Friday, August 28, 2009

Should there be so many??

As the Vegan Examiner for Louisville I just published an article describing the many classifications of a vegetarian diet. It seems that as the popularity of vegetarianism has grown, the number of classifications has grown as well. There's a category of "vegetarian" diet to fit nearly any diet you choose. There's vegan to describe a person who consumes and utilizes nothing derived from an animal to flexitarian which describes a person who actually includes all foods in their diet.......but still, the label identifies them as vegetarian.

My question is this; should there be so many labels. Shouldn't the term vegetarian describe a person who only consumes plant based foods? Why does there seem to be such a need to identify as a vegetarian? Is it perhaps because people realize (either consciously or unconsciously) that consuming animal flesh and secretions is inherently wrong? Is it because people recognize that a plant based diet is better for their health? Is it because they realize that a plant based diet is more sustainable?

My personal opinion is that the myriad labels be dropped, that there be one term. I prefer that the word vegetarian describes a person who does not consume animal flesh, animal secretions, or the result of animal labor (honey), and animal slaughter (gelatin). I feel that the word vegetarian looses it's meaning when we begin to add those that eat fish, or those that sometimes consume meat (flexitarian). Vegetarianism should be a lifestyle of health, compassion and sustainability, period.

Share your thoughts.


  1. Carrie... I'm with you: Vegan and Vegetarian and that's it. The others are too confusing really.

  2. I don't think that people that eat meat sometimes are really vegetarian. I guess I don't really care what they want to call themselves. I do think that the distinction between vegan and vegetarian is still helpful, though. There are ways to use products made by animals, such as honey and cheese which I don't feel are necessarily bad for the animal. Not only is there an ideological difference between vegans and vegetarians, but it is also helpful for when you are eating over at someone else's house. If they are familiar with the lingo then they know whether they can use eggs, cheese and milk or not.

  3. I agree with simplicity. But, you know how complicated Americans like to make things. 'Course I have had people tell me that they're vegan and that they only eat organic meat. Hmmm...