What’s the Beef with Flexitarians?

Hearing the mice from the film squeak “pork is a nice sweet meat” still brings a shudder down my spine.

So…what is a flexitarian?

The term flexitarianism has been around since the mid-nineties: even though I just needed to check the spelling as it still comes up as a spelling error. Flexitarianism is flexible by name, flexible by nature. It’s marketed as a gentle way to reduce your meat intake and increase your plant intake. In recent years, there have been various food campaigns instigating a gentle approach to a reduction of meat in our diets. Such as ‘Meat Free Monday’ by the McCartney family (swapping your sausages to Linda’s meat-free sausages is a big win. Delicious.) and other campaigns such as ‘Veganuary’.

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graphic highlighting the need for meat reduction in alleviating global warming
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graphic

If flexitarians were a country, they would be Switzerland

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Do people love to hate the flexitarian?

Flexitarians seem pretty non-committal; the type of people that would RSVP to every invite on a Friday but weigh up the best option on the night. And no vegan, vegetarian or carnivore wants to anyone’s second choice. There are signs of them being superficial, jumping on a pop culture food bandwagon without committing to a complete change of diet. The hypocrite label also gets thrown around. Flexitarians post online about their vegan burgers and homemade cashew nut butter but then eat ribs at a restaurant.

Some people get downright offended and why?

Everyone has an opinion on food. It is an integral part of our daily lives. It is symbolic of the way of life of different groups of people; think of BBQs in Brazil or hot pots in China. If these customs and traditions receive criticism, it’s a natural response from the people who do them to feel threatened and defensive. In turn, they tend to view the ‘criticisers’ that don’t agree with their lifestyle as outsiders — a kind of ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality.

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Photo by Bruno Kelzer on Unsplash
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Photo by Simon Matzinger on Unsplash

THERE IS VEGANISM AND THERE IS ANIMAL EXPLOITATION. THERE IS NO THIRD CHOICE.

And, what could offend the vegetarian camp? They have made the transition to not eating meat: period. They can watch Okja on Netflix (if you haven’t watched it, and I recommend you do, be prepared to cry) without deep thoughts of guilt. Flexitarians to them seem wishy-washy. They will happily eat a halloumi burger and value that animals were not made purely to please humankind’s enormous palette but just not enough to swap that beef roast for a nut roast.

Is the middle ground of diets a flexitarian?

The differing views on how and what we should be feeding ourselves, especially between meat eaters and vegans are very conflicting. It seemed there would never be any form of compromise made. But, with the increase in damage to our planet from CO2 that eating meat creates we are developing a change in mindset. Flexitarianism is an example of this paradigm shift in our behaviour towards meat. A natural change in public attitude to meat eating; an evolution of sorts. And with evolution, this takes time.

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Photo by Adam Jang on Unsplash

Freelance writer. You can find me reading under a palm tree in Rio de Janeiro. E-mail: nikola.grace.radley@gmail.com

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