In Defense of the Flexitarian

The term "flexitarian" isn't all that common in the dietary world, but it does have a certain meaning and people who use the label are often looked down on by "real" vegans and vegetarians. I think it's a shame and that people should be more accepting of the choices others make, especially when they are headed in the right direction.

Maybe we should be more accepting of people who
label themselves as flexitarian

A flexitarian is someone who moves between a standard omni diet and a vegan one, more or less. Basically, someone who considers their dietary commitment to be somewhat flexible. To many vegans, that just means they are omnivores who are trying to put a pretty face on it. That the new label is a way to make themselves feel better about eating animal products. Like they are being pretend vegans. I disagree (mostly). So I thought I would share my opinions on the flexitarian.

I will admit that someone who eats meat, eggs or dairy 6 days a week should accept that they are omnivores and stop trying to fool themselves. This is not really what a flexitarian is all about. But on the other hand, what about someone who eats plant-based-only most of the time, and only occasionally has a little meat or dairy? People who are making a conscious choice to eat vegan as best they can given their circumstances but aren't quite there yet. Perhaps due to a lack of family support, financial constraints, medical reasons or just a level of will-power still developing.

Too many see veganism as a level of absolutes. All animal products are bad, and so there are no shades of gray in the equation. All or nothing. Well, very little in life ever meets up to that level of thinking and it just leads to frustration for some people. In an ideal world, of course someone who is concerned about animal welfare would happily and easily cut out every single animal product without hesitation and never look back. Good luck with that.

I would rather see someone do their best to give up half their meat consumption and stop drinking milk (for example), than make no changes at all. What counts is that people are making a deliberate effort to reduce their use of animal products even if it's not at a level of perfection (yet). Every small change represents a smaller demand for animal products, and that means some good has come of it. Even something as tiny as switching your dairy milk to a non-dairy alternative, and nothing else. It all matters.

So don't think of a flexitarian as a fake vegan. They're more like vegans-in-training and deserve support and encouragement. As long as people, whether they identify as flexitarians or not, are trying to cut down on their consumption of any animal products, it's a good thing.


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