A couple weeks ago I read an article in the local paper about the rise of this new movement called “flexitarianism”. I think it must be one of the stupidest articles I’ve ever read, and I’m baffled that they wasted a full page to write about something so completely worthless. Don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of the term before, since it doesn’t really mean anything.
A flexitarian is simply an omnivore who wants to have an unnecessary label. Maybe they eat a predominantly plant-based diet, choosing not to have meat most of the time, but they will still eat anything. Thus they have no dietary limitations. They eat whatever is convenient and available. So I’d like to pose the following question to the universe: Why does this term exist? It is not useful, it does not help denote anything to the masses. It could mean ANYTHING.
The reason we create specific words in this department is so that we can more easily identify a person’s dietary needs and restrictions. Words like pescatarian, vegetarian, and vegan are useful because they specifically define what an individual will and will not eat. When they go to a restaurant, they can tell their server the word and (probably) that server will know which menu items are appropriate for them and which are not.
Flexitarian, on the other hand, is a complete generalization. By its own definition, pretty much everyone can be classified under this label because most everyone already does eat whatever they choose, or want. So what’s the purpose? At best, this term makes a fuzzy and awkward statement that the person claiming it is most likely fickle or undecided about what sort of lifestyle they want to live. There is no tangible evidence to suggest any sort of specificity in regards to this word since it is so easily manipulated to mean whatever anyone wants it to mean.
Every time I imagine a conversation between a server and a “flexitarian” at a restaurant, it goes down like this:
Server: Hello there! Are you ready to order?
Guest: Yes I think so, but before we get started you should know that I’m a flexitarian.
Server: Oh okay. Flexitarian you say? I’m not familiar with that one… could you describe your dietary needs to me please?
Guest: Well, it’s like being a vegetarian.
Server: Oh okay! That’s easy.
Guest: Except I still eat meat and fish.
Server: …….. okay?
Guest: Yeah, I’m pretty flexible, unlike full on vegetarians.
Server: That’s… neat. So what can I get for you?
Guest: Well I’m in the mood for something really yummy. What would you recommend that can be made flexitarian?
Server: Uhhh.. well, I guess.. everything on our menu would be categorized as flexitarian by the definition you gave me. What are you in the mood for?
Guest: Well I’m in the mood for something that’s delicious, and also healthy. I’m looking at the chicken alfredo salad.
Server: Excellent choice!
Guest: Can you make it without the chicken?
Server: Of course. Alfredo salad, sans chicken. I’ll go get your order started.
Guest: Actually, wait. Do you think it will still taste as good without the chicken?
Server: Well, no.
Guest: Hmm.. well, I’d really prefer it without the chicken. But since I’m a flexitarian, could I customize the alfredo salad to come with chicken?
Server: So.. you want the regular chicken alfredo salad that’s on the menu?
Guest: Oh no, I’m flexitarian. I’d like the alfredo salad, but WITH chicken.
Guest: I’m flexible.
Server: Well, fantastic. How about some dog shit on the side as well?
Guest: That sounds great! I’m very flexible, you see.
Server: Perfect. I’ll be right back with your alfredo salad with chicken and dog shit.
Guest: Thank you! I’m famished.
I hope I’ve made my point.