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Eating Habits -- Food For Thought

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Everything food-related comes with labels these days.

family at dinner table

Lenore Moritz: At my children's school, the kids are tagged with food labels:

But I feel we reached a new low in humanity when we decided that we need no less than 11 different ways to talk about what we ingest. For the love of Spam, we all have a lot on our plates (pun definitely intended). Do we really need to clutter up our minds with all these words about what we eat?

It came to a head for me when my husband invited a work colleague over for dinner who mentioned that his wife was a "flexitarian." That was a new one on me. I had to look it up online; it means that she's mostly vegetarian, but sometimes will eat animals. Great -- now what? Do I make ratatouille and kind of lay some chicken on the side of the plate?

I don't really get why you need a label if you eat certain things sometimes. People who eat meat daily don't call themselves "daily-meatatarians," because they don't care if you know that their lips permit the entry of something that mooed.

Anyway, I was so intrigued by the "flexitarian" label that I decided to research other labels that might exist. While I was doing this (and shouting out my findings to my husband), my three-and-a-half-year-old told us he'd be a "candytarian." Yeah, buddy -- me too.

One of the groups I learned about is selectarians. Apparently, there's a debate brewing amongst yogis about whether or not meat is truly within the yogi lifestyle. Within this context, the label "selectarian" appeared, defined as "a person who can eat anything, as long as she/he is mindful about the choice." So evidently, you cannot be selectarian if you are eating ice cream from the container while watching "Desperate Housewives."

Here are more labels that sum up in one word what you ingest in a single day (they mostly describe vegetarian food choices, but):

  • Pescetarianism - allows fish

  • Pollotarianism - allows poultry

  • Lacto-ovo vegetarianism - allows for animal products like eggs, milk and honey

  • Lacto vegetarianism - allows dairy, but no eggs

  • Ovo vegetarianism - allows eggs, but no dairy

  • Veganism - allows no animal products at all

  • Raw veganism - allows only fresh and uncooked nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables

  • Fruititarianism - allows only fruits, nuts, seeds and other plant matter that doesn't harm a plant (How is this different from veganism? I'd like to ask.)

Truly, I respect anyone's choice to eat most anything, but I do feel the label thing has gotten over the top. The yogis should lay off one another -- judging doesn't seem like a very yogi-ish quality. I practice some yoga and meditation, and don't believe that my ability to achieve nirvana will be obstructed by turkey bacon.

At the dinner party for my husband's colleague, I opted to make a totally vegetarian meal, during which the guy's flexitarian wife shared a story about grilling up a delicious New York strip. I'm so confused. But just so you know (in case you ever invite me to dinner), I'm a flexi-pesce-pollotarian -- but please don't ever serve me okra.





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6 comments so far | Post a comment now
daphne February 26, 2010, 9:23 AM

Great topic. I am mystified. I used to be a vegetarian. Perhaps now I’m an omnitarian with vegetarian tendencies. I think we should understand where all our food comes from and even whether it is really, well, food.

Heather February 26, 2010, 11:01 AM

Fruititarianism and Veganism differ in that friutitarianism doesn’t “allow” for the eating of anything that has died, this includes killing of a plant. That’s why fruit is acceptable, it doesn’t kill the plant to take the fruit. Veganism however allows for the consumption of plantlife.

Christy Kujawa February 26, 2010, 11:48 AM

Ha! This column made me laugh out loud several times. I think I’m with your son.

michelle February 26, 2010, 12:33 PM

I love looking at societal labels and loved how you took this all to the next plane….so funny and great writing. Made my friday

lenore February 26, 2010, 2:42 PM

thanks for the explanation, heather!

Anonymous February 27, 2010, 3:36 PM

How about stupiditarian?


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