It seems these days that it is trendy to define yourself by the diet you consume and carry labels — such as vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, clean eater — proudly around like a name badge on your collar. Yet, I often wonder if these self-claimed trademarks are attempts to follow the crowd to be hip, based on personal established values or actually based on the food you routinely want to eat?
Honestly, is it really necessary to place a label on everything? Sure, meat eaters will grunt and pound their chest to defend the right to eat meat but many do not feel it is necessary to work into daily conversation or use it as atool to be among the “cool crowd.”
Yet, for the community that is not a big fan of raising animals for food, they are noisily chatting about consumers turning to vegetarian diets, giving the impression that a large percentage of consumers have turned over a new leaf. In 2009, only 1% of the U.S. population reported being vegetarian and now that figure rose to 5%, according to sources such as Vegetarian Times and People for Ethnical Treatment of Animals. Noteworthy, the latest set of vegetarian statistics is dated 2013. Still, 5% is a small piece of the domestic market.
As more and more people, including athletes and celebrities, openly admitting they cheat on their vegetarian or vegan diet, one has to question the claim the vegetarian move is on the rise. Olympian Venus Williams admits she has cheated on her vegan diet. She is not alone. Actor and singer Jared Leto admits in a Rolling Stone interview he is also a “cheating vegan.” In fact, confessing you cheated is now a brand new trend. Yep, cheagan is the newest name tag to adorn.
Another intriguing label is Freegan. If someone gives a vegan something to eat or an item made from an animal, than it is fine and dandy — as long as their personal money is not spent on the item derived from an animal. One could imagine such a scenario that a vegan could exploit a situation to eat bacon.
Fashionable consumers are also proud to tote the new tag “flexitarian.” As a semi-vegetarian, the hard-core flexitarian is cutting back on meat eating to help save the planet or that is at least how the anti-animal community has defined it. For others, it is about eating a plant-based dish one meal and animal protein the next. Perhaps, that is the appeal of the title — “I can be a vegetarian when it is popular and convenient, but honestly I am eating a pork chop at home”.
Let us all be truthful. The new identity seems to be a socially acceptable way to justify eating animal proteins. No matter how you spin it or coin it. Cheagan, freegan or flexitarian are just individuals who eat meat. Meat eating is classic, timeless and always trendy. Possibly, it is time to drop the diet marquees and just eat tasty food items that provided valuable nutrition to nourish our bodies and mind.