When I first heard the term ‘flexitarian’, I’d been vegetarian for several years. Initially I was very strict with it, but after a while I started having a little bit of meat here and there. Calling myself a vegetarian didn’t feel honest anymore, even though I ate vegetarian 95% of the time. This is when I found out that the term flexitarianism was being adopted by people doing the same thing as me.
You can probably guess what ‘flexitarian’ means because it’s exactly what it says on the tin: someone who has a primarily vegetarian diet but occasionally eats meat. If you mostly eat veggies and fish, and meat just now and then, you’re a flexitarian. If you now do Meat Free Mondays at home and have ended up only eating meat a couple of times a week, you’re a flexitarian.
I do explain to people about my diet but have endured a fair amount of judgement. They seem to think being a flexitarian is a bit of a cop out; that I may as well just eat as much meat as a regular person if I’m not going to be veggie or vegan. But being a part-time vegetarian is better than not at all!
According to recent research by the Agrifood Training Partnership (ATFP) at the University of Nottingham, 30% of the British population now identify themselves as flexitarians. This is followed by 15% being vegetarian and 7% vegan. Flexitarianism has become popular due to people wanting to enjoy a more balanced diet that doesn’t rely so heavily on meat, and also growing concerns about the environment.
Whilst I chose to be a flexitarian for my own health and wellbeing, it also helps save the planet. The Lancet medical journal published a study that stated the need for huge changes in global food production and the human diet in order to avoid “catastrophic damage to the planet”. The study stated that we need to reduce our consumption of red meat by 50% and double the amount of nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes that we eat.
Being a flexitarian is accessible and so many more people can adopt this lifestyle. Unlike the vegans and vegetarians of the world, we won’t judge you for eating a scotch egg at the pub or having some roast chicken on a Sunday. Making better choices for our bodies and our planet is the most important thing here.
Being a flexitarian works for me because it allows me to listen to my body and not deny myself of food that I love. It gives me more freedom, and I’m able to enjoy my life and not have to worry about finding food fits in with my strict diet. It’s so much easier to stick to being vegetarian when I’m allowed an occasional treat.
There aren’t any rules you have to adhere to in order to be a flexitarian, and you can choose to be flexitarian for your own reasons. Maybe you want to look after your health more consciously, maybe animal welfare is important to you, or maybe you’d like to do a little bit more for the planet. Or all of the above! You don’t have to roam around town telling everyone you meet that you’re a flexitarian and they should be too. This choice is yours, and you deserve to follow a diet that works for you and your lifestyle.