Honey, I’m a flexitarian.
“What the dickens is a flexitarian?!” I hear you cry.
It’s probably up there with smashed avocado and The Office memes on the ‘Did you know I’m a Millennial?-scale’. To put it simply, it’s the idea of basing your meals around plants rather than meat or dairy, but not placing a strict no-no on what you pop on your plate. According to Wikipedia, in 2003, ‘flexitarian’ was voted the most useful word by the American Dialect Society. Riveting, I know.
But, I can understand why. Because for people like me, who want to lower their meat intake but who feel it would be unhelpful mentally to introduce ideas of restriction around food, making it more flexible makes it more accessible. Yeah, okay, it’s basically a way of reducing the pressure of the label ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ and replacing it with, yep, another label. And it’s so cringe-worthily millennial that I want to shrivel up like a prune. But, it works for me, and it might work for you.
Hang on though, Rosie, I hear you ask. Why this change, anyway?
It all started about two years ago [cue whirly flashback music]. In all honesty, it was purely economical. Meat costs money. Students lack money. I did the maths and realised that I could save some dosh by maybe not eating meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And by that time, I’d started to really love being adventurous with my cooking, and I LOVED (and still love) the challenge of making a veggie meal as delicious and satisfying as a meat alternative. So I started to swap out my mince and chicken for lentils and chickpeas, and went from there.
Then, I jetted off to France and Spain. One of things that brings me comfort when I’m feeling a little fragile, or homesick as I did on my Year Abroad, is to read cookbooks, foodie blogs and listen to foodie podcasts. So I filled a lot of my spare time out there doing just that, and kept hearing people talk about eating a more plant-based diet. I thought, “ah that’s nice, but not for me, thanks. You do you.”. And then I started to read about their reasons why, and learnt more and more about the meat and dairy industry, and the effect that it is having on our planet.
Livestock production is a whopping contributor of global greenhouse gas emissions. Feeding our hungry bellies with the amount of meat and dairy we consume nowadays means farming a whole lotta animals. A whole lotta animals means using up a whole lotta the earth’s valuable arable land and water, and it also means a whole lotta poop. Poop produces methane, and methane likes to spend its time heating up the earth. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, a scratch on the surface. Once I’d started to read more and more, the information became harder to ignore.
So I started to experiment more with cooking veggies, and I realised I absolutely loved it. Plus, the fact that my digestion significantly improved after years of, errrr, tummy troubles, made me want to stick with it. But niggling at the back of my mind was also the daunting idea of never eating meat or dairy again. Then, I read somewhere that the most dramatic positive changes come from lots of people doing something imperfectly, rather than a few people doing it perfectly. Hence why I decided that, for now, it’s not a never say never situ. It might be that tomorrow I fancy a full english, then a steak, and finish it off with some haggis and a cheeseboard. Or it might be that all I want to eat is falafel, hummus, and aubergines. Or I might plump for somewhere in between.
And I think plumping is something we can all do. It doesn’t have to have a label. It doesn’t have to be massive. But simple swaps once, twice, or everyday of the week will have an impact. I don’t ever want to preach. I realise that it is not accessible to everybody and that the way we eat is a personal thing, so that’s not where I am coming from with this. I just wanted to share my personal experience, and maybe pass on some of my enthusiasm for mushrooms and chickpeas (honestly, I might as well be a chickpea).
On that note, I will be posting some of my go-to recipes at the moment, so keep an eye peeled for that and let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like to get you’re teeth into…