We like to stay current with food terminology, so the word
"flexitarian" caught our eye. The Guardian has been
concerned recently with defining vegetarianism and, in two recent
articles, they do a good job of summing up the fluidity with which
this term is being used.
In a moderately light-hearted article, Flexitarianism: Isn't it
just vegetarianism with cheating? they note that
"Flexitarians - also known as veggie-vores - eat mostly
vegetarian meals but make time for a big, juicy steak or a smoked
salmon bagel when they feel the urge." Or, as they more colorfully
put it, this is "vegetarianism with benefits."
In a more comprehensive and serious subsequent article, What kind
of vegetarian are you? they further discuss the
ever-increasing blurring of the term "vegetarian." There are those
who seem to carry the label very lightly; in fact,
Time magazine recently
reported that 37% of Americans who called themselves
"vegetarian" admitted to eating meat within the last 24 hours. Then
there are others who acknowledge other allowances: they also eat
fish, or are lacto-ovo-pesce-pollo-vegetarians (AKA the "two legs
good, four legs bad" school of nutrition).
Of course, on the other hand, you have the even more restrictive
types of vegetarians. Ashton Kutcher's recent claim that, by
following Steve Jobs' all-fruit diet ("fruitarian"), he ended up in the
hospital recently did an excellent job of publicizing these
types of diets (and his new movie, to boot).
So where does this leave us when we're trying to accomodate
everyone, perhaps for a meal or in a political discussion? Even if
you don't embrace the kill-no-animal argument, the
Guardian does discuss two good reasons for being
meat-conscious - health and environment. So for those of us
in the middle, here's a good accomodation term: embrace being
a "meat reducer." Not a sexy term (in fact, to us it sounds like
using MSG or a meat pounder on a steak), but it's honest, and kind,
and flexible. Not bad qualities at all.