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If you're vegan,
June 20, 2002 10:34 AM   Subscribe

If you're vegan, this link is what you need to figure out what the hell is really in your food. If you're not vegan, you might find it interesting as well. If you're a total metavore, no, we can't eat our clones yet... bummer.
posted by jcterminal (65 comments total)

 
Is this the 10 minute argument or the 5 minute?

I think we know where this might go...

Please can we keep this thread for those with respect, facts, humour, empathy, open-mindedness and an ability to discuss without the ad-hominem attacks seen on previous similar threads (and recent ones, too)?

Otherwise, it just gets too Monty Python for me...
posted by dash_slot- at 10:40 AM on June 20, 2002


jeez! I am eating salads with balsamic vinegar ONLY from now on... okay not really.

I can see veganism as a healthy way of eating... I am pretty much vegetarian as it is (although I cannot resist sushi) but to worry to this extent would require HOURS of label reading at the grocers.

good post btw - most informative for a gal like me that DOES try to eat healthy
posted by gloege at 10:42 AM on June 20, 2002


Great link! I had no idea about many of these additives. After some initial careful label reading and shopping, it should be pretty straightforward to avoid these things.
posted by Red58 at 10:44 AM on June 20, 2002


I think linking to PETA automatically disqualifies you from asking for "open mindedness."

But I'll stay out of the discussion and quietly sit here and eat my fois gras-stuffed veal and spotted owl kabobs.
posted by bondcliff at 10:44 AM on June 20, 2002


"Bee Products.
Produced by bees for their own use. Bees are selectively bred. Culled bees are killed. A cheap sugar is substituted for their stolen honey. Millions die as a result. Their legs are often torn off by pollen-collection trapdoors.


Is this really a concern for vegans? I understand, though don't agree with, people who don't want to eat beef, chicken, or fish. But bee products?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:51 AM on June 20, 2002


Don't oppress the plants! Carrots have rights too!
posted by dagny at 10:54 AM on June 20, 2002


Check here regarding what Vegan.org has to say about honey as well as other typical questions...
posted by gloege at 10:54 AM on June 20, 2002


Bondcliffe (et al), it is possible for biased or partial sources to speak the truth. In fact, I always assume that a speaker has an axe to grind, and attempt to discover that axe whilst assessing the veracity, accuracy and relevance of their views. That doesn't mean that I will dismiss all of what a PETA supporter or McDonalds patron tells me: it's called an open mind.
We can occasionally be surprised where the truth comes from. Actually, if not, what do you think I listen to you for?
posted by dash_slot- at 10:55 AM on June 20, 2002


Sorry, I can't talk now. I'm too busy yanking the legs off bees.
posted by bondcliff at 10:56 AM on June 20, 2002


This list amply demonstrates, as gloege noted above, that veganism is a very difficult lifestyle to follow. Not only does it require a significant amount of both discipline and label reading, but a number of the products listed at the PETA site came come from either animal or plant sources. Even if you know the ingredients in the food you're eating, you don't necessarily know how it got there.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:56 AM on June 20, 2002


Darn typos, must be all the beef in my diet.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:57 AM on June 20, 2002


If someone kept eating their own waste, and only ate their own waste, how long do you thing it would take for them to:

a) run out of waste
b) die
c) become physically unable to lift their own waste, and then die

That's puzzled me for a long, long time.
posted by fluxcreative at 10:58 AM on June 20, 2002


ah yes, the inevitable..." heh heh...i eat meat so fuck you!' comment.

great.

Gleoge:
anyway, yea, the list is pretty hectic. Which is why a lot of vegans i know also end up going doen the path of only buying from known, trusted manufacturers, and local farmers. But that takes a shitload of dedication.

what makes it easier are teh vegan resturants in town. oh man...it rocks.


and on the peta-hating tip:
don't worry...a lot of vegans hate them too. begin troll...

Kind of the way intelligent, moderate republicans hate "W" and co>

...end troll
posted by das_2099 at 10:59 AM on June 20, 2002


Ambergris as a flavouring agent? I'm skeptical.

IMO, moderation is the key to success. The extremes are always unhealthy -- witness the Breatharians. Trick is figuring out what "moderate" is.

Crash: Makes one think "Carrot Products. Produced by carrots for their own use..."

One is reminded of the Arrogant Worms' "Carrot Juice is Murder."


Listen up brothers and sisters
Come hear my desperate tale
I speak of our friends of nature
Trapped in the dirt like a jail

Vegetables live in oppression
Served on our tables each night
This killing of veggies is madness
I say we take up the fight

Salads are only for murderers
Coleslaw's a fascist regime
Don't think that they don't have feelings
Just 'cause a radish can't scream

I've heard the screams of the vegetables
(scream, scream, scream)
Watching their skins being peeled
(having their insides revealed)
Grated and steamed with no mercy
(burning off calories)
How do you think that feels
(that it hurts real bad)
Carrot juice constitutes murder
(and that's a real mumble)
Greenhouses prisons for slaves
(let my vegetables go)
It's time to stop all this gardeing
(it's dirty as well)
Let's call a spade a spade
(is a spade is a spade is a spade)

. . .

posted by five fresh fish at 11:02 AM on June 20, 2002


even if insects were conscious of pain, it's not clear that the production of honey involves any more pain for insects than the production of most vegetables, since the harvesting and transportation of all vegetables involves many 'collateral' insect deaths.

Er, it's clear that the production of milk and eggs involves pain? For that matter, what about animal slaughter that's painless -- would that make meat okay? Do clams scream?
posted by five fresh fish at 11:05 AM on June 20, 2002


Thanks, gloege. That clears it up quite a bit. I'm still astonished, though.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:05 AM on June 20, 2002


das_2099: that is actually what I do... I was being dramatic to point out the extremity of the list.

I love the natural whole foods store here and like the sections in the frozen foods and on the shelves that are marked vegetarian, different types of kosher and vegan. Otherwise I might throw my hands up and scream forget it...

But then I eat the way I do to be healthy and not for moral reasons... so in some ways I guess it is easier for me since I ride the fence.
posted by gloege at 11:05 AM on June 20, 2002


Ambergris as a flavouring agent? I'm skeptical.

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Pretty revolting. These guys say it's not used as a flavoring nowadays.
posted by nikzhowz at 11:07 AM on June 20, 2002



I am pretty much vegetarian as it is (although I cannot resist sushi) but to worry to this extent would require HOURS of label reading at the grocers.


you'd be surprised. i was, for a good three or four years, a fairly strict vegan (now, two or three years later, after a trip to europe, and various slippery slopes, a fish-aterian.). after you figure out which products you can eat, and which you can't, it goes pretty fast -- basically you just read the labels of stuff you're unfamiliar with (a habit of mine that persists to this day).

you can really be a strict vegan as far as diet really easily; what's more of a pain is finding shoes and belts.

either way, the problem with veganism (to me) is that sometimes it's practitioners insist on proselytizing or haranguing meat-eating folks (which is kinda pointless)and often insist on some impossibly perfect lifestyle that will prevent a negative effect on anything. which, uh, basically means that the only good vegan is a dead vegan.
(still, i think living gently is an admirable goal, it's just that there's a few vegans who tend to go overboard and try to make it a competition. obligatory simpsons quote: "i'm a level five vegan: i don't eat anything that casts a shadow.")

still, the bulk of people who are vegan (and all vegans that i've met) tend to keep their opinions about it to themselves (it all really comes down to a personal choice), and don't lecture others about what they should be doing. oddly enough, i've found it's more likely that meat eaters will actually get offended by *my* eating habits: "why the fuck don't you eat meat? i mean, really?" (actual quote). of course, maybe i just have asshole friends.

(on preview: honey is a big wavering point among vegans: some eat it, some don't -- the basic rationale is "it's an animal product, and vegans do not eat animal products". again, problem is, people want to be competitive, and say, "well, *i* don't eat honey, and you do, so you're not a vegan." it's similar to "well, Band X isn't punk rock, and so if you listen to Band X, you're not punk rock." yes, lame, i agree, but keep in mind that, typically, this is merely a unfortunately vocal subset of vegans.)
posted by fishfucker at 11:17 AM on June 20, 2002


The humor quotient of a vegan with the name "fishfucker" is so delicious that I almost can't handle it. :)
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:21 AM on June 20, 2002


Today's slaughterhouses must dispose of the byproducts of the slaughter of billions of animals every year and have found an easy and profitable solution in selling them to food and cosmetics manufacturers.

Clearly the recycling industry is to blame.
posted by apostasy at 11:24 AM on June 20, 2002


I'm a vegan who doesn't eat honey but does take animal-derived medications (mostly corticosteroids). it does take dedication (and sometimes a lot of willpower, even after five years), but just like anything that becomes a big part of your life you get used to it, the same way any other routine does.

to answer your question about pain, fff, if it were just a question of animal cruelty, then it might make a difference if it were truly possible to raise and kill an animal without causing it unreasonable pain. but for many vegans (including me) it's about more than just gentleness towards animals. it's also about gentleness towards the environment and the earth as a whole. I recognize that my existence is going to cause damage and destruction no matter what (though I'd like to think that I can make up for that in some sense with some sort of contribution to society, or even just to other peoples' lives), but I want to minimize that damage as much as possible. veganism is one way to do that.

(is anyone else going to be at the earthsave festival in new york this weekend?)
posted by rabi at 11:33 AM on June 20, 2002


I think that the 95/5 rule applies just as much to choosing food as it does to writting or software design. (For those who don't know the 95/5 rule is that 95 percent of your time is spent seeking out the last 5% of the bugs, goofs and errors.) Personally, I am not a vegan largely because I don't have a problem with ethical dairy production, but also because I think that all of our choices entails some form of harm. Realistically, I don't worry that much about the 1 to 5 percent of the animal products that get into my food.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:33 AM on June 20, 2002


I scan labels with detail and am interested in this list -- not because I am a vegan but because I like to support the production of quality food and traditional means of production. (Just a quirk of mine.)

I met someone recently who was a vegan but ate Twizzlers whenever we went to the movies and he loved Dr Pepper. I checked the label one day and indeed, if I recall correctly, Twizzlers have artificial, not natural flavoring.

This likely means then that Twizzlers are flavored with a pertroleum derivitive. Don't get me wrong, I like the occasional Twizzler. What the hell was my point?
posted by Dick Paris at 11:40 AM on June 20, 2002


FF: the problem with veganism (to me) is that sometimes it's practitioners insist on proselytizing or haranguing meat-eating folks (which is kinda pointless)...

weird. that's exactly my problem with flesh eaters. i've been vegetarian for 12 years. i could give a rat's ass what anyone else puts in their mouth. that's their business and i never take them to task for it. the flesh eater that returns that respect is few and far between. i'd guess that maybe 8 out of 10 flesh eaters i've dined with have at one time or another made a crack similar to some of those above (bondcliff's attempts at humour, for instance).
posted by dobbs at 11:41 AM on June 20, 2002


fishfucker: i think they have some belts for you here.
posted by lescour at 11:49 AM on June 20, 2002


Do clams scream?

Do you still hear the screaming of the clams, Clarice?
posted by Ty Webb at 11:52 AM on June 20, 2002


lescour: excellent link. thank you.
posted by dobbs at 11:55 AM on June 20, 2002


I see veganism as a moral position, rather than strictly dietary. Basic biology tends to show that humans are built for eating meat and plant matter, and nature tends to show that the way to get meat is to kill something. It seems to me that much of the concern comes from an idea of cruelty to animals rather than the specific fact that there's an animal involved, or at least that's the impression I get from discussions with vegans I've known. So with that background info...

Coupla questions for the vegans: Rabi seemed to be heading in this direction. What is the position on say, raising a cow/goat or two and using their milk? Or the same with bees, never taking huge amounts of the honey, but enough for your own use. As a slightly further stretch, what about leather made from the hide of an animal which died of natural causes?
We won't continue that into food. A cow that died on its own would either be old and make bad meat, or have been sick.
But, what about hunting for your own meat?

Since veganism has become(in my opinion, incorrectly) so focused on the food, has some other term come up for people who would agree with my questions? I haven't seen it yet.
posted by Su at 12:10 PM on June 20, 2002


it is possible for biased or partial sources to speak the truth

Well, yes, but you have to check it out with an unbiased source to make sure it is the truth, so why not just start with the unbiased source in the first place?
posted by kindall at 12:21 PM on June 20, 2002


Su: I think that one of the issues out there is that there are a variety of different vegetarian positions of which veganism appears to be the primarily the most outspoken one. The veganism starts with animal rights as its primary focus and extends from there. Mary Francis Lappe's Diet for a Small Planet uses a primarily economic and environmental argument which argues that the commercial beef, poultry, and swine industries are structured to create an artificial demand for meat products which in turn creates an artificial demand for intensive agriculture. It is less about refusing to eat meat than making political decisions about what we eat.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:35 PM on June 20, 2002


Kindall: why not just start with the unbiased source in the first place

because there's no such thing as THE unbiased source. We are in the fortunate position in this day and age of benefitting from multiple news sources. Only by critical assessment of more than one source of information can we make informed choices: so, I may read some right wing rags as well as some left wing ones.

Or: could you give me the URL for "the unbiased source"? ;)
posted by dash_slot- at 12:41 PM on June 20, 2002


Interestingly, Im a vegan (10 years now) and tried to click on the link here at work. All the above links were denied access by the Websense filtering software as a "cult".

Glad to know sites advocating kindness to animals are now deemed a cult.

Sigh.
posted by Dantien at 1:24 PM on June 20, 2002


The Cult of the Alive and Well-Treated Cow?
posted by bondcliff at 1:30 PM on June 20, 2002


Why does Peta only have pictures of cute animals on their website?

Why don't they ever show pictures of animals that aren't cute, like the kind that are killed all the time by farming?
posted by insomnyuk at 1:42 PM on June 20, 2002


dobbs: Your comment concerning proselytizing meat eaters is spot on. And I'm a meater...just not an obnoxious meat eater.

Crash: My brother wont eat honey because of his wacky buddhist beliefs. For him, the knowledge that honey involves the death of a living creature is important.
posted by Doug at 1:50 PM on June 20, 2002


That's right, I'm a meater. Somehow I managed to mumble while typing.
posted by Doug at 1:51 PM on June 20, 2002


I think that the important thing to take away from this article is the knowledge. What you do with that knowledge is up to you. When I learned about the dairy and beef industry and how it manufactures and processes its product, that was enough for me to stop eating those products. It is always important to question the source of any persuasive argument, it is very rare for the writer to not have an agenda, so if you are going to make life decisions based on the information, it's good to get a second, third and fourth opinion.

I think many "vegetarians" wear that title like a badge of honor when really their actions are not very consistent. If you are going to label yourself a vegetarian because of ethical and health reasons but still drink milk and eat cheese, you need to do some more research. Don't fool yourself with "organic" labels, that has much more to do with the food that a cow eats than how the cows are treated or the milk is processed.

When I hear someone call themself a vegetarian, for some reason I get a picture in my head of the person driving down the road in their explorer (for all that urban hiking they do) with a "Free Tibet" sticker on the bumper. Go you activist you!
posted by jonah at 1:51 PM on June 20, 2002


vegetarian literally means one whose diet consists primarily of vegetables and vegetable products.

an ovo-vegetarian is a vegetarian who consumes eggs but does not consume dairy products nor animal flesh.

a lactovegetarian consumes no animal flesh but include dairy products in their diets.

a lacto-ovo-vegetarian consumes no animal flesh but include dairy products & eggs in their diets

a pesco vegetarian includes fish, eggs, and dairy products in their diets. Note - some vegetarians do not include pescos as they consume meat in the form of fish

then there is vegan where they neither consume, use or wear animal products of ANY nature

thereby jonah your statement: "If you are going to label yourself a vegetarian because of ethical and health reasons but still drink milk and eat cheese, you need to do some more research." is sadly lacking. Perhaps it is YOU who needs to do more research before smacking down others.
posted by gloege at 2:10 PM on June 20, 2002


Why don't they ever show pictures of animals that aren't cute, like the kind that are killed all the time by farming?

Now this is an interesting meme. What is interesting in all of these stories is that Davis is contrasting a utopian view of beef farming with a realistic view of agriculture:
Davis believes the death toll among all animals could be reduced if ranchers concentrated on raising cattle instead of pigs and chickens and let those cattle revert to foraging in open fields that could be shared with other animals.
In other words Davis is calling for a radically different form of beef farming than what we currently have which is highly dependent on cultivated crops. Even the beef industry admits that 2.6 pounds of cultvated crops are used to bring every 1 pound of beef to market. Microsoft Word doc from beef.org. So one of the goals of economic vegitarianism is to reduce the %22 of cultivated cropland (again, a beef industry figure, vegetarian advocates estimate closer to %50) that is used to grow beef animal feed. It is also worth noting that beef is probably a best-case example (with the exception of independent hunting) because of the high ammount of forrage. The numbers are much worse for most other livestock (with the possible exception of growing your own goats.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:18 PM on June 20, 2002


su -- I used to live on a small, noncommercial farm, and I have friends who still do. I have no moral opposition to animal that are raised and cared for on self-sustaining homesteads (though I'm sure there are plenty of vegans out there who disagree with me). I won't drink milk or eat eggs from any animals at this point, but if I didn't think it would make me feel sick I'd have no problem with, say, eating the eggs laid by a free-ranging pet chicken that I know is living a happy, natural (if domesticated) life. that doesn't strike me as all that different from eating cultivated plants (sure, chickens use more energy since they're further up the food chain, but I definitely don't want to see the world rid of animals!).

I wouldn't buy or wear a leather belt even if I knew it came from a cow who had died naturally and peacefully, because the process of tanning cowhide into leather is pretty nasty and harmful to the environment (and the humans who work in the vicinity).

as for the terminology question -- in spite of what most people see as a relatively hardcore food and lifestyle philosophy, I am sometimes reticent to refer to myself as a vegan precisely because of my need to assess each situation on its own (good grief, my second self link in two days -- here's what I wrote about veganism and medical research last december). but if there's a better word for what I am, I haven't found it yet. sometimes I call myself an environmental vegan. in a food-only context I think it makes more sense to refer to people as strict vegetarians, because vegan implies something more than that.
posted by rabi at 2:20 PM on June 20, 2002


Off topic: Does anybody know where the term "Vegan" comes from?
posted by signal at 2:34 PM on June 20, 2002


signal: first paragraph

short story for non-click-happy: it's a kind of contraction of "vegetarian".
posted by fishfucker at 2:40 PM on June 20, 2002


gloege, I'm more than aware of all of the different labels people create to differentiate themselves from others. Why not create a hundred different types of vegetarians, that way everyone could stick their own proud designation on their chest and point out that they are better/different/superior to others.

What I said was: If you are going to label yourself a vegetarian because of ethical and health reasons ....

My comments were aimed as those types of vegetarians, I guess you could label them "psuedo-etho-healtho-lacto-vegetarians" if you are so inclined. If you are going to take a stand about something, take a stand with your actions. If you are not going to take a stand, don't give yourself some silly title and think you are making a bold statement.
posted by jonah at 2:48 PM on June 20, 2002


thanks fishfucker.

For some reason, I expected something to do with the star Vega
posted by signal at 2:52 PM on June 20, 2002


I think it was from the star, Suzanne Vega
posted by jonah at 2:59 PM on June 20, 2002


jonah, you clearly don't have a clue about vegetarianism / veganism. since the different types of vegetarians (which gloege cited) is generally the first thing mentioned in any article/book on the topic, it's obvious you've done no reading on the subject.

you want to read this book.
posted by dobbs at 3:00 PM on June 20, 2002


Jonah, I didn't see your followup post before my post as I was at Amazon grabbing the link. though i don't agree with your logic, i guess you're welcome to it.
posted by dobbs at 3:01 PM on June 20, 2002


dobbs, you clearly don't have a clue about my opinion. Who said I've never heard of all those labels? Not me. What I'm saying is that when someone comes to me and says all of these things:

A) I'm a vegetarian
B) I'm a vegetarian because of health reasons
C) I'm a vegetarian because of ethical reasons
D) I eat cheese
E) I drink milk

They are being inconsistent. You want to read this book.
posted by jonah at 3:07 PM on June 20, 2002


jonah, i've already read it, thanks.

the differences between your first post and your most recent one are glaring, in my opinion. though it's clear what you're saying, now, i don't think it was previously, particularly when the last paragraph of your initial post reveals a rather dim or short-sighted view of vegetarians. in addition, your need to surround the word vegetarian in quotation marks speaks volumes.

regardless, thanks for making your point more clear.
posted by dobbs at 3:36 PM on June 20, 2002


jonah's argument is still flawed...

say you have someone who ate a high fat, high protein, little complex carb and few vegetables and fruits and they switched to a vegetarian diet while drinking skim milk and eating eggs. they cannot claim they are vegetarian for health reasons????

same example but now this person has absconded all animal flesh due to circumstances (s)he read about in Newsweek about treatment of farm animals going to slaughter. (s)he still drinks skim milk and eats eggs; however, eating meat is now a moral issue as well as a health issue.

how in the hell is THIS inconsistent?

If they said they were VEGAN and ate eggs and drank milk then yes, that is inconsistent. It is perfectly appropriate to be vegetarian, drink milk and eat eggs and have moral and health reasons for your dietary choice.

You make NO SENSE jonah. My advice to you is to read more and judge less. Your soapbox is shaky at best!
posted by gloege at 3:50 PM on June 20, 2002


A) I'm a vegetarian
B) I'm a vegetarian because of health reasons
C) I'm a vegetarian because of ethical reasons
D) I eat cheese
E) I drink milk


There are many different ethical reasons for becoming a vegitarian. Many of these reasons are quite comfortable with some types of dairy and egg farming.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:11 PM on June 20, 2002


My husband became a strict vegetarian for health reasons, and got often annoyed by the militant vegans that took over local vegetarian support groups (he just wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrition right, and got good recipes and good places to shop -- not political action). One particular holier-than-thou member of this group got red-faced when my husband pointed at all the insect bodies in tis man's car grille.

The only way to be a sane vegan, of course, is as KirkJobSluder described - there's almost no way not to cause pain to some other creature in the universe, so you do your best to be gentle to the earth 95% of the time. If one =really= takes veganism to the logical conclusion, you start to see that you can only eat fruit, as that is produced by plants to =specifically= be eaten by animals, but then you'd also be beholden to plant the resulting seeds, as that's also what the plants want you to do. At some point, you've got to decide if the overriding agenda is going to be dictated by one's food or by one's self.
posted by meep at 4:40 PM on June 20, 2002


i am a vegetarian, not because i like animals, but because i really fucking hate vegetables.
posted by jcterminal at 5:23 PM on June 20, 2002


To further elaborate on my point, which is clearly quite inflammatory to some, is that the article linked to in this thread has some great information. What you do to that information is your choice.

My personal opinion is that declaring oneself a vegetarian often carries an air of pretention, a holier than thou attitude. Many times in my experience (yours may vary or be the opposite) is that many of my very vocal vegetarian friends are very judgmental towards meat eaters but have no problem with eating dairy products. My point is that vegetarians should get off of their soapbox and just do what they believe is right and what they are comfortable with.

Doing something like cutting dairy out of your diet is extremely easy (even for non-veggies like myself) and if someone's goal is to eat ethically and healthy, dairy is a good place to start. From Mad Cowboy:

At the largest commercial supermarket in Great Falls, I could hardly believe my eyes. Soy milk and rice milk on the shelves. Soy hot dogs, veggie burgers, tofu, seitan. It’s not hard anymore to be a vegetarian in America. If it can be done in Great Falls, it can be done anywhere
posted by jonah at 5:48 PM on June 20, 2002


I think most beef in Canada would be free-range. I'd be surprised if the same isn't true of the USA. Alberta, BC, Texas, Montana: they all have huge free-range ranching. I don't see how keeping cattle in pens would (a) result in good meat; (b) be worth the cost. ('course, there's the feedlot, where they're fattened up just before they're slaughtered. In my area, the poor cattle are fed pine wood chips -- I can't understand how pine tar can be healthy for any animal.)

A local dairy ranch -- free-range, again -- has installed a very expensive automatic milking system. The cows go out and graze, chew their cud, ponder the deeper mysteries in life, that sort of thing. When they feel like being milked, they wander into the barn and onto the apparatus. The robot cleans their udder and then milks them. Afterward, the cow gets to go back to its studies.

Milk production on this farm is significantly increased: it appears that the cows like to be milked, and are maximizing their milk production all on their own.

Sounds eerily like the Hitchhiker's Guide bovine, which wanted people to eat it.

Someone mentioned the death of bees for honey. I don't think that's correct: I'm quite sure that apiaries don't go killing their bees. The honeycombs are removed without harming the bees. What would be the point of killing the hive several times a season?!
posted by five fresh fish at 6:09 PM on June 20, 2002


I solved all my moral choices (re: animals and vegetables) by only eating humans that have died from natural causes.
posted by Neale at 6:33 PM on June 20, 2002


I think you're making perfect sense, jonah. I don't know why they're giving you such a hard time. Clearly, there many people who call themselves "vegetarians" who eat a wide variety of diets, some well-thought-out, some very poor nutritionally, some adopted for moral reasons, some for health reasons, some more extreme than others, etc. As is certainly their right. And while the word soup of labels might serve some useful function to differentiate between them, to most people the factional infighting is just silly. But then, I hate labels on principle.
posted by rushmc at 7:41 PM on June 20, 2002


A) I'm a vegetarian
B) I'm a vegetarian because of health reasons
C) I'm a vegetarian because of ethical reasons
D) I eat cheese
E) I drink milk

They are being inconsistent.


This is unsupported. You are proceeding from the false assumption that the only ethical reasons available for not eating animals focus on the animals, rather than the people.

That is wrong.
posted by NortonDC at 8:27 PM on June 20, 2002


I am apt to agree with jonah and rushmc. There is an inconsistency in the pseudo-vegetarian labels. If you take Vegetarianism to mean you are an herbivore, as the name implies, and yet you consume food stuffs outside of vegetables, plants and herbs, you are not really a Vegetarian are you? While Vegan is a much more fundamental take on the lifestyle as a whole, consuming any animal product precludes you from considering yourself a Vegetarian.

You can tack all the labels you want to the front of Vegetarian, but that doesn't make you one. If that were the case, then a person whose diet consists of vegtables and the occassional veal chop is allowed in the club. You can say 6 days a week I eat nothing but vegetables, and on Saturdays I eat a hamburger. Does this make you a Vegetarian? No.

As jonah was saying, there is a certain "I'm doing good" feeling that Vegetarians feel for their lifestyle. Whether it be for themselves or for their environment. Expanding Vegetarianism to include subsets of people who don't eat strictly Vegetarian is only a way to allow people to still feel good about what they are doing. You want to eat a healthier diet consisting of mostly vegetables, that's fine. But don't consider yourself a Vegetarian. You want to do your part for the environment by eating more vegetables and no red meat that's fine too, but you're not a Vegetarian. This is not a fundamental viewpoint, but simply what the word implies.
posted by mikhail at 9:46 AM on June 21, 2002


I am apt to agree with jonah and rushmc. There is an inconsistency in the pseudo-vegetarian labels. If you take Vegetarianism to mean you are an herbivore, as the name implies, and yet you consume food stuffs outside of vegetables, plants and herbs, you are not really a Vegetarian are you? While Vegan is a much more fundamental take on the lifestyle as a whole, consuming any animal product precludes you from considering yourself a Vegetarian.

Woah, I'm not aware that suddenly the term had been redefined in the wake of the vegan movement. My OED says: 1 a One who lives wholly or principally upon vegetable foods; a person who on principle abstains from any form of animal food, or at least such as is obtained by the direct destruction of life. (Emphasis added). In fact, the term vegetarian came into vogue in the late 19th century as an alternative to "Pythagoreans" which also focused on the direct destruction of life:
Alas, what wickedness to swallow flesh into our own flesh, to fatten our greedy bodies by cramming in other bodies, to have one living creature fed by the death of another! In the midst of such wealth as earth, the best of mothers, provides, nothing forsooth satisfies you, but to behave like the Cyclopes, inflicting sorry wounds with cruel teeth! You cannot appease the hungry cravings of your wicked, gluttonous stomachs except by destroying some other life. (attributed by Ovid to Pythagoras)
In fact, the entire reason why Vegans choose to develop their own canard was due to the Vegetarian Society's acceptance of lacto-vegetarian and lacto-ovo-vegetarian.
The growth of the vegetarian movement has led to the development of other organisations which, although not part of the Society, are nevertheless directly associated with our work. The Vegan Society, with its aim of excluding all animal products from the diet, goes further than the Vegetarian Society, which accepts the use of eggs and dairy produce. (The Vegetarian Society)

The International Vegetarian Union has a nice page of definitions which also has the following to say about the origins of the term:
The word was derived from the Latin 'vegetus', meaning whole, sound, fresh, lively; (it should not be confused with 'vegetable-arian' - a mythical human whom some imagine subsisting entirely on vegetables but no nuts, fruits, grains etc!)
The entire reason why the term "vegan" was coined by Donald Watson in 1945 was to contrast vegan diets from the 100-year old definition of vegitarian. He wrote:
'Vegetarian' and 'Fruitarian' are already associated with societies that allow the 'fruits' of cows and fowls, therefore.. we must make a new and appropriate word... I have used the title 'The Vegan News'. Should we adopt this, our diet will soon become known as the vegan diet and we should aspire to the rank of vegans. (IVU)

As jonah was saying, there is a certain "I'm doing good" feeling that Vegetarians feel for their lifestyle. Whether it be for themselves or for their environment. Expanding Vegetarianism to include subsets of people who don't eat strictly Vegetarian is only a way to allow people to still feel good about what they are doing. You want to eat a healthier diet consisting of mostly vegetables, that's fine. But don't consider yourself a Vegetarian. You want to do your part for the environment by eating more vegetables and no red meat that's fine too, but you're not a Vegetarian. This is not a fundamental viewpoint, but simply what the word implies.

No, the word implies not eating meat. This is the definition under which the word was first formally used at the inagural meeting of the Vegitaran society in 1847 (September 30th to be precise.)

In addition the primary focus on meat describes the positions of religious vegetarians such as Buddhists (at a local monistary the Tibetan monks slurp down mugs of tea loaded with cream), Quakers, and Jewish vegetarians. Vedic religions treat dairy-products as sacred gifts. "The cow is respected in her own right as one of the seven mothers because she offers her milk as does one's natural mother. " (IVU, previous link)

Now granted, I certainly agree that people who eat fish and chicken are not vegetarian but it is quite clear that the origin of the term and the movement was primarily concerned with animal slaughter rather than the broader approach taken by vegans. In summary, the argument that vegetarianism should be equated with veganism ignores the 105 year history of the term, and the 3,000 year old philosophical basis on which vegetarianism is founded.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:28 PM on June 21, 2002


Hey: you are going over to someone's house, and you don't want to make them uncomfortable when they serve meat. When they invite you over do you say:

a. I don't like to eat meat.
b. I don't eat meat.
c. I am a vegetarian.

The reason that there is a distinction/definition between veganism and vegetarianism is because it means different things. As a host can you serve fettuccini alfredo or not? It's quite simple, Jonah; there is no holier than though pretention. It's a definition, pure and simple. It makes things easier in groups.
posted by goneill at 2:25 PM on June 21, 2002


"Woah, I'm not aware that suddenly the term had been redefined in the wake of the vegan movement."

Prior to the word Vegetarian, the founders of the Vegetarian Society called themselves Pythagoreans, who along with the earliest known non-meat-eaters were what we now call lacto-vegetarian. Once the word Vegetarian was invented, 3 subsets sprang up since the accuracy of the word and its definition were obviously being argued over long before 'the movement'. The original definition was about eating various plant-foods, not eating 'meat, fish or fowl' and a final phrase which read: 'with or without eggs or dairy produce'. Immediately there were the lacto-vegetarians and ovo-lacto-vegetarians as well as 'strict vegetarians' who ate neither eggs nor dairy produce.

No one seems to be clear on why the British added eggs to the whole thing, but yes, you are correct, it was part of the original ideal.

But the word 'Vegetarian' has as much history in the strict sense as it does in the lacto and ovo-lacto sense, and I see no conflict in defining it as such.

"In fact, the entire reason why Vegans choose to develop their own canard was due to the Vegetarian Society's acceptance of lacto-vegetarian and lacto-ovo-vegetarian."

How are you using canard?

Yes, in that the word 'Vegetarian' as it was being used, was arguably misleading, but there were inklings of the philosophy in the early Vegetarian society. As early as 1851 "there was an article in the Vegetarian Society magazine about alternatives to leather for making shoes, and even a report of someone patenting a new material." So there were always people taking it to another level. There is even a distinction between dietary vegans and ethical vegans.

My point was you can't simply say, "I'm a this-vegetarian or that-vegetarian". Pesco-vegetarian really loosens the boot straps, and even the ovo-vegetarian gets me a little, but outside of strict Vegetarian what's the point? Because people like it?

There are studies that show that cow's milk is not all that healthy for humans, the protein from which is difficult if not impossible to digest and damages the human immune system. There goes the health-concious argument. And you quoted and emphasized a key line yourself — obtained by the direct destruction of life. Eating an egg doesn't destroy a life?
posted by mikhail at 3:39 PM on June 21, 2002


Eating an egg doesn't destroy a life?

Er, no. They're unfertilized.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:20 PM on June 21, 2002


What is inaccurate about "Somone who does not eat fish, flesh or fowl?" I would argue that the term is quite accurate. What is a vegetarian? Someone who does not eat meat. A vegetarian may or may not use other animal products such as wool or milk. That has been the definition of the term over the last 150 years and the way the practice has been defined for at least 3000 years.

I'm also not certain how it is misleading except for people who have a political agenda to exclude all animal products. Another way to think about it is to say that vegan is to vetegarian as Baptist is to Christian. One is a sub-set of the other. That doesn't make the superset inaccurate or misleading.

My point was you can't simply say, "I'm a this-vegetarian or that-vegetarian". Pesco-vegetarian really loosens the boot straps, and even the ovo-vegetarian gets me a little, but outside of strict Vegetarian what's the point? Because people like it?

Again, we are talking about two different ethical positions here. (No one takes the Pesco-vegetarian label seriously anyway.) One ethical position focuses on the harms of animal slaughter. For example, Buddhist and Hindu vegetarianism holds that eating meat is wrong, but herding for dairy products and wool is no problem. (Hence the 5 treasures from the cow, milk, ghee, curd, dung and urine.) Contemporary vegan ethics takes the argument one step further and argues that any use of animal products is exploitation of the animal in question.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:07 PM on June 23, 2002


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