Labels, we have them thrust upon us, and we do the same to others.
Generally, when someone uses a label, there is a common understanding of that word, example
But sometimes, the labels people use are more about how people wish they were, rather than how they really are.
Taking the words
vegetarian, do these words mean the same for everyone who uses them – either to describe themselves or others, and what happens when they don’t.
Questions that I get asked frequently are variations on, what do people CALL themselves:
- what do you call a vegetarian who eats chicken?
- what do you call a vegetarian who eats cheese?
- what do you call a vegan who eats fish?
- what do you call a vegan who eats cheese and fish?
- what do you call a vegetarian who eats fish but not dairy?
Vegan, vegetarian, freegan, herbivore, locavore, plant-based diet, cheesatarian, cheegan, beegan, part-time vegan, part-time vegetarian, pesco-vegan, lacto-ovo vegan, flexitarian, strict vegetarian, Lebanese vegetarian, or the monstrously pretentious “plant-strong” (Esselstyn).
Argh!! make it stop….. so many labels, so little time to read the dictionary
is a lacto-ovo-pesco-pollo-bovine-porcine vegetarian one who eats eggs and dairy, and occasionally fish, sometimes chicken, sometimes beef, and sometimes pork? The word loses all meaning when accompanied by so many qualifications.
- Dan Balogh: Hitler: Goose Stepper and Goose Eater
In some cases the use of labels for Vegan and Vegetarian can be problematic, especially when used strangely out of correct context:
- My partner was introduced to a new work colleague as being
the vegan of the office, you know, that’s a type of vegetarian.His response
yes, much in the same way a Jewish person is a type of Buddhist, in that they both, you know, believe in Stuff
- Or, the Facebook vegan warrior who tried to tell me I wasn’t entitled to call myself Vegan because I watched Jamie Oliver. And then proceeded to tell me about his diet, including a morning protein drink made with whey… (ah, sweetie, whey is actually a dairy product).
- Or, a friend who tried to tell me that there are two types of vegetarians: those who eat meat and those who don’t
and no matter how hard I tried, I could not convince her that No type of vegetarian eats meat, unless it is the pseudo-vegetarian
- Or, the restaurant near me that lists prawn cutlets on their vegetarian menu, and they don’t mean faux prawns either
- Or, a vegetarian couple I know, one eats bacon and the other chicken wings,
were they at least from a vegetarian chicken?I asked, to much scorn)
Every time a person calls themselves a vegetarian but continues to eat animals, the result is, it just makes life more complicated for the real vegetarians.
Same with vegan, when someone eats dairy, or wears leather, eats sealife, but says, they are vegan, it just makes life much more difficult for the real vegans who try to convince others that – No, vegans don’t, in fact, eat fish, wear leather, drink milk, buy Cover Girl cosmetics.
Without discounting the possible good a mostly-vegetarian-but-not-quite could do…. If they eat meat they are not vegetarian.
So, perhaps, we need a new word for people who try hard – perhaps something like: potential-vegetarian, mostly-vegetarian, transitioning-vegetarian.
The same goes for people who claim the badge of VEGAN, yet deliberately consume animal products or wear animal products. (I do not count people who have their food spiked in this category, some chefs still think that is funny, what matters is intent).
Do people who call themselves VEGAN while wearing leather, or eating animal products, not know that what they are doing is Not vegan, or do they hope no one will notice, or do they just not care?
How about the vegetarian who consumes sea-animals, bacon, chicken – what does vegetarian actually mean to them? They don’t eat beef?
This is an example of
label creep where the meaning of vegan degrades to mean vegetarian, and vegetarian degrades to mean someone who eats vegetables occasionally.
Like the social smoker, who never smokes during the week, but does a packet on the weekend, then tries to claim the label of
Or, the factory-owner who claims be a humanitarian, while paying slave-wages to children locked in factories for 16-hours a day, but for the other eight hours, they’re a true champion of human rights.
Perhaps they want to be vegan, but are unable to – however, if desire alone could make someone something they are not, like a Vegan of a person regardless of what they eat, wear, buy…. then I could call myself a
world famous celebrity, but that wouldn’t make it true either.
But, if the desire is there to be a vegan or a vegetarian, then… good on them.
That is a lot more than most people. And perhaps with a little encouragement and a lot of support, these part-time vegetarians could go all the way.
How is this even possible for a fish / sea-life eater to claim to be in anyway a vegan?
There is no part-time vegans, it just cannot be.
Part time vegan refers to their diet only, then, in this case the label should be
strict vegetarian, which means a vegan diet but non vegan lifestyle.
90% is good, rather, it is a good START, but the important thing is – what about the other 10%, I am not sure those fish and other sea-creatures would take much comfort as they are being shoveled down the throat of a pesco-vegan that for 90% of the time, other animals didn’t have to die.
Would we accept 90% for cases of wrongly executed death-row prisoners?
Well now, we got a strike rate of 90% guilty, and only 10% innocent people mistakenly executed, that’s a win-win situation.
People who eat cheese are not vegan, no matter how famous they are
People who eat cheese and eggs are not vegan, no matter how famous they are or how much more they do for animals than me. Fine, they’re bloody heroes, give them a medal, put them on a stamp, build a statue of them, name a bridge or a street after them – but if they eat cheese, they are not vegan.
Once we start making exception based on the career of people, where does it stop?
Or, are only commoners supposed to be actual-vegans, while celebrities can be almost-vegans?
And, for some reason, there are many vegans get personally offended when you say that eating cheese deliberately is not vegan.
And, almost as outraged when you say that wearing leather is not vegan. Some vegans get all uppity: But, but, but, but Anne Hathaway ate a vegan dessert once, shes one of us, where as you Redglitter are just some militant vegan, giving us a bad name.
The response is like: How dare you attack Alicia! She is our Goddess. You are a Nothing, hear me, You are less than Nothing Redglitter!
Fine, I’ll take that, Militant and Less Than Nothing, perhaps…. but I AM definitely vegan.
It seems, though, that what this defenders of cheese-eating vegans, and leather-wearing vegans, miss…. I’m not attacking an egg-and-dairy-eating, leather wearing, vegan, I am trying to defend the concept of vegan, before it becomes meaningless, before it dilutes into vegetarian, and vegetarian dilutes into ‘eats a vegetable occasionally’
So, to answer the questions that I set asked at the top of this post
- What do you call a vegetarian who eats chicken? Pseudo-vegetarian or Omnivore
- What do you call a vegetarian who eats cheese? A vegetarian
- What do you call a vegan who eats fish? A omnivore
- what do you call a vegan who eats cheese and fish? An omnivore
- what do you call a vegetarian who eats fish but not dairy? A dairy-free omnivore.
*Lebanese vegetarian – I’ve been called that when I try to explain what vegan is, I didn’t realise things were different in Lebanon
*Lacto-Ovo-Meli-Pesco-Pollo-Porcine-Ovis-Bovine-atarians = dairy, eggs, honey, fish, chicken, pork, sheep and beef – atarian
In particular Ann Berlin – speaking on behalf of ALL of ALF, though If I was in the ALF, Im not sure I would be telling everyone, from a security point of view – but thank you anyway for your pointing out how little I know of veganism and animal rights from my perspective.
Who knew that as a vegan – from some point way back in the misty days of the 1980s I would have learned nothing in all that time about what vegan means to me, and how AR feels to me.
Because heaven knows, we all have to experience everything exactly the same way and form the same opinions on absolutely everything and be in total agreeance about absolutely everything all of the time.
And anytime my experience of an event differs from anyone elses then someone HAS TO BE WRONG, because clearly two people cannot, simply CAN NOT experience the world in different ways.
So to all those VEGANS who continually correct me, how about we take a page from the dictator, cult, communist, fascist playbook, and you tell me what to think.
Ill just open my brain and you can wash it, all lemony fresh and indoctrinated.
And one more thing, for someone claiming to be ALF to be so hell bent on group think indoctrination – LAUGHABLE – isnt that one of your criticisms against Francione, don’t you call his followers ZOMBIES??
Really – you want me to think and write and believe EXACTLY LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, but when Francione’s minions do it, they are ZOMBIES?
Thank you for opening my eyes about the BRAINWASHING CULT OF ALF.
so, Ann Berlin, blah blah blah, you know EVERYTHING, I know NOTHING, in your opinion, so why don’t I just shut up and leave you as the only expert on this planet on everything vegan, how’s that?
Alienating people who could be your allies, charming woman you are.
If you fight for animal rights, you fight for the rights of all animals, there are no exceptions for those you think taste good.
Apparently my previous post upset a lot of people. (Justifying Meat Eating – ridiculous things meat-eaters say), even more so than my anti-vegetarian posts or where I point out that eating cheese isn’t actually vegan.
But the comments and insults are the same….
– Cut the vegan-cheese eaters some slack. Cut the meat eaters some slack. You are too militant and give vegans a bad name.
I even had one person say that I am too critical of meat eaters and that makes me a bad vegan. She justified her OPINION saying:
“I fight for animal rights, but I’m no vegan…”
No really, say what? You fight for animal RIGHTS by EATING THEM??? or wearing them??
Did I miss something? How is it that you think consuming any animal product contributes to their rights?
I do not understand how someone who says they believe in animal rights can consume a product that is produced from slavery and torture and murder.
Perhaps they don’t truly believe at all.
Seriously, I do not understand – perhaps someone can explain it to me.
Eggs, consumed by animal loving vegetarians…
Does this look like “animal rights”?
How about dairy production?
What part of this Mercy for Animals video represents the rights of these cows?
Yeah, I can see how some animal rights activists might confuse this for liberation… um, no, I don’t.
Like a vegetarian who sees nothing exploitative with consuming, dairy or eggs or honey (some thoughtful reasons why this is a confusing rationale for a vegetarian to make, here: Why Veganism is a Feminist Issue). There seems to be a disconnect when people say they fight for animal rights, but continue to personally consume their corpses or products from their bodies.
If someone willingly and knowingly consumes any commercial animal product and does not see they horror behind it, they either cannot know where their food (and other consumables) comes from or they know and simply do not care.
As this previous post discusses, Cheese: The Other White Meat (why cheese eaters are problematic for vegans), the problem with cheese / dairy is that there is so much death involved. Similar stories are found in egg production and honey production.
And these are the people I’m not being NICE enough too?
You have got to be kidding me!
If you want someone being NICE about the reason people consume corpses, perhaps a blog called “vegan animal liberation” is not the place to go looking for it.
and, Why is it that VEGANS are always having to modify what they do, so they don’t “offend” those who eat the corpses of slaughtered animals. Ooh careful, don’t want to upset the very people whose selfishness is the direct cause of this exploitation, cruelty, slavery and murder.
Oh, and is it even possible to be too MILITANT when it comes to fighting for justice and liberation for animals, all animals.
Why must I, as a vegan, compromise. (As I am so often told I must)
From a vegan viewpoint, people who say they fight for animal rights, but aren’t yet vegan, make the fight a whole lot harder.
Outsiders who look at these people see them eating animal products or wearing animal products, may think that it is acceptable.
This is a common complaint that vegans, and in particular abolitionist vegans make against groups like PETA. When PETA campaigns for larger cages for the chickens used by companies like McDonalds or KFC, the message that non-vegans get is that animal rights activists think that there is an acceptable size of the cages. A concept that Gary Francione has called “New Welfarism”.
These welfarist campaigners are a worse than people who do nothing, that just make it a lot harder for real animal rights changes. (Imagine it from the other side – the meat producers say “what? you want no cages? no meat? no eggs? only last week, you said that if we increased our cages by an inch, you would consider that a victory”… such as the ludicrous demands from PETA to Sonic that “The company just agreed to begin purchasing eggs and to double the amount of meat it purchases from suppliers that use less cruel production methods.”)
I’m not laughing.
Although, I do appreciate what they do, I appreciate that they can contribute to fight, and I accept that meat eaters can do a lot, I don’t understand how they can say what they are fighting for is animal rights, but rather “animal welfare”.
So, all that remains is for me to ask these people – if you know all that know, why are you not vegan?
Personally, I don’t believe it is possible to fight for animal RIGHTS and not be vegan.
This is not about being militant, it is about the suffering and cruelty and exploitation of the animals.
Some people may take offense to this, thinking that I am saying what they do is not good enough. I am just trying to add another side to the debate, and like this post The Dreaded Vegan Discussion… Critical Thoughts Encouraged… shows – the vegan community is large and diverse and all voices are (should be) encouraged.
People who eat meat will say just about anything to themselves and to others so they do not have to face the reality of what it is they are actually eating.
For a start, they call it “meat”, rather than what it was before slaughter, a cow, calf, sheep, lamb, pig, fish, chicken. “Meat” puts some distance between what they are eating and the life their dinner used to have previously.
But the latest I was told recently was so bizarre, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
This person justified their eating animals this way….
A wise native person told me that we honour animals by eating them. They give up their lives for us. It’s the circle of life. When we eat animals, we gain nourishment, then when we die, we go into the ground and animals eat us
Where does a sensible person start with all the things so very wrong with that response.
For a start, the person telling me that was not a “native person”. So, my thought, is “so what?”. Maybe that is how things are for anonymous wise native people, but not for a white guy in the suburbs.
And we “honour” them? I honour my grandparents too, I respect them for what they have done for me. But, ah, I wouldn’t honour them by eating them.
I don’t see what is “honourable” with wantonly slaughtering a defenceless animal that has never had a chance to live and then eat it.
Want to know what is more honourable – Not eating dead animals!
After all, a dead animal is a corpse. If the idea of eating roadkill is so disgusting to people, what’s the difference between that and what is on their plate.
What about the whole “they give up their lives for us” – much like the similar “they sacrifice their lives”. Doesn’t this imply that the animals being eaten have some kind of CHOICE? That they have the option to live or be eaten, and choose to end their lives on someone’s plate?
No animal gives up their life. It is taken from them.
Now, about that “circle of life” – the whole circle of life has been severely disrupted over the past couple of hundred years. Industrialisation has changed things. Whereas previously people had to go out and hunt, and see for themselves the animal in their natural habitat, and watch as the life was drained from their bodies.
Modern industrial slaughter processes remove the killing part for consumers, so they don’t see the life and death.
This is an example of “cognitive dissonance”, where the mind denies what it already knows. People know where their food comes from, this is why they get squeamish if a vegan talks about “slaughter”. They don’t want to hear it, because then then would have to acknowledge what they are eating. They know, but the avoid, so can pretend they don’t know.
Humans have removed themselves from the “circle”, we are at the edge.
And as for our bodies providing nourishment for other animals – the animals that people tend to eat the most are not carnivores, they are placid herbivores.
I’ve never seen a cow chose to eat a dead human. I have never seen a lamb choose to eat a dead human.
Or a chicken, or a pig.
People eat far more animals, which necessitates the killing of huge numbers of animals, way more than their corpses would ever feed.
The excuses people make to continue their selfish greed of eating dead animals never ceases. They eat animals because they think it is their right.
*Oh, and, I know that all animal products involve cruelty and death, I am not saying that milk is harmless or eggs are harmless, because this post is in response to a comment someone made to justify their eating of meat.
Editted to add:
A comment on here, which I marked as spam, for it seemed like straight up trolling, criticised me for giving vegans a bad name for being militant. Um, moron, what exactly is militant about laughing at meat eaters. Seriously, dude, get a life, if you think that this post is militant, you clearly cannot be a vegan in the traditional Donald Watson Vegan Society definition of the word.