Thursday, May 3, 2007
What do you call a person who eats meat? A vegetarian, according to the June/July issue of Plenty magazine. The article, "Vegetarian with benefits," starts off with: "Not so long ago, fish-eating vegans and bacon-loving vegetarians would have found it difficult to explain their preferences to potential dinner-party hosts -- let alone maintain their street cred with other ecophile foodies. These days, though, it's common to meet people whose dietary regimens fall outside traditional categories like vegetarian, vegan and omnivore." Before I comment on these statements, let me applaud anyone who reduces the amount of meat she eats. I think that's wonderful. But, you should probably go vegan because it's the best way to live as ethically, healthfully and environmentally friendly as possible. What about definitions? Do we care so little about what words mean? If you eat meat and plant products, you are an omnivore. If you don't eat any meat, including fish, but still consume dairy products and/or eggs, you are a vegetarian. If you forego all animal products, you are a vegan. It is that simple. Please don't mess with the meaning of words. You are only hurting the cause of vegetarianism by misusing "vegan" and "vegetarian." There is already so much misinformation out there about us. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked if I eat fish. A fish is an animal with flesh. I don't eat it. How would you like it if people started calling themselves doctors even though they haven't graduated from an approved medical school? What if they offered their medical services to you? It'd make you darn right nervous if you knew the truth, I'm guessing. You trust someone to use the definition of the word "doctor" properly. Words have meanings. These meanings are not flexible. If the meaning does not match, find a word that fits it. And if you are going to call yourself a vegan, please to not order the porter steak.