Flexitarian vs. Vegetarian

From carnivore and omnivore to vegetarian and flexitarian, there seems to be a place at the table for everyone. Trying to accommodate so many gustatory preferences in a single meal is a conundrum in and of itself, however, it is simply the labeling that needs deciphering first.  

Flexitarian Diet

A flexitarian is described as a person who eats primarily a vegetarian diet with the occasional consumption of meat, poultry or fish.

Many people would call a flexitarian an omnivore, but the label has seemed to make its way under the literary radar and into our pop vernacular. This label cannot help restaurant staffers decipher a possible alternative to their menu and it certainly does not adhere to the full philosophy of vegetarianism. Although choosing to diet as a herbivore is technically a vegetarian label, there is always the parallel teaching of animal consciousness.

One positive attribute of choosing a flexitarian diet is that the above average consumption of fruits and vegetables will always benefit your body. In addition, occasionally consuming meat is a fast and easy way to maintain protein, vitamin, mineral and amino acid levels, which vegetarians often need to take in a supplement form.

The downside of flexitarianism is that although there is a moderate consumption of meat and fish there is still the concern of how animal products are produced. For instance, factory farming has threatened the health of the consumer by incorporating the infusion of antibiotics into the animals to stave off a barrage of health hazards. Plus, this type of farming has been found, in several instances, to compromise the environment by overusing natural water resources. The amount of water that goes into a single 1,000 pound steer can float a destroyer. In addition, the meat industry is implementing irradiation. This is the use of small amounts of radiation to kill off any leftover bacteria in meat. So, if free-range is not available, many meat eaters, including flexitarians, will be ingesting meat that may have been exposed to radiation.

Vegetarian Diet

A vegetarian is a person who eats a plant based diet with or without dairy or egg consumption. This means no red meat, poultry, fish or shellfish, as opposed to a vegan who eats only plant based foods without dairy or eggs.

The downside to vegetarianism is that it takes a concerted effort to maintain proper nutrition levels, which include B12, zinc, omega-3, protein and calcium. Supplements are often the best choice, however, creating a variety of vegetarian food choices like soy, tempeh and seitan, help with many potential deficiencies. In addition, non-organic produce has been linked to GMO (genetically modifiedorganism), which is the practice of altered DNA for use in everything from a genetic pesticide to expanded growth. GMO is surrounded by many controversies and it is unclear whether the product is safe.

A vegetarian as well as a flexitarian may choose to eat the way she does strictly for the positive health benefits. A plant based diet has been linked to many health advantages, including lowering cholesterol, reducing heart disease, avoiding diabetes and controlling weight to name a few. In addition, many vegetarians see the benefit of their choice as a contribution to animal rights and as a positive environmental impact. 


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