Food and eating trends are just like fashion –constantly changing and there are clear seasonal trends. To me personally, food trends are a little easier to spot and seem to have a much more solid, extended impact on the market.
And as much as I’m talking about gourmet onion rings, pork belly and the Spanish influx, I’m also talking about diets and a eating habits – are you really vegan, or are you just a trendatarian?
Trendatarian loosely translates as someone that’s embraced a particular food style without looking into the background of it – while it’s great to go all organic, or stop eating pork, do you know why? Have you properly researched why organic food is better for you, why chemicals are harmful and how to shop for it properly? Have you looked into the facts about animal cruelty and breeding conditions before committing to that lifestyle? I’m not saying it’s wrong at all, I just think it’s important to be informed about lifestyle choices before using corresponding labels.
I’ve eaten as a vegetarian most of my life (partly because I just feel more healthy consuming less meat), but if a meat dish looks particularly exciting I’ll eat it – partly because I need to extend my food education, and partly because it looks downright delicious.
That’s why I ditched the label a long time ago. It’s not fair to real vegetarians to call myself that because it creates confusion and a sense of fakeness around the term and I know way too many people that have been offered fish or seafood as a vego alternative as a result.
I’m as guilty as everyone else as jumping on the trend train – I often switch between croquettes with my foodie friends and organic tofu with my uni friends, but the biggest difference was when I did the raw food diet for a month – not a ‘diet’ so to speak, but just as an experiment to change how I ate – both to challenge my cooking skills and to see how my body reacted.
While I felt awesome and healthier, and was frequently challenged to be more creative – the biggest change was in how my friends perceived my new eating habits. I ate a cooked meal in front of them and was questioned about it not being raw. Without realising, I had given myself a label and if I ate outside of that label, it was perceived as going off the wagon. That felafel was my shot of tequila.
After watching a particularly compelling food movie, one of my friends went from committed carnivore to full on vegetarian. She confessed that now if she eats meat, she feels like a failure.
I think just like anything else in life, giving yourself a label isn’t always the best approach to starting something new. Embracing trends will always be part of our culture but committing to changing your eating habits is a long process. Ditch the label and if you really, really want a burger, be kind to yourself and don’t spend the next few days stressing over it.
***Originally published by the Courier Mail