Wise choice or ill thought out relativism? On being a ‘flexitarian’

I blogged recently about my food choices as a yogini, where I wondered if acting locally (looking after myself and those closest to me) was as valid a way of practicing ahimsa (non-violence) as acting globally (looking after the ecology of the planet).

This blog post attracted quite a lot of attention (what does a ‘like’ really mean in the blogosphere, I wonder?) and a couple of readers got in touch with me directly (publicly and privately) telling me about their experiences (thank you readers, I really love hearing from you). From what I heard and from conversations I have had with those around me, there’s a lot of guilt associated with this topic! We seem to feel that we’re falling short if we’re not meeting the yogic perfection of being vegan. But all this seems, well, a bit un-yogic to me. In asana and meditation we practice softness in our goals and ambitions, forgiveness for our human weakness, and compassion towards the needs and choices of others.

After writing my blog post I came across the term ‘flexitarian’. This seemed to describe my diet. It’s a very loosely defined term (think ‘flexible vegetarian’), but seems to be getting at the modern phenomenon of dietary choices that are increasingly concern for many of us, for all sorts of reasons.

When I mentioned this new item of vocabulary to my hubby, he scoffed. His immediate reaction was to mock this as a half-hearted attempt to change their diet by people who couldn’t be bothered to commit properly. And at first I agreed. I dislike half-measures, especially when they seem to be for personal convenience at the cost of committed discipline.

But on reflection I think that flexitarian is (or at least could be) a discipline in itself. Sticking rigidly to the rules of a vegan diet must be a challenge, but at least there are rules to abide by. Being flexitarian involves negotiating choices all the time and committing to ‘right action’ by choosing mindfully over and over again. Sure it could be just an excuse to eat whatever you like, but it could also be a way of maintaining mindfulness of the needs of oneself and others without being on vegan autopilot.

My thought for the day. If it seems muddle-headed to you, perhaps blame it on the cappuccino I’m drinking right now!


2 thoughts on “Wise choice or ill thought out relativism? On being a ‘flexitarian’

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  1. After many years of being a lacto-ovo vegetarian, veganism seems to be choosing me. As I get older (I’m 56 now) I seem to have to be more careful with my food choices. Some choices that seemed fine in earlier years, now manifest in stiff joints (dairy) or digestive difficulties, night sweats (sweeties) and, actually, kidney stones (cheese). I never thought in my lacto-ovo days (which started in my early teens) that I could survive as a vegan. But now I find I feel best on a diet that dips into sweets and dairy only lightly and occasionally.
    Change! The only constant : )


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