The problem with diet labels

My New Years resolution in 2013 was to stop eating meat with the goal of improving my health, minimizing my contribution to a cruel industry and, most importantly, reducing my negative impacts on the environment. For over three years, I’ve done my best to eat as few animals and animal products as possible. For a few months I even maintained a completely vegan diet. However, I certainly can’t say I haven’t eaten any meat since then.

While in my coastal hometown, I regularly eat fish if I know it’s fresh, local and sustainable. On special occasions I’ve been known to indulge in a palatable duck dish or try a bite of a friend’s filet mignon. So when people ask me if I’m a vegan, a vegetarian, or a pescatarian, I am always hesitant to answer. 

Donald Watson coined the term vegan in the  1940’s and since then there have been countless labels invented to signify one’s dietary restrictions. A “flexitarian” diet  refers to minimizing meat consumption without excluding it completely. “Climatarian” made the New York Times list of the “Top New Food Words” meaning “a diet whose primary goal is to reverse climate change”. 

With so many labels, it is difficult to discern which embodies a diet like mine. However, I can agree that my ultimate goal is to limit my consumption of animal products as much as possible, so that is what I will continue telling people.


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