The other day, ISADORA, OUR LOYAL Vegr CONTRIBUTOR, caught up with a flexitarian she met at a party and decided to pick his brain about flexitarianism. A title most plant-based people find to be confusing and, in many respects, contradictory. Here's how it went.
So, what exactly is a flexitarian?
I can’t speak on behalf of all flexitarians. Flexitarianism is so broad, you see. But from my understanding, a flexitarian is someone who adheres to a flexible plant based diet. So, for example — I’ll be eating plant based ingredients at home, but when I’m out with friends and there’s a steak on the table, I’d eat it, because, well... I’d rather not be a stick in the mud. I’ll also try to avoid animal products on Mondays and Thursdays out of respect for the cause.
What made you become flexitarian?
I’ve always had a soft spot for animals, you see. About 5 years ago I decided to give veganism a go and did that for over a year, but then my friends slowly dissipated and I got a little lonely. Being a gay vegan, you’ll find that friends are scarce. Vegan friends, that is. Especially in the LGBTQI+ community. I had to weigh between losing my close friends or being stubborn, so I negotiated with myself to be more flexible and when we’re out, I’ll just eat whatever’s on the menu. When in Rome…
Do you not feel like that defeats the whole purpose?
In many respects, I do... But these are friendships that have taken me years to cultivate. I can’t just throw them out of my life. I feel like even though it’s a small contribution compared to that of vegans or vegetarians, who are stauncher on where they stand, it’s still something and it all counts, right?
So, flexitarians are basically vegans/vegetarians who cheat from time to time…
Well, if we weren’t so open about it, I’d agree cause you’re only cheating when you’re breaking the rules. But we’re not claiming to be vegetarian or vegan. We just do what’s convenient for our health and lifestyles. People are so quick to judge us, but they should really give us a chance and see where we’re coming from.
But you eat meat… so can you see how some vegans or vegetarians would find that irritating?
Yes, I can see why.
How would you justify your 'convenient meat eating' to vegans and vegetarians?
I don’t believe I should justify anything I do. It’s my choice. Look, I do try my hardest to make sure the meat I occasionally eat is ethically sourced and organic. It’s a start, and we’re contributing to the greater cause. Even if it’s a tiny step, we’re still contributing.
WANNA CONNECT TO THE PLANT-BASED COMMUNITY?
In what other ways do you think you’re contributing?
Well, flexitarianism doesn’t claim to be the answer to everything. We’re aware that we’re not on the same level as veganism... Not even close, in fact. We do contribute in our own way, though. With stuff like the 7 Day No Meat Challenge or No Meat Mondays, we’re minimizing the general consumption of meat by giving the average person the push, or motivation they need to get started. I find that vegans can be a little hard on beginners which can, in turn, overwhelm or disincentivise them from wanting to transition. We’re a little more relatable.
Don't you think vegans can be relatable?
Not quite. I love what they do but they can be a little too ‘in your face’.
You’re right. I probably shouldn’t generalize.
Do you see yourself ever going vegan again?
Yes, down the track when vegan restaurants are more accessible in my city and when it’s a lot easier.
I know you have a boyfriend. What’s his dietary status?
My boyfriend is an all-out pescatarian. We have only been dating for 6 months so, touch wood, it stays that way… We have, on several occasions, chatted about moving in together and I personally don’t see it as an issue. We’re both parts of the same organization, we’re just on different teams. He’s very supportive of my flexitarian lifestyle and I could not ask for a better partner. Who knows, we might give veganism a shot together sometime soon…
What’s your favorite vegan dish?
Vegan Gnocchi. Hands down.
Yum. Lastly, what do you have to say to all the vegans and vegetarians who don’t quite understand flexitarianism?
Just be open with us and don’t judge us. Ask questions and be patient. The last vegan I chatted to online accused me of being a rapist and a murderer. I found that to be a little offensive and it threw me off a little. Sure, I’ll be the first to admit that we’re far from perfect, but at least we’re doing something. There are over 7 billion people in this world, don’t attack the ones who are closer than the rest. Well, don’t attack at all. It doesn’t work.
I’m sorry you had that experience and can assure you we’re not all like that. Thank you so much for your time and I wish you all the best with your plant-based journey!
Vegr Contributor, Teacher, Blogger.
ENJOY OUR CONTENT?
CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO OUR SUPER INTERESTING BI-WEEKLY BLOGS. TAKES 7 SECONDS AND YOU'LL LOVE IT!