I was thinking about going vegetarian for a while. Since I live at home I don’t want to inconvenience my parents by having my mom prepare an alternate dish for me, even though I could prepare a meal myself just as easily. However, I’d be going vegetarian mostly for my health, though the ethics part of it is a plus. Vegetarians are simply known to be healthier. According to ACE’s Essentials of Exercise Science for Fitness Professionals, vegetarian diets “are low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and animal protein and high in fiber, folate, vitamins C and E, caratenoids, and phytochemicals. Compared to omnivores, vegetarians have lower rates of obesity, death from cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer” (Bryant & Green, 2012, p. 189). It is these reasons that I would go vegetarian. Even so, there is one meat I cannot see myself giving up entirely: chicken. This is why I see myself being more of a flexetarian.
A flexetarian is someone who mostly eats a vegetarian diet but occasionally consumes meat. This isn’t to say I want to religiously hold on to chicken like people want to hold on to bacon. This is to only say that when I go out to eat, the vegetarian options don’t exactly appeal to me because I do not like my vegetables cooked in any way, save for green beans and maybe spinach. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy eating out that much. So going out to eat is probably the only time I’d consume meat, unless I can find an option that I would find just as appetizing. Chicken would be the only meat I’d consume, however. I’m not going to miss all other meats. I’ve never been much of a fan of red meat or pork products. Of course I’d still consume eggs and dairy, but I’ll try to shoot for organics, particularly if I can purchase local. Now while I primarily want to go flexetarian for health reasons, this doesn’t mean that I’m not aware of the appalling treatment of chickens and dairy animals–hence, this is why I want to buy local so that way I am able to see the treatment of these animals.
How is a flexetarian diet advantageous? Well, for one, your meal options are, as the name implies, more flexible. You still eat mostly vegetarian but consuming meat products every once in a while still adds variety to your diet. Being mostly vegetarian still helps the environment and still reduces animal suffering as much as possible. Your carbon footprint is still reduced, as is fuel and water usage. Since flexetarians largely consume fruits and veggies, it’s easy to meet the required 50% of one’s diet being these foods; thus, your chances of the above-mentioned diseases are still reduced as compare to omnivores.
Now, of course, there should be no scorn for those who still like to eat meat with many of their meals. For a lot of people, going vegetarian or even vegan is a luxury. For example, if you want your protein needs to be met as a vegetarian or vegan, you must eat widely across all fruits and veggies (although I hear buckwheat sprouts contain all essential amino acids). This means consuming a lot of them, which many people who struggle with finances can’t do. So it’s more feasible for them to buy some chicken, which is cheap, to have their protein needs met. And, of course, some people simply do not want to give up meat. That’s fine as well. Either way, we cannot judge someone’s lifestyle choices.