​Does Veganism Have To Be All-Or-Nothing?

We've never been more well-educated when it comes to what and how we eat - and with this increasingly global conscience, many of us no longer feel comfortable merely being passive consumers. We're grabbing our daily diets by the horns and stripping it of palm oil, making sure it doesn't come wrapped in plastic, trying to keep it both local and seasonal.

But perhaps the most prevalent change we're all making? That would be our consumption of meat and dairy.

In an annual survey of shopping and eating habits by Waitrose, the supermarket found that people are stepping away from their meat-centric ways and adopting what is known as a 'flexitarian' lifestyle - meaning they still eat meat, but do so very sparingly. Basically having your beef and eating it too, with a side of smug.

The report said: "One in eight Brits, almost 13 percent of the population, is now vegetarian or vegan, with a further 21 percent identifying as flexitarian. This means that a third of us now have meat-free or meat-reduced diets.

"But half of all those who say they're vegetarian or vegan also eat meat 'at weekends', 'occasionally' or 'on special occasions'."

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Waitrose executive chef Jonathan Moore added: "Vegetarianism has grown and evolved - people dip in and out of it."

However, while many of us find ourselves claiming to others that we don't even each much meat anyway, or that our diets are 'more-or-less' vegan (give or take a slice of cheese every now and again), how much truth is there in what we're saying? Are we giving ourselves a little too much praise?

And, maybe even more importantly, is the occasional meat-free Monday even that effective?

One vegan recently when viral after posting a series of tweets that urged people considering the vegan lifestyle to essentially go hard or go home - cutting down or making more ethical switches isn't enough.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Citing a Guardian article that said to mitigate the worst of climate change, the US and UK need to reduce meat consumption by 90 percent, Christopher Sebastian wrote: "But all I ever hear from y'all is, 'Well I don't eat that much meat anyway.' Since math is not your strong suit, let me break this down for you...

"According to Forbes, the average American will eat 222 lb of meat in 2018. That's 0.61 lb per day (or just over ½ lb). To reduce that by 90 percent would mean eating 0.06 lb. That's roughly 1 oz (or 27 g for the Europeans). Do you know what 1 oz of meat looks like? I'm glad you asked...

"Four ounces of steak is the rough equivalent of a pack of cards. So cut into quarters, 1 ounce is the size of... A Single. Pat. Of. Butter. Do you see what I'm getting at? Do you see what I'm trying to say?

"Here's what all the journalists are too scared to tell you because they're pissy ass little punks who are as much a piece a shit as you are about this - in order to save your own miserable fucking lives, you have to effectively ELIMINATE your meat consumption.

"And before I have to slap the shit out of anybody whispering under your breath about 'Well that's why I only eat fish', that's probably the WORST thing you can do. Overfishing will cause our oceans to collapse by 2048. Without oceans, it's GAME OVER for life on this planet."

While some other Twitter users were in agreement with his sentiment, others said that the extreme, go-hard-or-go-home mentality might intimidate and put off people considering veganism.

One person wrote: "90 percent reduction = 100 percent reduction. No one's going to have their 27g a day in daily bites, we'll save up and have a burger once a week. Think that's a message that will go over a little better too."

Another added: "Bullying people into having the same opinion as you is pathetic. Unfortunately most of what I see on veganism is like this."

Others argued that the vegan lifestyle is to some degree 'classist' - perhaps indicated by the fact that the report mentioned above came from middle-class haven Waitrose.

What do you think? Should veganism be an all-or-nothing choice, or are the little steps here and there at least a nod to the right direction?

Featured Image Credit: PA

Jess Hardiman

Jess Hardiman is a journalist who graduated from Manchester University with a BA in Film Studies, English Language and Literature, and has previously worked for Time Out and The Skinny among others.

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