I eat meat, which is something that no longer sits as easy with me as it did before. It’s pretty much impossible to ignore the mass move into vegetarianism and veganism, especially for students like me. But what do you do if you’re not ready to say goodbye to the likes of bacon and burgers?
Flexitarian is the term best used to describe individuals such as myself, still eating meat but much less frequently and increasing the range and volume of veggies in meals too. It is also a term that has sparked much debate, often seeming that Flexitarians are not as ‘strong-willed’ in ditching meat or it being a ‘fad’ term that wouldn’t last.
Perhaps the main issue here is why even ditch meat? We’ve undergone an almost ‘re-education’ recently, leading us to believe that meat is neither good for our planet due to intensive farming methods or our bodies as previously thought. It’s still a huge area for research, with its pros and cons including reduced non-communicable diseases like cancers but deficiencies in other areas. But the thought of removing meat completely from a diet can be a difficult choice, not as easy as many are led to believe. Whilst some find it easy to ditch steaks, eating meat for many is still an integral aspect of meals and diets. Transitions can be difficult for numerous reasons; health, financial and even cultural factors are at play here.
Sometimes vegetable costs can vary due to seasonal farming, and while meat is still more expensive than veg, finding meat substitutes to suit individual tastes can be a long and expensive process too. In turn, this can lead to diets being seemingly restrictive, and without discovering meals and foods that you consider as nice as meat might be what stops a new vegetarian reverting back to eating meat. Flexitarian diets bridge the gap between eating meat on a daily basis and becoming a fully-fledged vegetarian while allowing individuals to fully understand benefits and begin to construct the transition in a sustainable way.
This is where I believe a Flexitarian approach should be considered because at the end of the day we all want to make progress and do our best for the environment. Every little helps, and if everybody reduced meat intake that would be a huge step forward. If a Flexitarian diet was more accepted within the vegetarian community it could build a better foundation for the transition into vegetarianism.
Everybody can struggle with removing meat, which a Flexitarian diet caters for. It removes the pressure of having to avoid meat and the negativity that follows if somebody slips up once in a while. I will remain in this limbo of eating meat occasionally, while also happily walking out of the supermarket with a meat-free food shop. Existing as a Flexitarian keeps you free of any inhabitations or worries of ‘failing’ by eating the odd drunken takeaway, and before you know it you learn to stop picking up the meat from the shelves in your own time which in my opinion would probably be more lasting sustainably than making an instant change.
About the Author: Megan Tarbuck is currently studying Human Geography & Environment at York University and writes for the Tab York and The Indiependent.