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

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  • Veg*n means "vegan" and "vegetarian", for those who aren't familiar with the term.

    So, here is what I am pondering...

    If I had a dime for every time someone said "I am vegetarian but I eat *" (insert non-vegetarian item here, such as fish and sea creatures, gelatin, poultry etc.) or "I am vegan but I eat *" (insert non vegan item here, such as honey, eggs, dairy etc.) I would be VERY wealthy indeed!

    What are some of the reasons you think people say these things, when the definitions for these terms are readily available?

    The terms "vegan and "vegetarian" have these standard definitions:

    Vegan:

    A person who abstains from eating and using all animal products (eggs, cheese, honey, gelatin, leather etc.).

    Vegetarian:

    A person who does not eat any animals (fish, fowl, bovine, gelatin etc.).
  • they should really just say... "my diet is mostly vegan/vegetarian"
    or maybe those things they eat that don't adhere to the meaning of the diet are eaten on occasion instead of daily.

    They probably say it as an ideal, but can live up to it.
  • Their desire to be thought of as a certain type of person is stronger than their desire to actually BE that type of person.
  • Merriam Webster doesn't include not wearing leather or animal products in the primary definition of vegan, so that distinction is, I think, a bit fuzzy.

    As for the other distinctions, I think its less trying to be something that you're not than not having adequate words to describe what you are. The words "Vegetarian" and "Vegan" aren't merit badges, earned by those who follow them exactly. They are descriptions of eating plans that are sometimes, though not necessarily, associated with certain philosophies.

    For lack of a better descriptor, people go to familiar words, then modify those words, with their commonly understood meanings, to fit what they are trying to convey. Someone who says "I'm a vegetarian, except I eat fish" is making clear what they eat - no meat, except fish. Saying "I'm an omnivore" wouldn't convey the same meaning.
  • Quote: Their desire to be thought of as a certain type of person is stronger than their desire to actually BE that type of person.
    Why would anyone care if they were "thought of" as that way or not? If they cared about that, then they wouldn't add the "...but I eat..." part.
  • I have no clue why but it annoys me to no end. I'm shocked by the Miriam Webster definition as there is no fuzziness in the vegan community as to what vegan is. You DO NOT use animals or their products in anyway. However there is confusion if you've not been introduced to it. I get the "but you eat fish right?" enough times a day to make me want to carry the definiton of animal around in my pocket.
    However if you know enough to be mostly vegetarian or vegan then you know what you need to do to be one. I really think some believe it gives you superpowers and strive to be one or the other but don't go the extra tiny steps it takes to actually be what they strive to be.
  • Well, in honesty I'd hazard a guess that different people have different reasons for saying "I'm a vegetarian/vegan except I eat..." - I mean, it may well be a case of wanting to sound caring/sharing/environmentally friendly whilst being reluctant to give up all animal products, for some people.

    But I think for a lot of people, it's simply the quickest way of describing the food they eat. ****, if given a choice I sometimes tick 'vegetarian' on menus for things, simply because I love ALL vegetables, but with meat I can be a bit funny. Sometimes I can enjoy it, and sometimes I am acutely conscious that it's a corpse and it makes me want to hurl.

    I certainly wouldn't describe myself as a vegetarian, but my mum and my sister have at times used various phrases like 'neo-vegetarian' or 'semi-vegetarian' or other clumsy madeup things to explain to meat-eating people what they eat. (what they mostly eat, for preference, being veggies, fish, dairy and poultry.) It's an easy shorthand if someone has to worry about feeding you - rather than giving them a list of all the things you will or won't eat, you can go with 'vegetarian! But I'll eat chicken or fish.'

    I can understand how this could be irritating to people who ARE vegan or vegetarian, especially since it has an impact upon strangers' expectations of what they will be happy to eat. And because it's so often a moral choice, and from that POV somebody appearing to allign themselves with your dietary habits and then saying 'Oh, but I'll eat fish' is missing the point of what vegetarianism means to you. But to them it's being used as a shorthand, I think. If one is NOT part of a larger vegan or vegetarian community, but chooses to eschew some meat products for whatever reason, it's a little difficult to explain one's picky eating gracefully, and this is a quick way of explaining what you DO eat, rather than what you don't eat.
  • Fay that was well-said. It doesn't annoy be because hey if people are cutting back on meat/dairy/eggs it's better then nothing BUT it does create so much confusion when going out to eat/others homes/etc.
  • I really like and appreciate Amanda's response

    I pick up and read every package carefully to make sure it doesn't contain any form of animal product. I quiz restaurant staff when placing my orders. I lecture friends and family on the brutalities of the industrialized meat industry, as well as how it greatly contributes to global warming. I've reached a point where I physically gag when I smell meat cooking and have to mentally prepare myself before going family dinners or some restaurants.

    But I will never, ever be able to say that I am a vegetarian. I take fish oil capsules. I've weighed the pros and cons of plant based vs fish based omega oils and how our bodies utilize them, and I have made the decision that for my current health and heart condition, I need fish oil. Period. So there you go, I'm not a vegetarian and I guess I never will be.

  • I think it makes life difficult for vegetarians when those that aren't vegetarian say they are. I have heard it from many people where they say "I know vegetarians who eat [fish, poultry, other meat products]". So those who don't eat any meat products have to be very explicit because of people who call themselves vegetarians but aren't.

    I do consider myself vegetarian at this point but I have never said that to anyone. I tell people I don't eat meat products or dairy or eggs. My ideal is to follow a vegan diet but I do admit that there have been some slips here and there with products that have small amounts of dairy in them.

    Oh forgot to add that I would prefer if selective meat eaters would say something like "The only meat I eat is..." or something but I think the disambiguity has been started and will remain with us. Of course 20 years ago or so, the definition of vegetarian was someone who didn't eat animal products but it got changed to mean someone who may eat eggs or dairy and now it is changing again to mean any number of things due to those that use it.
  • You know, I should have kept my original post the way I really wanted it. I edited it because I wanted to be very gentle with my words.

    More often then not, people don't come right out and say "I am veg*n but I eat *", they say they are veg*n then they just eat things that aren't veg*n.

    Quote: Merriam Webster doesn't include not wearing leather or animal products in the primary definition of vegan, so that distinction is, I think, a bit fuzzy.
    I included the source for the word "vegan" in my original post and then I edited it. I guess I should have left it!

    The term "vegan" was coned by Donald Watson in 1944. The term described a lifestyle *and* a philosophy of "least harm". This was when the first British vegan society was formed.

    The American Vegan Society was founded in 1960, publishing "Ahimsa" which is a Sanskrit word that means "not causing harm" and "reverence for life."
  • Quote: I think it makes life difficult for vegetarians when those that aren't vegetarian say they are. I have heard it from many people where they say "I know vegetarians who eat [fish, poultry, other meat products]". So those who don't eat any meat products have to be very explicit because of people who call themselves vegetarians but aren't.
    Yes, this is true.

    Mini rant: Fish is "meat", it is flesh! It's not in the plant kingdom!!! I don't understand why people don't accept that simple scientific fact.

    Quote: I do consider myself vegetarian at this point but I have never said that to anyone. I tell people I don't eat meat products or dairy or eggs. My ideal is to follow a vegan diet but I do admit that there have been some slips here and there with products that have small amounts of dairy in them.
    An accidental ingestion happens to everyone who doesn't prepare each and every thing they eat. I am curious as to why you wouldn't call yourself vegetarian (or, more accurately, vegan) if that truly reflects your lifestyle and dietary choices.

    I know some people don't want to be associated with a "movement" OR any "controversy", so they don't use labels.

    Quote: Oh forgot to add that I would prefer if selective meat eaters would say something like "The only meat I eat is..." or something but I think the disambiguity has been started and will remain with us.
    Hey, I use the term "selective omnivores" too!
  • Quote: Why would anyone care if they were "thought of" as that way or not? If they cared about that, then they wouldn't add the "...but I eat..." part.
    Yeah, people don't often word it that way, really. It's actually easier to deal with when they term it that way, because there's a "qualifier"!

    It's usually more like: "I'm veg*n." Then you notice they eat KFC or Red Lobster animals and products etc.
  • Quote: I can understand how this could be irritating to people who ARE vegan or vegetarian, especially since it has an impact upon strangers' expectations of what they will be happy to eat. And because it's so often a moral choice, and from that POV somebody appearing to allign themselves with your dietary habits and then saying 'Oh, but I'll eat fish' is missing the point of what vegetarianism means to you. But to them it's being used as a shorthand, I think. If one is NOT part of a larger vegan or vegetarian community, but chooses to eschew some meat products for whatever reason, it's a little difficult to explain one's picky eating gracefully, and this is a quick way of explaining what you DO eat, rather than what you don't eat.
    This sums up a couple of issues and perspectives in relation to this topic VERY well.
  • Quote: I have no clue why but it annoys me to no end. I'm shocked by the Miriam Webster definition as there is no fuzziness in the vegan community as to what vegan is. You DO NOT use animals or their products in anyway. However there is confusion if you've not been introduced to it. I get the "but you eat fish right?" enough times a day to make me want to carry the definiton of animal around in my pocket.
    However if you know enough to be mostly vegetarian or vegan then you know what you need to do to be one. I really think some believe it gives you superpowers and strive to be one or the other but don't go the extra tiny steps it takes to actually be what they strive to be.
    Yes!!! Fabulous post!!! I relate!