EXCLUSIVE – As the debate rages on meat production as one of the main culprits of global gas emission and climate change (see ‘T-bones and Test Tubes, April 16), a new eating trend in the United States may be making a small but significant contribution to reducing meat consumption.
That trend is ‘flexitarianism’, a form of diet that includes mainly vegetarian food, but which allows forays into fish and meat whenever practical, social, cultural or nutritional reasons demand.
The word was first used in 1992 in the Austin American-Statesman magazine, whose reporter Linda Anthony described the Acorn Café in the Texan capital as serving up ‘flexitarian fare’ — ‘healthy/vegetarian food prepared with a Continental cast’.
In April 2002, The Denver Post reported that, ‘People are looking at what is in our food supply — hormones, disease, antibiotics, whatever. And that concern has led to a burst of interest in meatless dishes, and a new breed of “flexitarians’” who eat primarily fruits, grains and vegetables, but who won’t say no to steak or salmon’.
In 2003 the American dialect Society voted ‘flexitarian’, defined as a ‘a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat’, as its word of the year. Since then, the rise of flexitarianism has been so strong that many vegetarian magazines now occasionally publish recipes that include meat.
Originally motivated by animal rights and medical data on the health benefits of vegetarian food, flexitarians now argue that their diet has sound ethical and ecological justifications.