I'm sometimes amazed that we feel we should justify why we eat what we eat to others. Whether it's explaining that the doughnut you're reaching for is okay because you worked out today (WTF, I'm never going to give a reason why I'm having a doughnut - I'm having one for no reason other than I just really want one!) or even why you're having a large coffee and not a small one. Since changing my eating habits, this has become quite apparent as a trait that we feel we should explain why we're eating something that others wouldn't expect us to.
Taking ownership for what we put in our bodies is so important; it shows we understand the context of that food in our diet and overall lifestyle.
I've been a vegetarian (well, pescatarian to be more precise) since I was 16. That's fast-approaching 20 years. I had a brief sabbatical in my early twenties, got food poisoning from some thai red curry and promptly went back to being a veggie again. Since then, I won't lie, occasionally I get a hankering and it's nearly always for roast chicken. My lifestyle choice was mostly a result of eating meat as a child and not really enjoying it unless it was highly processed - the only conclusion I could come to was that it was more of a texture thing. Reaching 16 meant I could virtually account for myself as far as breakfast, lunch and dinner went and so I decided to more formally declare myself a veggie but that I would continue to eat fish. About 10 years later, I learned that had a name too so since then, I've more formally been a pescatarian.
Right before Christmas last month, I knew my other half was going to cook a turkey crown (just for himself, I might add) and I had a veggie option waiting in the wings for the big festive day. But I made a conscious decision that I was going to relax off and have some of his lovingly basted, lovingly carved turkey. And it was good! Since then, I've enjoyed some lunches with turkey breasts and even cooked a whole chicken last week.
To say this has caused some confusion and raised eyebrows would be an understatement. Mostly, I've found my nearest and dearest trying to understand 'what I am now' because of this decision to eat a bit of poultry from time to time. Lots of people have asked if it's because I struggled to get enough protein as a pescatarian and honestly? It's nothing to do with that; although I find chicken and turkey a great source of lean protein, it's just more about scratching an itch to have a certain food. I never struggled to get adequate protein as a veggie, even if fish wasn't in the equation.
So what am I now? Seriously? I'm not anything. I'm not a vegetarian, I'm not a pescatarian and I'd go as far as saying I'm not a flexatarian either (which seems to be the closest 'descriptor' of my current eating habits). I'm a human who eats what I fancy, when I fancy it. I want chicken? I'm having chicken. I want quorn-something-or-other? I'll have that. Yum. I want doughnuts? Hell yes, I'm having doughnuts. I don't think the food we eat should define us, I think we should understand the role of foods in our diet and in relation to our goals and lifestyle.
I choose flexible dieting because it represents a freedom around food I never knew existed until about 2 years ago. Now I know for sure, flexibility is the key and a label relating to what's 'off limits' or 'allowed' is absolutely not an approach that's right for me. I understand it will work for people who believe killing animals or keeping animals for food production is wrong, and I respect that.
For me, I'm just me... now with added chicken :)