I’ve noticed the word “flexitarian” being bandied about lately. As in, “I’m not a vegetarian, I’m a flexitarian.” It means, essentially, someone who eats meat less often than the average meat-eater, but more often than the average vegetarian. I like the idea of a middle ground between vegetarianism and carnivorism. And, personally, I have no problem eating beans and lentils and passing on the hamburgers. In fact, if push came to shove, I would probably describe myself as a “flexitarian.” Except that I don’t really like the idea of labels and I think “flexitarian” is such a strange label anyway. I mean, “flex” like “flex your muscles” and “flexible spending account” is all well and good. I definitely like the connotations of strength and flexibility (as well as attractiveness and affluence) because I’m pretty sure nothing too horrible ever comes from being both strong and flexible (although I’m not so sure about the attractive and affluent side of things . . .). But I prefer to think of it simply as partaking from the full-spectrum of deliciousness that God has placed on earth for the benefit of mankind. No need to make it sound like some crazy/trendy food-fad.
But let’s back up a bit. When I got married, I knew how to cook approximately 2 things. Chocolate chip cookies and ramen. (But give me some credit, it was “enhanced” ramen — sometimes I put frozen peas in it. Or cheese.) In the intervening 5 years I’ve purchased some cookbooks, become a master of web-surfing for recipes, and overcome my fear of culinary experimentation. I’ve lived on both sides of the US of A (East Coast and middle-of-the-ocean) amongst a wide variety of peoples (Polynesian, Asian, Carribean, Jewish, white, African-American) with a lot of different tastes (taro, Spam, goat, plantains, oxtail, challah). And it not only got me a little curious about all of these different things that I’d never seen in grocery stores back in middle-American suburbs, it also forced me — I admit it — to learn to cook the stuff I like because the stuff I like wasn’t always readily available. In the process I realized that you miss out on a lot of good things if you stick by the standard meat-and-potatoes fare. And, confession #2, I found it empowering to know how to prepare fresh food from scratch. It isn’t always easy. Just ask my husband about the celery disaster of 2004. (And to think! He married me anyway!) But it is both fun and interesting. You never know what kinds of “exotic” foods will end up being staples in your kitchen. Quinoa, anyone?
So forgive me if I think that “flexitarianism” is strange. It sounds like an odd way of say, “I’m willing to try pretty much anything.” Or maybe, “I will not be turned off by the ‘vegetarian’ label.” Or possibly, “I don’t really feel like shutting the door on meat, because really, who doesn’t like a strip of bacon every once in a while?”