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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, 01:22 PM   #46
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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.
Sometimes I think it can be a case of an (unintentional) lack of understanding of a situation. My MIL#2 does not eat meat or poultry, or wear leather, and like you, won't buy eggs unless she can find them certified free range but has always eaten fish, particularly salmon, without really thinking about where it came from. Until, that is, we took a tour of a salmon farm while on an Alaskan cruise a couple of years ago. She was utterly horrified and in tears thinking she had been being a hypocrite for so many years. Totally unintentional, she had just never realized that salmon could be farmed and always thought all salmon was caught by boats in the middle of the ocean.
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Old 07-09-2008, 01:48 PM   #47
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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.
Yeah, can't you just pick out the chicken? Well can I pick out their juice? blood? their screams?

I guess I should just say I don't eat animal products, what's in this dish?

But what do I know. I'm wearing leather shoes.
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Old 07-09-2008, 01:58 PM   #48
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Default I am NOT vegitarian...but family assumes I am

I have a slightly different angle on this "lable" issue.

My family calls me a veggie. I am not.

I choose not to eat read meat....99.9% of the time. In the summer once or twice I wll make a steak on the grill. In the winter beef stew or a pork roast might be on the menu a couple times throughout the season. We have a freezer full of red meat, we live on a farm and raise our own cows and pigs. The family eats them I don't. It is not a moral issue for me, it is more of a health issue.

I am also lactose intolerant. So I drink soy milk. I can tolerate yogurt and cheese in small portions. So they are an occasional part of my diet, in moderation.

My family thinks this makes me a veggie. That is where the issues start.

MIL gets angry because, I "WON'T EAT MEAT". So it is impossible to cook for me (in her words). Ummmm...make chicken. I never show up empty handed and usually make a salad or side with beans or another protien source so even if she made everything else with meat I wouldhave something I was comfortable eating. I also bring my own soy milk I don't expect her to have it on hand for me.

I never expect anyone to go out of thier way in preparing a meal for me. On the same note, if you are guest in my house, you will be served what I choose to cook. That could be a steak on the grill, or it could be meatless chili or tofu stir fry. If I know you are veggie or vegan or have an allergy I will certainly make sure I cook accordingly.
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Old 07-09-2008, 02:24 PM   #49
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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? (
But, again, we could be looking at a lack of understanding on the part of a person who is venturing into a new area for themselves because a particular aspect has caught their attention and hasn't taken the time to completely educate themselves on exactly what the entire concept is about.

Someone may be "going vegetarian" for the health benefits alone or because they think all vegetarians are tiny little things so they can lose weight by following a "vegetarian" diet (but fish is supposed to be good for you so they'll eat that). They aren't intentionally trying to mislead anyone, they just don't know any better and end up perpetuating misconceptions. Simple answer would be if no one would open their mouth without doing an in-depth study on any given subject, but no one, no matter how high or low their IQ, ever thinks they might be misinformed. Sadly, part of being human is having an ego and thinking we know lots of stuff
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Old 07-09-2008, 02:39 PM   #50
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This is such an interesting discussion, particularly as it pertains to who is "in charge" of enforcing personal eating preferences in a service setting. Does that burden fall to the waitstaff, who need to know each ingredient in a dish, or does it fall to the customer who has the preference to clearly express what their own "rules" about eating are? Is it some combination of the two?

This brought up another example for me...I am really, really, REALLY allergic to penicillin. Of the people who are called or call themselves "penicillin allergic", only about 5% are at risk for life threatening reactions to it. So when you go to the doctor and mention that you're "allergic to penicillin", they sometimes still prescribe it or don't look at it as life-threatening, just because for 95% of the people who say that, it really isn't. According to my doc, most people who say they are allergic to penicillin don't have an actual ALLERGY, they just had a bad reaction (nausea or other stomach issues, maybe a rash) at some point and their doctor told them they were allergic, so they've said it ever since. So doctors hear all kinds of versions of "allergic to penicillin", so much so that it has a diluted meaning now, and docs DO prescribe penicillin-family meds (like Amoxicillin) to people who say they are penicillin allergic. I'm not mad at the people who say they are allergic...they're probably using that term because someone called them that, or they don't have another word to express what they are trying to say.

When I go to the doctor, because I fall into that 5% with a "true" penicillin allergy, I have to be supercareful. I tell the receptionist, the doctor, and if anything is prescribed, the pharmacist filling it that I'm allergic to penicillin and will go into anaphylaxis if it is given to me. Even though it should be in my chart, I make them note it every time. When I had knee surgery, I not only told the admit desk, the nurse, the anesthesiologist, and the surgeon, I also wrote "NO PENICILLIN" on my IV arm in ink. Avoiding penicillin was that important to me (because if I don't avoid it, I could die!).

I consider that my burden - I need to avoid penicillin, so I make DARN sure there is no penicillin anywhere near me. If I just said to my doctor "I am allergic to penicillin", I wouldn't expect him to know that I was one of the 5% with a true allergy. It's my responsibility to tell people exactly what I cannot have, and how important that is to me.

I see this as much the same way. If the restriction is important to you, isn't it your job to make SURE that the people around you understand that restriction, rather than assume that the word "Vegetarian" means the same thing to them that it does to you? I mean, the word DOES have a defined meaning, and it'd be ideal if everyone knew what it was, but common-use of the word DOES include some level of flexibility, whether or not that is how it is literally defined. Knowing that, can't you just make sure everyone is aware of what it means for you by stating it explicitly? That'd prevent misunderstandings like you've mentioned, like people suggesting fish dishes in restaurants.

When I meet a new doctor, I say "I am allergic to penicillin. That means any drug in the penicillin family, including amoxicillin, cause me to go into anaphylactic shock. Please write it on my chart". Couldn't you say, "I'm Vegetarian. That means I don't eat any meats or meat based broths, including fish" or "I'm Vegan. That means I don't eat any animal products, including meat or meat based broths, fish, butter, dairy, honey, gelatin, etc". It'd make it easier for you to trust your plate doesn't contain the foods you can't have, AND you'd be informing people about the actual definitions for those words.
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Old 07-09-2008, 02:46 PM   #51
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This is such an interesting thread. To me, "vegetarian" means "does not eat meat, but might eat eggs/dairy" and "vegan" means "consumes no animal products". So I think that is pretty straightforward. I look at it as a philosophy and a way of life.

That being said, I have had pregnant ladies who are/were vegetarian, but craved and ate meat and fish during pregnancies. I wonder if that cancels out their ability to call themselves vegetarians? If so, is it just the duration of the meat-eating time? Can they be "reborn" vegetarians if they resume the lifestyle after birth?

I was a vegetarian for a short time, but I am no longer one, so I am not sure I can comment, as the terms do not make me as passionate one way or the other. I would suspect that most vegetarians and vegans are very careful about what and where they eat. I know of some who will not use the same pans that other family members use to cook meat. So I suppose that the general principle is "consumes no meat" but that the details and/or extremes may vary depending on the individual.

It could be a bit like the term "natural childbirth." I know ladies who interchange "natural childbirth" for "vaginal childbirth" and would call epidural/vacuum/episiotomy a "natural birth" whereas another woman might believe the only birth that can be considered "natural" is an unattended homebirth.

I wonder if the person who refuses to cook with the same pans that touch meat would consider another person who does share pans, but doesn't eat meat....not a vegetarian?

I think vegetarianism and veganism is an "either/or", ya do or ya don't eat meat. But if I've learned nothing else in my life, it is that there are a zillion gray lines that other people might experience.
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Old 07-09-2008, 02:53 PM   #52
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Couldn't you say, "I'm Vegetarian. That means I don't eat any meats or meat based broths, including fish" or "I'm Vegan. That means I don't eat any animal products, including meat or meat based broths, fish, butter, dairy, honey, gelatin, etc". It'd make it easier for you to trust your plate doesn't contain the foods you can't have, AND you'd be informing people about the actual definitions for those words.
Couldn't I? It's more like "I constantly HAVE had to", both me and countless other veg*ns. I'm all for a "teachable moment", but it's frustrating to deal with so much misinformation and to have to constantly inform.

I *do* think we all need to be responsible for getting our own needs met, obviously. However, when I go to a professional establishment whose job is to provide a quality dining and service experience, it would be nice if they took interest in educating themselves about how to be sensitive to their customers needs.

Thankfully for me, it's not as "life threatening" as for you and your allergy! For shame, you'd think DOCTORS and other health professionals wouldn't be so asinine!
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Old 07-09-2008, 03:00 PM   #53
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I see this as much the same way. If the restriction is important to you, isn't it your job to make SURE that the people around you understand that restriction, rather than assume that the word "Vegetarian" means the same thing to them that it does to you? I mean, the word DOES have a defined meaning, and it'd be ideal if everyone knew what it was, but common-use of the word DOES include some level of flexibility, whether or not that is how it is literally defined. Knowing that, can't you just make sure everyone is aware of what it means for you by stating it explicitly? That'd prevent misunderstandings like you've mentioned, like people suggesting fish dishes in restaurants.

First I'm one of those that was told I was allergic to penicillin since I was a child. I have no idea if I really am or if I just got a rash when I was a kid!

In theory I agree with you but there is a big problem with applying this. There are bazillions of ingredients most would never consider to be animal derived. I've had people be shocked that whey was! Some don't know what caesin is (nor did I do be honest before I began my research). Gelatin is another common but not known animal product. The list is very lengthy and no I don't really think the waitress is going to go ask the chef about everything on my what I won't eat list. Now what I consider to be a very simple solution is to use the definition as Vegans intend - no animal or animal dervied products, byproducts, etc. and lable food accordingly even in restaurants. There are vegan seals approved by various vegan/vegetarian orginizations that appear on many food labels. There is a standard behind these labels that could be applied to all foods!
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Old 07-09-2008, 03:01 PM   #54
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I do think some of the issues arrise are due to people just not understanding...or even not realizing what all is included in each group.

When I was 12 I spent 2 1/2 months with my aunt and uncle who were lacto-ovo veggitarians. I ate what they ate, they did not buy meat for the omni niece. My aunt explained the differences in lacto, lacto-ovo, ovo and strict vegitarians. She explained some veggies even ate fish, though they are not "true vegitarians". I considered myself pretty weel educated in the field of vegitarianism for a 12 year old growing up in farm country.

Now recently the term vegan is being used. I understood it as meaning not comsuming or using any animal products. No meat, fish, chicken, dairy, eggs, leather, products tested on animals etc. Seemed pretty straight forward.

Then I read this post. I learned a little something.

Maybe I just wasn't thinking of the "root source" of these items, BUT....I never would have thought about honey as being off limits for a vegan. Why

#1 Bees make honey, it is not squeezed out of bees, or it does not come from bees the same way a steak comes from cows. The bee did not give up it's life to make honey.

#2 Bees are insects....I don't think of insects as "animals". Although I will from now on.

The other thing that I hadn't consideed an animal product is gelatin. I guess I never took the time to think of where it comes from....although I do know. So now that I have thought of that....I probably won't eat gelatin anymore...not that I ate that much of it before.

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Old 07-09-2008, 03:05 PM   #55
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The thing is though, it really isn't the doctor's fault. Unfortuately for me, the popular meaning of "penicillin allergy" has shifted from a true allergic reaction to something that covers considerably more variable conditions. While it isn't technically correct to call getting nauseous from penicillin an "allergy", language is fluid and constantly shifting, and the term "penicillin allergy" now means something different to most people than it does to me, even though my definition is the technically correct one. So I modify it so my meaning is clear...I figure that, because I'm in the minority on usage of the word, I should probably clarify it, even though I'm using it in a technically correct way. I can't say I've ever been bothered by it (though my interactions with the medical community are no doubt less frequent than a vegetarian or vegan's interactions with people providing them food, so who knows, I might end up irritated after a while).

Most younger/recently trained docs now, though, have added to their charting procedure asking what a person means by "allergic", which simplifies things - they say "what happens when you take penicillin?" and then take note of the genuine medical allergies. I don't count on it, though!
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Old 07-09-2008, 03:10 PM   #56
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FatChickBeGone - that'd be a great idea. It'd be like labeling things "Kosher". A certification process would ensure a good, specific definition and some sort of enforcement.

I think a lot of people know about as much about Veganism as I know about the Kosher dietary laws. I know a little, some popular knowledge (the Veganism equivalent of "they don't eat any animal products"), but not the specifics or more esoteric rules (the Veganism equivalents of honey and gelatin). Those things DEFINITELY aren't common knowledge for most people.

So a seal would be awesome. Hard to see who'd fund it, though, except restaurants that get the majority of their patronage from Vegetarian/Vegan customers...and they are the ones that most likely know and understand the correct usage without the certification.
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Old 07-09-2008, 03:22 PM   #57
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.The other thing that I hadn't consideed an animal product is gelatin. I guess I never took the time to think of where it comes from....although I do know. So now that I have thought of that....I probably won't eat gelatin anymore...not that I ate that much of it before.

We learn something new everyday.
You might also want to watch out for meds and supplements that come in capsule rather than pill form. A lot (most?) of the capsules are actually made from beef gelatin.......
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Old 07-09-2008, 03:33 PM   #58
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This is a neat discussion. I have an off the wall thought. I don't eat a lot of meat. I mainly stick to chicken/fish. I rarely eat red meat, maybe 1 or 2 times a year. When my veggie/vegan friends come over, I work hard to make sure they have a meal they can eat.
However, I have one vegan friend who, in essence, is a snob. Don't misundertand, I think veganism is a great, healthful way of life. But this person goes out with us and makes fun of, or insults, or lectures us and the people around us on the evils of meat. When she sees us eating meat, she even makes little screams (pretending she's the meat/shrimp/chicken, etc) when we take bites. It's irritating to be condescended to, and we've never bugged her about her decision. It's her life, her choice, just like eating animal products is ours. Any tips on what to say to her when she gets like this?
And let me state for the record, I have nothing against veganism. I just find it irritating when she actively tries to convert others when they already know about their options. I don't think she realizes that not everyone can or wants to be a vegan. I have a digestive disorder that truly limits my diet, and if I tried to get all my protein and minerals from beans/veggies I'd never get away from the toilet (sorry about the TMI)
Any thoughts? I'd like to find a gentle way to tell her to mind her own business, but not insult her choice.
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Old 07-09-2008, 03:35 PM   #59
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This is a neat discussion. I have an off the wall thought. I don't eat a lot of meat. I mainly stick to chicken/fish. I rarely eat red meat, maybe 1 or 2 times a year. When my veggie/vegan friends come over, I work hard to make sure they have a meal they can eat.
However, I have one vegan friend who, in essence, is a snob. Don't misundertand, I think veganism is a great, healthful way of life. But this person goes out with us and makes fun of, or insults, or lectures us and the people around us on the evils of meat. When she sees us eating meat, she even makes little screams (pretending she's the meat/shrimp/chicken, etc) when we take bites. It's irritating to be condescended to, and we've never bugged her about her decision. It's her life, her choice, just like eating animal products is ours. Any tips on what to say to her when she gets like this?
And let me state for the record, I have nothing against veganism. I just find it irritating when she actively tries to convert others when they already know about their options. I don't think she realizes that not everyone can or wants to be a vegan. I have a digestive disorder that truly limits my diet, and if I tried to get all my protein and minerals from beans/veggies I'd never get away from the toilet (sorry about the TMI)
Any thoughts? I'd like to find a gentle way to tell her to mind her own business, but not insult her choice.
I'd say just don't eat with this person. She sounds immature and perhaps well-meaning but her approach is distasteful any way you package it.
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Old 07-09-2008, 04:11 PM   #60
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Often a word is used and defined by different groups of people. It was years before I learned that "ignorant" could mean unaware rather than "intentionally rude."

Now some would say that using the word "ignorant" to mean "intentionally rude" is an improper and incorrect use of the word. Others would say it's a regional difference as to the accepted meaning of the word.

Regional differences do play a role in the meaning of words, because the need to understand the distinctions, where to make the distinctions, and even the need for the distinction, is related to the chance of encountering situations in which it is important. I don't know much about kosher dietary laws, because I haven't needed to.

I find it surprising (as a result of my stereotype of California, of course), that anyone in Californina would need to explain veg*nism. However, I find it very understandable in Wisconsin. Moving to northcentral WI from central IL, I didn't expect culture shock (I mean it's still the Midwest, right). But I have, especially concerning the importance of hunting in the daily lives of average people. While not specifically anti-hunting, I was completely astonished to live in a community where so many people, doctors to housewives talked about making accomodations into their schedule to allow for hunting, not only as a common leisure activity, but as a civic responsibility. I learned that when deer herds become overpopulated, they can face starvation and disease, and the DNR (department of natural resources) determines that special accomodations need to be made to manage the herds. Not only will dedicated hunters, but even people who ordinarily don't hunt, will "help out," in these circumstances to keep the deer population healthy.

You could have told me I was in "OZ" when I learned this. "Helping the deer," by killing them... it was completely foreign to me when I moved here. But people here take "management" and "stewardship" of wildlife very seriously here, not only to maintain their traditional lifestyle, but out of a respect for nature that I'm just starting to understand.

Last year there was a problem with someone intentionally crippling birds of prey. It was the hunters in the community that were most vocal about the violent things that should be done to the person when they were caught. (And I might actually feel a little sorry for the person responsible, if they are caught in the act by a group of hunters).

Yeah, I'm getting off topic again, sorry!
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