This late 20th century invention finds a word for the diet-conscious individual who likes to vary their food, rather than align with prescriptive practices on the dietary spectrum. Flexitarianism gains traction with people not fully in sync with either of two opposing dietary camps – be they quasi-vegetarians who are disinclined to be absolute about excluding animal-derived foods from their meals, or meat-lovers who also recognise the environmental impacts of breeding animals for food, and the need to reduce this type of consumption. But neither type of flexitarian is appreciated by the committed members of each camp. The strict vegetarian may regard the flexitarian as “cheating on” the veggie diet; whereas unrepentant carnivores see the flexitarian diet as wimpish. Meanwhile the flexitarian movement associated with World Animal Protection takes a positive stance in seeking “to educate and influence people about the benefits of eating plant-based foods and alternative meat products”. But are grassroots flexitarians likely to line up with the organisation to justify their dietary habits? Or are they mostly individuals who reserve the right to vary their diet according to the context, the company they keep, and what’s left in the refrigerator? They don’t mind being called “flexitarian”.
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