Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Oh, hey, I'm a vegetarian... but I eat fish.

This post is bound to make at least one of my friends (and very loyal reader) angry with me. But, I think I have to address it. Fish is not a vegetable. If you eat fish you are not a vegetarian, you are a pescotarian. If you eat chicken, you are a meat-eater (maybe there is a term for this... 'chickenaterian', or 'I don't eat pork or beef'), because chicken is meat. When non-vegetarians call themselves vegetarians it makes vegetarians very angry. There are very good reasons that this induces anger.

The first reason that this makes people angry, and the most important reason, is that non-vegetarians calling themselves vegetarians muddies up the definition of a vegetarian. When vegetarians go out to eat or over to other people's houses, people OFTEN ask if they eat fish or chicken. Now, where do you think this idea comes from? There is a definition of the term "vegetarian". It says, "a person who does not eat or does not believe in eating meat, fish, fowl, or, in some cases, any food derived from animals, as eggs or cheese, but subsists on vegetables, fruits, nuts, grain, etc".

The second reason that this might make someone angry is that they may have had to deal with a lot of flack from friends and family and feel that they have made sacrifices and that the non-vegetarian-caling-themselves-a-vegetarian has not earned the right to this label yet.

And in case you are wondering how I feel about the term "flexitarian", I think it is a load of crap. A flexitarian is just someone who wants to have their cake and eat it too. They are desperate to identify for some reason as a vegetarian. If you "sometimes" eat meat, you are not a vegetarian, you are a meat-eater.

Vegetarians don't eat animals.

From Wikipedia:

"Vegetarianism is the practice of not consuming meat, with or without the use of other animal derivatives, such as dairy products or eggs. Some vegetarians choose to also refrain from wearing clothing involving the death of animals, such as leather, silk and fur. Veganism, sometimes called "strict vegetarianism", excludes all animal products from diet and attire, whether or not this involves the actual death of an animal (dairy, eggs, honey, wool and down feathers). Vegetarians are found in countries across the world with varied motivations including religious, financial, ethical, environmental, and health concerns. Those who eat fish or poultry but no other meat, although not vegetarian, are sometimes known as Pesco/Pollo Vegetarians."

A word about veganism, while I am on the subject; veganism is not really about what you will and won't eat. It is most often about ethics and whether it is ethically ok to cause another being harm at the expense of another. Vegans (usually) believe that it is not ok to cause suffering to another sentient being. It is not ok to eat things just because they taste good. It is not ok to treat any living being as property. I said "usually" above because some people are vegan purely for health reasons.

I didn't want to come off as the vegan purist overlord here (or make my friends mad at me), but I did want to clarify the distinct and well defined definitions of these things and encourage others to use the terms properly.


  1. Heh, just saw this. Not sure if you meant me, but I haven't referred to myself as a vegetarian since I was. I call myself a chickenetarian, or a "poultryetarian" as a joke. Oh no, wait, I have called myself "essentially a vegetarian" to some co-workers, since I so rarely do eat fish or chicken, but I have explained to them specifically what I meant by that. I am looking back and seeing if I accidentally said this somewhere.

  2. I wasn't sure if you called yourself a vegetarian or not and I was hoping that I didn't make you mad with this one. Glad that I didn't. :)

    And, glad that you call yourself a "chickenaterian". :)