Saturday, February 14, 2009

108 - A conversation about the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan

One of the most repeated discussions I've ever been involved in is the discussion that concerns the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan. I get sick of people asking what the difference is, and I get even more tired of all the people that claim to know what the difference is, pretend to be a smartass, only to present an incorrect answer or an answer that is sort of correct, but not quite.

So here it is: Vegetarianism is the dietary practice that excludes meat, fish, seafood and poultry. Veganism is a form of vegetarianism which excludes all animal products, including meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products and honey. Vegans usually do this out of support for animal rights, and therefore, tend to disapprove of the use of fur, leather, wool and silk.

Please, I do not want to have this discussion again. Please, please, please, not again.

15 comments:

Argentum Vulgaris said...

If vegetarians eat vegetables....
What do humanitarians eat?

Just the lighter side...

AV
http://netherregionoftheearthii.blogspot.com/
http://tomusarcanum.blogspot.com/
http://thingsthatfizz.blogspot.com/

Call me Autumn said...

What I hate more is when vegetarians/vegans try to make you feel guilty for eating meat, or meat eaters / whatever the correct term is bag out those who are vegetarian/vegan... it's a personal choice, whatever you feel is right and acceptable should be fine...

Douglas said...

AV, and do they use baby oil when they deep fry?

Autumn, the proper term is "carnivore" for one who eats meat exclusive of all other. Humans are, by nature (and physiology) omnivores. We eat whatever is available, not limiting it to meat or vegetation.

yolanda said...

douglas, the common hypothesis is that humans are omnivores, but actually i believe we were biologically designed to eat fruit. our teeth and digestive systems differ from Omnivores in subtle ways that would indicate that we are not actually supposed to eat meat at all eg. our digestive tract is extremely long, which is not suitable for meat digestion. the sharp teeth that we have at the front of our mouths, that resmble canines, are actually perfect for gripping and biting fruit.

michael, are you actually a vegetarian/vegan, or do you just find yourself embroiled in these debates?

EiTheL said...

In my school, there are plenty of vegans/vegetarians (Enough to make every meal served by the school have a decent amount of dishes be vegan)

@Autumn: none of the Vegans/vegetarians here pester me about eating meat :P. Sometimes I pester them about not eating meat (as a joke of course)


Related story:
In one of the first classes you take in my school (Food and Culture) you are shown a video about how badly a chicken is treated and it shows how it is killed. There were many kids who were like "This is disgusting, I'm going to be a vegetarian" and they do... for a week, then they give up :P

Douglas said...

Yolanda, and those bicuspids? And our need for simpler use of animal protein? We are omnivores. Being vegetarian is a choice but not a natural one. We can survive, even thrive, on a vegetarian diet but we could not have done so even a 100 years ago. Much of the reason we now could has to do with technology and advancements in scientific knowledge.

Curiously, we cannot survive just being carnivore.

Liz Sedai said...

I'm a vegetarian, but plan on becoming a vegan...my body can't handle the change too quickly though :P
But I've never had to argue about the difference between them. People just seem to know. The arguments that I most frequently have involve me shouting at people saying they have no conscience, and the health and moral benefits of not eating meat...yep, I am a one of them PETA extreme kind of animal activists. And proud of it too.

yolanda said...

Douglas, (sorry about hogging your blog michel ;))

what about 3000 years ago? however we've adapted to processing food, it's undeniable that we are physiologically different to herbivores / omnivores/ carnivores. we've got little bits of all of them. i can't claim the 'fruitivore' theory as my own unfortunately, but i definitely think it's possible.

Interestingly the Inuits have a diet which is pretty much just meat and they - apparently - are extremely healthy. when they start to incorporate other foods into their diet they have a tendency to become diabetic.

Douglas said...

3000 years ago we knew nothing about nutrition. 150 years ago, we didn't understand what vitamins were or why we needed them. The inuits supplement their meat diet with berries and something known as fireweed. In other words, it is not an entirely meat diet. They also have a balance of fish and meat we do not normally eat which may add nutrients we would otherwise get from other sources.
There are a number of factors involved which I won't get into but would recommend you Google "inuit diet" and do some reading.

Nothing is quite as simple as it seems. Or as some would like us to believe.

LittleJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LittleJ said...

How many times have I had this very same argument with people in my year... or the honey debate...

What I hate more is being made to feel guilty when people get on my case for not eating meat. Or when they get upset about the fact that I am not totally upbeat about going to a restaurant that I know full-well has nothing on the menu that I would be okay with eating... like a steakhouse. Or when people share food with me, conveniently 'forgetting' to tell me that it has meat products in it, then having this humongous smile on their face after I have tasted it.

Oh, actually, what I hate more is going to a restaurant and ordering something that is supposed to be veggie/vegan, and then tasting it and realizing that it has been cooked with beef/in beef broth/has egg in it.

No, more than this, what I despise is people assuming that I don't eat meat because I am pro-animal/anti-fur, and then looking at me expectantly when they get into THAT argument. No, TOK debaters, I am NOT taking your side.

But, yes, the vegan vs. vegetarian debate is irritating too :). Wouldn't it be just that much easier if we all just ate the stinking cows.

yolanda said...

ah, i didnt know about the berries and fireweed. agreed that nothing is as simple as it seems - which is why i question standard beliefs... like 'we are omnivores' ;)

Douglas said...

It is always good to question beliefs but one should be equally (maybe more than equally) willing to question one's own beliefs before questioning another's. Omnivore merely means that a organism is not limited in diet. It does not mean the organism must eat both vegetable and meat, just that they are capable and evolved physiologically to do so. We are human beings, we have these things called self awareness and free will. Combined, these allow us to make choices which may, or may not, be in our best interests. We should not look down, or askance, at people's choices. We should also not assume that a difference of opinion about those choices is disapproval or an insult.

yolanda said...

douglas,

sorry if you felt i was questioning your beliefs. i was actually enjoying the exchange! i simply think it's possible that we originally evolved to eat fruit.

i would love to be vegetarian, but i just can't handle the hunger ;)

yolanda

Michael said...

AV: ...

Autumn: A good one for a post, that is annoying. I will keep it in mind for future entries.

Douglas: I love your conclusion. Love it, love it, love it. You win in my eyes, we are omnivores biologically. Not herbivores, not carnivores. Some of us are omnivores and vegetarian. Some of us are omnivores and non-vegetarian. Clean, clear argument.(Oh, and by the way, baby oil?)

Yolanda: I always welcome you to discuss on my blog, you know that. Although I said that Douglas won that argument, I appreciate and applaud your persistence, but more so, your open-mindedness and your contributions. (There is a guy in my class that has been an on-and-off vegetarian. Our class is waaaaaay too obsessed with it.)

Gabriel: Someone in my class gave a presentation on vegetarianism and told us about the chickens too. We are all pretty darn carnivorous though, so no, no radical ethical changes for us. Hahaha.

Liz Sedai: Good on you for holding on to your beliefs. So as long as you don't force me to stay away from meat.


Sarah: Like I said to Autumn, I'll keep those in mind if I run out of ideas in the future. You've given me plenty of ideas. :)