Bittman, who has not personally forsaken meat altogether and who sees his book as merely a road map to help guide readers in the direction of a more heavily plant-based diet, is responding to a trend that's been gathering force over the past 15 years or so. Americans are eating more vegetables than ever, thanks to myriad factors: the number of farmers' markets in this country has surged, for one thing, and in many restaurants traditional meat entrees have given way to more-varied small plates. A neologism,_ flexitarian_, has even been coined to describe the sort of eater who adheres to a largely vegetarian diet while still savoring the occasional serving of meat, fish, or poultry. In The Flexitarian Table (Houghton Mifflin, $30), Peter Berley, a former chef at the New York City vegetarian mecca Angelica Kitchen, who earned praise for an earlier book, The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen (HarperCollins, 2000), makes this way of eating look like a balanced and sensible way to live. Berley is especially convincing because he's actually lived this way for years, creating meals to accommodate himself, his wife, and his young daughter, all of whom occasionally eat meat, as well as his older daughter, a strict vegetarian.