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Why do you think people say they are veg*n when they aren't?

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Old 07-09-2008, 12:22 PM   #31
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In regards to the entire thread, and because I feel the need for a disclaimer is building...I truly wish everyone the best on their own path to wellness, health and with eating whatever works best for YOU as an individual, be it animal, vegetable or mineral.
I honestly think this has been one of the calmest discussions between people with different views that I've seen in a while It's very refreshing actually to simply *discuss* without any "oh no, you're wrong" language popping up. So thanks again for an interesting read
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:30 PM   #32
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I think it's hard to put a label on things because it makes it all so finite and limited. Most of us make these choices for individual and personal reasons which can vary widely. For me, it's all about the ethics of the industry and the effect on the environment. Vegetarians are open to eating eggs. Most veggies I know will buy eggs at the supermarket. I won't. I search out the only store in town that sells bona fide local free range eggs from happy bug-eating sun loving chickens. I would rather see someone eat an occasional steak from a cow that has been treated with respect instead of abuse, raised in the sunshine, eating grass and romping in the fields, than eat an egg from a chicken torture chamber.
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:32 PM   #33
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But in saying "I am vegetarian, except I eat fish" a person is clearing up any confusion -- their diet is vegetarian (all plant-based), except they eat some fish. The confusion would instead lie in not tempering "I am vegetarian" with something, even if they still eat chicken or fish or Brisket. The person who tacks on the "but..." is, imo, honoring the accepted idea about what vegetarian means, the accepted definition. But in general, I *DO* believe that most of the words we use to *label ourselves* are approximations, merely bc people are rarely so black and white and purely and completely anything.

I think this issue lies in how political the label "vegetarian/vegan" is... a lot of people (not necessarily aiming this at you, SoulBliss, this is based on other people I know) treat being vegetarian or vegan like a political party or religion -- no room for those who deviate from the accepted ideology. I've even seen vegans tear down other strict vegans because they're vegan for the "wrong reasons." According to this group, it's only acceptable to be vegan out of concern for animals and to fight the factory system, not simply bc you prefer it for your personal health or you don't like meat and dairy or whatever. It's akin to calling yourself a membr of a religious group even though you disagree with some aspects of it and being shunned by those that consider themselves orthodox or fundamental or whatever -- it can get THAT heated.

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Yes, yes, YES!

Again, you are speaking my language!!! I am so glad to have your input here, especially since you aren't veg*n, because it's the principle of the thing, ya know? It's not about causing a division on a hierarchy (I'm not a snobby Sneech!!!) it's about being accurate so that there's consistency, so that others have an easier time being understood and having their needs met.

Next subject:

In regards to the entire thread, and because I feel the need for a disclaimer is building...I truly wish everyone the best on their own path to wellness, health and with eating whatever works best for YOU as an individual, be it animal, vegetable or mineral.
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:37 PM   #34
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I really don't care what people call themselves, and I'm not bothered by people that say they are vegetarian when they're not. It's just a word. I do care that people respect my personal limitations on what goes on my plate. I can't count how many times my own mother has said "you can have chicken broth as long as there's no chicken, can't you?"
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:42 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Suzanne 3FC View Post
I really don't care what people call themselves, and I'm not bothered by people that say they are vegetarian when they're not. It's just a word. I do care that people respect my personal limitations on what goes on my plate. I can't count how many times my own mother has said "you can have chicken broth as long as there's no chicken, can't you?"
Here's the question though...Can you see that people calling them something they are not often results in personal limitations being disrespected or misunderstood?

Servers in restaurants almost ALWAYS suggest fish or sea creatures when I ask for "vegetarian" offerings and makes me question EVERYTHING about what they say and what ends up on my plate, because if they think actual flesh is "vegetarian", then what other misinformed views do they have?
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:45 PM   #36
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I agree that there are many reasons a person might consider themselves to be a (whatever) where other people who consider themselves the same would disagree. I worked with a girl who considered herself Christian, but was sleeping unashamedly with her married boss, and took every opportunity to talk about it, bashing the (physically handicapped) wife. Yikes!


I'm not a veg*n, but I am a person who loves language and often want to convey precise meaning, and will invent words to do so, if I have to (or for some reason, can't access the existing term). I think that is what people are doing here. They don't have a word to describe what they are being asked to or are wishing to describe. Humans love to use verbal "shorthand" so unfortunately I think words and phrases such as "vegetarian, but..." or "flexitarian" are pretty much inevitable.

My MIL recently told us that she was "going vegetarian," and by that she meant she was going to eat meat much less frequently. I gave her the book "The Gradual Vegetarian" to introduce her to "real" vegetarianism, but in our area of the midwest, it's very common for people to be like the aunt in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," ("He doesn't eat MEAT?...... Ah, that ok, I make lamb.")

As a selective onmivore who has never been anything else, I have on occasion felt that I have offended someone (in their view) by masquerading as a vegetarian. A very bizarre incident in a health food store comes to mind, in which a woman assumed I was veg*n because I was buying tvp, and I was put in a spot where I felt obligated to correct her. I don't know why, but I left feeling that I had desecrated the store and the tvp bin (in her eyes) merely with my presence, and not sure whether I was "allowed" to shop there (crazy thought, and it passed).

When I've passed on my recipe (to other omnivores, I understand why a vegan would be horrified) for combining ground meat with tvp to create a mixture that is lower in calorie and fat and saves money, I sometimes get a reaction of horror, as if I'm mixing matter and antimatter and threatening the very existence of the universe by doing so. Even to those who have eaten soy meat products, the thought of mixing of the two is apparently quite disconcerting (if I had a nickel for every time someone asked, "you can do that?")

I want to say "of course... the risk of explosion is minimal if you know what you're doing."

As a person who has few moral objections to eating meat, I still find it astonishing how many fellow omnivores feel that a meal MUST contain meat (and usually a huge slab of it). Many are afraid to even try a vegetarian dish (at least unless you call it a side dish, rather than a maincourse). I think the term Flexitarian (or one like it) does help introduce the concept that a delicious meal does not have to have the huge slab o' meat at the center of it. In this modern world, this shouldn't be such a revolutionary concept, but I've found in entertaining friends and family, that it truly is. When I tell them there is no meat (at least not in the way they think of it) I've seen actual panic in people's eyes. It's a cultural thing (it's nearly impossible for my mom to try anything that doesn't closely resemble something she has eaten before).

Language is fluid and new words (of varying specificity) are constantly being created (even when the "old" ones would suffice). Our culture shapes our word choices, and our word choices shape out culture. I think the word "flexitarian" is both reflecting a change in attitudes, and also influencing the change in attitude about whether a meal "has to" contain meat (and how much).
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:45 PM   #37
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LOL -- me neither. Really, I got sick of the whole vegetarian/vegan badge of honor years ago -- the kind of vicious "fundamentalist" mentality that can at times surround the veg/vegan "movement" is a turn-off.

And yes, my mother has said similar things to me too. She once told me I could have chicken soup if I just eat around the hunks of chicken floating in there. Another time, she said I should partake in the pepperoni pizza -- just tear off the pepperoni.


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Originally Posted by Suzanne 3FC View Post
I really don't care what people call themselves, and I'm not bothered by people that say they are vegetarian when they're not. It's just a word. I do care that people respect my personal limitations on what goes on my plate. I can't count how many times my own mother has said "you can have chicken broth as long as there's no chicken, can't you?"
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:47 PM   #38
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Servers in restaurants almost ALWAYS suggest fish or sea creatures when I ask for "vegetarian" offerings and makes me question EVERYTHING about what they say and what ends up on my plate, because if they think actual flesh is "vegetarian", then what other misinformed views do they have?
Yeah, and this is why *I* have a problem with the "misuse" of the word, even though I'm not veggie of any kind. When the meaning of the word becomes so diluted, then it causes a problem in understanding.

I would venture to guess that's where the "you can have chicken broth" thing comes into play. If a person who calls herself a vegetarian says "oh but I eat fish" or "oh but I eat chicken" ... then that must mean that chicken broth is ok or fish broth is ok or shrimp are ok .. or whatever.

And so when you go to a restaurant or eat at a friend's house, you never know what you're getting ... because veggie no longer means veggie.

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Old 07-09-2008, 12:51 PM   #39
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I worked with a girl who considered herself Christian, but was sleeping unashamedly with her married boss, and took every opportunity to talk about it, bashing the (physically handicapped) wife. Yikes!
Ah. But this a different thing, because it plays more towards people's outside perceptions of what a "christian" should be, rather than something that is firmly defined. One is a Christian if one believes in Christ as the Son of God. That's it. You can be a good Christian or a bad Christian (good and bad being relative - my Baptist grandma would say I was being a bad Christian if I drank wine, whereas my Catholic mother wouldn't have a problem with it). You can have an affair, lie cheat and steal, and still believe in Christ. Therefore you're a Christian.

But if you identify yourself as a veggie, but you eat meat .. then you're not a veggie.

That would be like saying "I'm a Christian, but I don't believe in Jesus."

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Old 07-09-2008, 12:52 PM   #40
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But in saying "I am vegetarian, except I eat fish" a person is clearing up any confusion -- their diet is vegetarian (all plant-based), except they eat some fish. The confusion would instead lie in not tempering "I am vegetarian" with something, even if they still eat chicken or fish or Brisket. The person who tacks on the "but..." is, imo, honoring the accepted idea about what vegetarian means, the accepted definition.
Again, I altered my original post to make it "lighter" and in retrospect, should not have. Saying that one is "mostly veg*n" doesn't lead to as many issues as saying they *are* "veg*n" when they aren't. The bigger issue is people saying they are veg*n but then eating non veg*n things, as this leads to most of the confusion.

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I think this issue lies in how political the label "vegetarian/vegan" is... a lot of people (not necessarily aiming this at you, SoulBliss, this is based on other people I know) treat being vegetarian or vegan like a political party or religion -- no room for those who deviate from the accepted ideology. I've even seen vegans tear down other strict vegans because they're vegan for the "wrong reasons." According to this group, it's only acceptable to be vegan out of concern for animals and to fight the factory system, not simply bc you prefer it for your personal health or you don't like meat and dairy or whatever. It's akin to calling yourself a membr of a religious group even though you disagree with some aspects of it and being shunned by those that consider themselves orthodox or fundamental or whatever -- it can get THAT heated.
I see what you are saying and have to say that, in defense of some didactic veg*ns, it can be a sense of desperation about how the rest of the world doesn't "get it" that causes what looks like bizarre reactions in some. Veg*ns sometimes feel constantly assaulted by a world view that they can't wrap their heads around.

Personally, I feel that every time a person chooses to buy a green, less harmful, recycled, renewable item or products from a local farmer, grocer etc. it is a good thing indeed. Similarly, every time a person chooses to eat a plant based diet, it's good for them, good for the environment and good for the animals. I'd like for it to be a frequent or exclusive occurrence, but even if it's only once or twice a week, that is awesome and I support and applaud that wholeheartedly!
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:55 PM   #41
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I understand what you're saying, but if you say, "I am vegetarian, except I eat fish" you've pretty defined, imo, what you will eat -- anything plant-based (unless you dislike it for other reasons) and fish. I don't see how that could be interpreted in a way that would suggest you would have a hamburger and chicken wings as well. I mean, I think that if you temper "vegetarian" with something specific, the meaning of vegetarian doesn't lose its precise definition. Your diet is still all plant-based, except for the fish you eat.


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Originally Posted by PhotoChick View Post
Yeah, and this is why *I* have a problem with the "misuse" of the word, even though I'm not veggie of any kind. When the meaning of the word becomes so diluted, then it causes a problem in understanding.

I would venture to guess that's where the "you can have chicken broth" thing comes into play. If a person who calls herself a vegetarian says "oh but I eat fish" or "oh but I eat chicken" ... then that must mean that chicken broth is ok or fish broth is ok or shrimp are ok .. or whatever.

And so when you go to a restaurant or eat at a friend's house, you never know what you're getting ... because veggie no longer means veggie.

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Old 07-09-2008, 12:58 PM   #42
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Yeah, and this is why *I* have a problem with the "misuse" of the word, even though I'm not veggie of any kind. When the meaning of the word becomes so diluted, then it causes a problem in understanding.

I would venture to guess that's where the "you can have chicken broth" thing comes into play. If a person who calls herself a vegetarian says "oh but I eat fish" or "oh but I eat chicken" ... then that must mean that chicken broth is ok or fish broth is ok or shrimp are ok .. or whatever.

And so when you go to a restaurant or eat at a friend's house, you never know what you're getting ... because veggie no longer means veggie.

.
But then, to use the example I used earlier, should I either keep to a kosher diet or stop calling myself Jewish, so that I don't confuse people about what Jews eat? "Well, 3Beans eats leavened bread during Pesach, so what's YOUR problem, Rabbi?"

When we have dietary limitations, it is up to us to convey them when necessary. As someone said earlier there are many different types of vegetarians anyway. Without clarification, I may serve cheese to someone who isn't lacto. But I don't think I can blame that on someone who is lacto for misleading me. Right?
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Old 07-09-2008, 01:06 PM   #43
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Quoting 2 different people here:

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But then, to use the example I used earlier, should I either keep to a kosher diet or stop calling myself Jewish, so that I don't confuse people about what Jews eat? "Well, 3Beans eats leavened bread during Pesach, so what's YOUR problem, Rabbi?"
Ok, but Jewish is both cultural and religious. It's not meant to be *that* definitive. Even Christian is somewhat more definitive than Jew in the sense of having a fixed point of reference. If I drink wine, am I not a Christian? Well if I'm Baptist, I might be considered a bad Christian but I'm still a Christian because I believe in Christ, but if I'm Catholic, that's acceptable. Religious labels are a whole 'nother animal and I'm happy to discuss them, but I do think they're a red herring in this particular discussion.

Vegetarian is not a wide range of cultural and religious beliefs. It's a word with a very narrow defintion: a person who does not eat meat.


Quote:
"I am vegetarian, except I eat fish" you've pretty defined, imo, what you will eat -- anything plant-based (unless you dislike it for other reasons) and fish. I don't see how that could be interpreted in a way that would suggest you would have a hamburger and chicken wings as well.

I think that if you temper "vegetarian" with something specific, the meaning of vegetarian doesn't lose its precise definition.
The problem there as I see it is that YOU have defined it for you. But the bottom line is that you AREN'T a veggie if you eat fish. You can call yourself one, but you're not completely a vegetarian. Just like I could *say* "I'm a Christian, but I don't believe in Christ."

(Disclaimer - I realized I've been following the religious analogy here and I just wanted to say that I'm *not* actually a Christian, although I was raised in the church. So I won't be offended by anything anyone wants to throw out there!)

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Old 07-09-2008, 01:10 PM   #44
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Further disclaimer here - I'm enjoying the discussion and the exchange of opinions. I don't necessarily intend to sway anyone one way or the other ... I just like the discussion.

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Old 07-09-2008, 01:11 PM   #45
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I like people to use a term correctly too. But don't assume that people who use it incorrectly are trying to put on airs. That would probably be overestimating the value most non-veg*ns put on being veg*an. There's a saying, never attribute to malice what can be explained by simple stupidity. Well, in this case I wouldn't call it stupidity. Most people who are not veg*an quite naturally don't have much knowledge about it or great concern over using the terms just so. They might be cutting back on meat for any number of reasons, but they aren't necessarily going after a whole different mindset and lifestyle. By all means help correct misconceptions. I think that's necessary. But don't assume the worst. It's just life. The general public is never going to be as particular about things that may be of great to concern to a smaller group within the population. More power to you
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