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Flexitarians: Vegans friend or foe

The world is divided into two kinds of people. Vegans and non-vegans. Those who consume animal products and those who don’t and there’s a pretty rigid and clear boundary that separates the two. 

If you have ever been on a vegan group on social media, you may have seen those who are less than perfect vegans being chastised and educated on what a true vegan is, and it is pretty clear. There is no room for confusion. A vegan is someone that avoids the consumption of animal products whenever practicable and possible.


What then are flexitarians?


A flexitarian diet can comprise all of this food

To most vegans, these guys are almost a dirty word on their lips. The in-betweeners. Flexitarians are essentially those who avoid animal products for the most part of their lives but make exceptions every now and then.

They are the self-proclaimed grey area between the black and white that is veganism and non-veganism. However, as debated as they are, the question arises of whether they are a friend to the vegan community or the complete opposite?

 On the one hand, they are seen as traitors to the vegan community because they “cheat” on their otherwise plant-based diets. On the other hand, some vegans welcome these 'flexis' as friends because they are not as extreme and “against” vegans as most meat eaters

They will be the friend that comes along with us to a new vegan restaurant. The friend that would take the trouble to cook a vegan meal for us when we visit.


Let’s crunch the numbers


When you look deep into what veganism is, it is a game of numbers. It is said that a vegan saves up to 200 lives of land animals every year. Sadly, the numbers for sea life are too great and unknown to be calculated. 200 lives a year accounts for 0.19 land animals per vegan meal, on average at 1095 meals a year. 

This means that every time a non-vegan eats a vegan meal, they save 0.19 land animals a year. This number might seem small but the numbers add up. If a flexitarian eats X plant-based meals, morality debates aside, they save the lives of 0.19 into X meals every year.


The truth is, as much as we hate to admit it, these flexitarians might actually be more friends than foes and we need to embrace them. In an ideal world, we would all be vegan and no animals would have to die. However, the chances of someone making the transition from being a full-on carnivore to a flexitarian is far more likely than them transitioning to a vegan, although this would be the dream!


Activism strategy of focusing on each meal


Vegan activists exposing the meat industry

Yes, we want everyone to go vegan, which should be ideal. This, however, takes time. Perhaps a better strategy would be to focus on small changes, one meal at a time. Take a meat eater friend to a vegan restaurant. Cook them a vegan meal at home. 

Send over a vegan cake. Every time a non-vegan buys a vegan cake over a non-vegan cake, they are voting with their money without even realizing it. When non-vegans buy a vegan cake and take it to their workplace or a party, they spread veganism without knowing they are doing it. The numbers are increasing. The votes are being placed.


If a vegan restaurant sells just 10 vegan meals to non-vegans in a day, non-vegans who would usually have eaten meat, they are saving 2 lives right there. The numbers add up. If the restaurant sells 1095 meals in a particular year to non-vegans, that is the equivalent of a person becoming vegan. 

In addition to these basic numbers, exposing non-vegans to vegan food will more than likely result in them buying the food, again and again, thereby creating a more vegan-friendly world.