A flexitarian is a flexible vegetarian, someone who looks after their health, but also sins on occasion Our customers are already predisposed to healthy eating or have food intolerances
The Barri family first opened a vegetarian restaurant in Lleida in 1979. The Teresa Carles group now has six restaurants offering healthy eating options and has more plans to expand in the near future.
What does a flexitarian eat?
It’s a term that first appeared in the United States in 2013. A flexitarian is a flexible vegetarian, someone who looks after their health, but also sins on occasion. I’m not a health extremist, but I do want to look after myself. We started using the term flexitarian when I was looking for new healthy eating trends around the world, and we saw that some nutritionists and books that are less strict recommended eating oily fish because they are rich in omega fats. I then suggested my parents open a more open-minded restaurant. Flexitarian cookery is very strict with its cooking procedures. It’s mostly made up of vegetables, and there isn’t much cheese or milk, or refined flour... In the end, my mother said to me that as long as there are no dead animals or blood we could give it a try.
What’s your typical customer like?
We must remember that there are a lot people who eat a flexitarian diet without knowing it or without knowing the term. There are increasingly more omnivorous people who are becoming flexitarians. It gives you the advantage of being able to eat everything, but not overdoing fish or meat, and understanding that you can’t have a barbecue every day because human beings need to eat fruit, vegetables, cereals…
How can we learn to eat more healthily at home?
We’ve been thinking about a really lovely idea recently. We now have six restaurants and will open another two soon, one also in Madrid. The people we get are people who are already predisposed to healthy eating or people with food intolerances. We now have to reach more people and to get our products into their homes. We have to make some adjustments because eating fresh food in the restaurant is not the same as introducing it into a distribution chain. What’s more, we want trained people at the point of sale and to take advantage of social networks. For Sant Jordi’s Day we published a book with recipes you can make at home, based on the principles of vegetarian cuisine, with do’s and dont’s for eating healthily, but without going to extremes about it. We want to spread the word and share the information. If you learn a lot perhaps you’ll think there’s no longer any need to go to the restaurant, something that will force us to innovate even more. We also have a YouTube channel with recipes and are increasingly posting more things there.
Does eating healthily affect your mood?
Absolutely. There are people who eat badly and insist they feel fine. Our bodies also get used to things that aren’t good for us. But when you begin to limit your intake of saturated animal fat, you begin to eat a more balanced diet, and include natural fruit and vegetables, you eat more oily fish, organic meat, you cut down on the sauces, you make sure the cooking procedures are as healthy as possible, you start frying less... If you eat like this your energy levels go up, as it has been proven that there are foodstuffs that steal energy from you, such as an excess of refined sugar, for example. There are processed refined products that create addiction. Take biscuits with chocolate and sugar. They are products that when you see them, your body tells your mind that you want them. When you begin to eat more healthily, you find you have more energy.
Do you need to be constantly on a diet so as not to put on weight?
If you eat healthily, you also begin losing weight. There is no need to follow a strict diet in order to lose weight. You lose it naturally if you cut down on saturated fat, limit the amount of cheese you eat, opt for vegetable protein… Diets are nonsense. We can help those people who do not feel good, who lack energy, who are addicted to certain products by discovering many new ingredients for them.
What was the reaction when your mother opened a vegetarian restaurant in 1979?
People didn’t get it at first because Lleida is the city of snails and grilled meat and so only a few people came. My mother began to do some research and began making traditional recipes without the meat and fish to make the dishes more attractive. She went beyond the cliché of the vegetarian. People then began coming because the food was good. Apart from what is healthy, there’s also the pleasure of eating.