Do you know your lacto-ovo vegetarian from a flexitarian, a semi-veggie from a pesce-pollotarian? Oh and when was the last time you had a bit of mycoprotein on toast or a bowl of TVP (textured vegetable protein) spag bol? These latest food words are simply the result of trend-spotting for the sake of it; fussy eaters are nothing new to the food world. Besides, which is better:
a) “I eat meat but I don’t think it’s a sustainable long-term solution for the planet so I also eat a lot of vegetarian food” or:
b) “I’m a flexitarian”.
The first sounds like gas being released from a methane-ridden McDonald’s cow, the second like a sexy fashion-house intern who finished Fifty Shades last night.
The words may have media sex appeal but they actually mean nothing. All you need to know is the following: vegetarians don’t eat meat. Not even fish. You are a meat-eater if you eat meat. Terms such as flexitarian and semi or demi-veggie (sounds like a ballet move) give you freedom: freedom to sit on the flaky food fence somewhere in the purgatorial coalition half-reality where strong opinions have been humanely removed. So relax, kick back and sup on a glass of low-alcohol wine to complement your guilt-free fake sausage casserole with Quorn bacon jus, safe in the knowledge that you will offend no-one and that it’s almost time for Downton Abbey.
This is the Nescafé Half Caff effect, almost comparable to having your cake and eating it, but not quite; this is more subtle and more informed. A Half Caff would never admit to having so much fun. The Half Caff effect works like this: you like drinking coffee but because you’ve read in the Sunday supplements that it might be bad for you, you think it’s probably better to drink less of it, until that is, you discover coffee can have beneficial effects on the brain. Dilemma? No, by opting for Half Caff, the dilemma is effectively removed. It’s the same for demi-veggies: ‘Oh those poor cute animals, I feel so bad but I just lurve the taste of bacon, awwww it’s so difficult!’ Not anymore. Become a ‘semi-demi’ and the guilt goes, besides, who’s got time for guilt these days? So passé.
To conclude. The media make up silly words. People lie. We all have to eat. So let’s not lie about what we eat please. What the food industry needs are honest discussions about some of the hugely important food dilemmas facing us all as we draw up our weekly shopping list. Hiding behind food labels and peeking out smugly at the rest of us from the safety of demi-ism is pathetic. If you eat meat, do it properly, head, lungs, kidneys and all, not just the occasional free-range skinless chicken breast. And if you’re a vegetarian for welfare reasons, just remember the hundreds of thousands of veal calves that are killed every year to keep us in skinny Half Caff faff-acinos.