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September 25, 2011 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

In Defence of Flexitarianism

Meat is Murder, so says Morrissey; and he’s right too, you know.

Besides considering the morality of breeding animals for human consumption alone, meat production is among the top contributors to climate change, which seriously jeopardises the lives of people in island states like Kiribati who have already experienced rising sea levels. Even on a personal level, eating a hamburger a day could increase your risk of risk of heart disease by one third. All scary thoughts when we consider that we’re eating twice as much meat as we did 50 years ago.

As an environmental studies student and a George Monbiot fangirl I know these facts. Yet, for as long as I have been endorsing the vegetarian lifestyle, I’ve also been known to let my taste buds rule on occasion, and order the chicken curry. Some would call this cheating. I call it flexitarianism.

Sounds sexy, right? Part-time vegetarianism has been the in-thing on the trendy streets of San Francisco for some time, but it reached New Zealand only a few years ago. In my opinion, there is little reason it shouldn’t have staying power. Whereas vegetarianism is an ethical (and therefore personal) choice, the attempt to eat less meat is just a good idea. It’s healthy, super cheap, eco-friendly, and best of all, effortless. Subsisting on the five other food groups is not difficult, and we flexitarians can do this without feeling like the only greener-than-thou guest at Friday night’s potluck dinner.

This may be the kind of statement that would inspire a Smiths song on walking, talking, meat-reducing oxymorons. To that, I argue that doing your little bit for sustainability still far outweighs doing nothing at all. There are certain parallels between the choice to cut down on meat and the one to use bio-oil as your fuel of choice: both are not as sustainable as going teetotal or donning your bike shorts, but both still cut down emissions substantially. Most importantly, both can be easily adopted into the average lifestyle.

Evidently, some vegetarians are more vegetarian than others, and as the environmental impact of meat production starts to be seen, full-vego may soon be the only way to go. Until then, call flexitarianism your prep-work, but don’t feel too condemned if you very occasionally indulge in homekill. Meat is murder, true, but Morrissey’s a bit of a bastard.


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