What is a flexitarian? (and other plant based diets)
Vegan, vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian, pescetarian, pollotarian, mumbo and jumbo. How we define our eating habits has become more and more complicated and for many people harder to understand. And why does it even matter? Can’t we just eat what we eat and keep our mouth shut about it?
Well, it’s not that easy in this world where labeling and categorizing people is so important to us. In this article we try to sort things out, and of course we want to answer the most important question: What is a flexitarian?
What is a flexitarian?
This is the definition that personally suits us the best. We as flexitarians is well aware that the food we choose to eat has an impact on our environment, and we want to make our carbon footprint smaller. We also know that the animals raised in the meat industry are far from a pretty picture. But still we love food, and we can’t deny that a nice slice of pancetta or a small sprinkle of bacon can enhance a dish and really take it to the next level.
Our belief is also that flexitarianism is the most realistic way to reach the goal of lower carbon emissions. Far from everyone are willing to go completely vegan (a lot of people seems to have an almost religious relationship to the steak), and not everyone has to. If everyone switched one or two meal of the week from meat centered to plant based, it would really make a difference.
What is a lacto-vegetarian?
The most difficult animal ingredients to let go of for a most aspiring vegans are the dairy products. To avoid milk, cream, yoghurt, and most important – butter and cheese is a huge sacrifice for a lot of people. The lacto-vegetarian choose to eat mostly plant based, but they use dairy products in their cooking.
Lately though, a lot of alternatives to milk products have popped up in the stores. Soy, almond, coconut and even oat has paved the way for a lacto free milk assortment. in many cases, these alternatives can replace milk or cream without sacrificing taste. Did you know oat milk is super easy to do at home?
What is a lacto-ovo-vegetarian?
As you might have guessed, this diet is based on the variant above. But with the addition of one very vital ingredient: The Egg! Throughout human history we have eaten eggs. Eggs are one of the most useful ingredients, but also the most nutritious product we have. If you were left with no other food but eggs, you would probably do quite well. It has the fats in the yolk and the proteins in the white, and a lot of healthy vitamins and minerals. We use it as a binder in both baking and cooking, and it has characteristics that no other products have.
Having said all that, people who follow a strictly vegan diet have found some very good substitutes that mimic the capabilities of the egg. Did you know you could use chickpea liquid (aquafaba) to make both mayonnaise and meringues? Or that chia seeds or flax seeds often can replace eggs in baking. Why not try that next time?
What is a pescetarian?
This is for the fish lovers. Most pescetarians stay with lacto-ovo-vegetarian food, but they also eat fish and seafood. The logic here is not very clear if we think in terms of saving the climate. The oceans are overfished and fishing methods like bottom trawling are destroying the biodiversity in our oceans. And so on.
From a health perspective though, this diet makes more sense. Fish is a far better option as a protein source than red meat for our both bowels and heart. Fish also contains a large share of the important fatty acid omega-3. For our body, fish is a good addition to a plant based diet.
What is a pollotarian?
Just like the category above, this is another semi-vegetarian diet. This time we add birds. Again, poultry is a better option than red meat, both health-wise and when it comes to carbon emissions. While one kilogram of beef is responsible for 27 kilos CO2 equivalents, the same amount of chicken meat stands for just under 7 kilos. (source)
Many people also combine pollo- and pescetarianism and are in the end eating almost anything. Except for the red meat. And even if it is hard to call oneself a vegetarian, we have come a long way down the road to more sustainable food.
What is it called when you only eat chicken? Yes – the right answer is: pollotarian!
What is a vegan?
Being a vegan, you stay away from anything that comes from the animal kingdom. No eggs, no cow milk and of course no meat of any kind. Strict veganism has gained a lot of popularity lately, but still there are a lot of myths out there about veganism. Some people call veganism an eating disorder, some say you can’t get full on a vegan meal, some say it’s rabbit’s food. But in fact, a large and growing amount of people around the world are switching to a diet made entirely on plants, and plants alone.
But what a difference can some cheddar make? Well, in fact cheese produces more greenhouse emissions than both pork and chicken, and 15 times more than lentils. So you’d better think again.
Switching to a vegan diet might not be easy in the beginning, but a few steps down the road it might lead to more creative cooking and understanding of different textures and flavors in our food.
So what is the best option for you? Do you want to define your niche of vegetarianism or do you just want to cut some of your greenhouse footprints? The key is awareness that the food we eat have a direct impact on our climate and on our health.
With more knowledge about what different kind of foods does to us and the planet, we can make more informed decisions. And believe us when we say: You don’t have to compromise on taste. Vegan food can be awesome, but once in a while, you might want to add some mozzarella.