“Wait, I thought you said you were a vegan,” my friend Joey said when he saw me getting a drumstick.
“No. I’m a part-time vegan! I eat most of my meals vegan, but I sometimes eat meat if I feel I need to,” I said.
“Just call yourself an ‘omnivore.’ There is no shame of letting people know you eat meat. Stop this ‘part-time vegan’ B.S. Your part-time vegan thing literally means omnivore.”
No, a part-time vegan is not an omnivore. I have been arguing with friends about this concept for a year since I decided to call myself a part-time vegan. Vegans call me a “hypocrite” who rejects the idea of eating animals but still eats and inadvertently supports the murdering of them. Omnivores call me a poser who follows the vegan trend without truly understanding it, and they encourage me that I should be satisfied with the name “omnivore” without feeling ashamed. Both groups agree that part-time veganism is half-assed moralism. There is a stigma on this dietary practice, and that is because not many people truly know what it is.
One thing I should reiterate is that part-time veganism is not veganism at all. Imagine there were a range where omnivorism and veganism hold the two ends, part-time veganism would fall somewhere in between, but be more likely to yield toward veganism. They definitely share a common promotion of eating more plant-based food for ethical purposes. Both are aware that the meat-eating culture takes a serious toll on animals, the environment and individuals’ health. However, there are still differences between these two diets in terms of their approaching methods.
First, the majority of part-time vegans prioritize the environmental and health reasons. Therefore, they do not want to get involved in the debate about animal rights and are unhappy when people think blame them for breaking vegan values. Second, part-time vegans allow occasional meat consumption because they allow themselves to listen to their huntsman intuition. Not all bodies are designed to eat 100 percent vegan. In order to comply with the physiological and physical system, part-time veganism allows eaters to practice ethics and save the environment, while still satisfying their instinctive appetite. In fact, research has shown that part-time veganism is more sustainable in the long term. According to Psychology Today, 84 percent of vegetarians and vegans go back to eating meat products. The major reason is because they have suppressed the craving for meat for a long time, and when they hit that meat-desire peak, they go crazy. Part-time veganism fixes these drawbacks by allowing moderate intake of meat, avoiding bitter resignation and distrust for the pursuits. Last but not least, part-time veganism allows flexibility with dietary choices in an era that many cannot actively control their diets and cannot always get access to quality vegan foods. It enables individuals to be mindfully flexible without creating extra guilt and stresses to themselves like full-time vegans. It also reduces the hypocrisy if the person has to eat meat due to the contextual circumstances.
Like gender, I do not think my diet should fit into any categories. I do not call myself “omnivore” or “flexitarian” because those names do not highlight the culture of eating veggies. These labels also do not show the highly different ratio between vegan meals and meat-involved meals that we are eating to make an impact on the world and ourselves. Part-time vegans are no half-asses like they are often portrayed. We eat for ethics, but are also realistic with our huntsman intuition, eat mindfully but also stay flexible in tandem with the circumstances. We believe that in order to make a change, one does not need to suppress their own needs completely, but can make meaningfully moderate changes in their eating habits.
Nhi Nguyen is a sophomore sociology major. She’s also a program coordinator for Trinity Body Project. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram @trinitybodyproject. She also bikes to help the climate!