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[Here's a good article that I agree with. I have no problem with semi-vegetarians, but apparently a lot of people here are anti-semis, so I wanted to foward this article to the board to see what people think...]

From http://www.veganforlife.org/rantrave02.htm

Dealing with semi & pseudo vegetarians

Welcome to Rants & Raves 2. Last week, I rabbited on about the problem vegans have in getting our message across without being confrontational. This week I'm going to rave about another pet hate with unique problems of its own: pseudo- or semi- vegetarians.

I'm sure you all know a few people who claim to be vegetarian yet eat fish or chicken. Heck, I've even met one guy who called himself a vegetarian because he only ate red meat!

How should we approach these people, and what do we do about them?

Certainly they are the bane of every strict vegetarian's existence, whether they intend to be or not. I mean, how many times have you been told a food is vegetarian because it only has fish in it? Or what about a bit of seafood? Surely that's vegetarian? And you do eat fish, don't you? Chicken stock is probably the worst offender - it keeps making unwelcome guest appearances in all sorts of dishes carrying the label "vegetarian".

It's easy to get frustrated and annoyed by the semi/pseudo-vegetarian. After all, they are propagating the myth that fish, chicken stocks etc are vegetarian by associating the word "vegetarian" with these foods. Like it or not, they make the strict vegetarian's life a lot harder every time they link animal flesh of any type with the concept of vegetarianism. They confuse the issue for good-intentioned meat-eaters, and the result is websites such as The Better Health Channel - a government-funded website that lists the "five degrees of vegetarianism" as including such delights as "pisco-vegetarians" (those who eat fish) and "pollo- vegetarians" (those who eat chicken).

But before we go condemning these individuals, maybe its time to stop and do a little thinking first.

First of all, at least they are making an effort. By giving up at least some animal products, they are making a move in the right direction. They're taking small, but positive steps in their lives.

Secondly, going veg, whether vegan or vegetarian, can be a difficult road for some people. I know that (for me) it took a long time to stop finding the smell of various meat foods attractive, and that making the final transition off fish and seafood came as a real challenge (although I must admit I lost the taste for red meat almost immediately and now it just smells like burnt sewerage!). Surprisingly, veganism came easier than the de-fishing of my life, and I can understand that for some these final steps are difficult ones to take.

So what should the strict vegetarian do when confronted with such individuals?

Well, despite the fact that I've been doing it for years, I'd have to say that getting aggressive and critical is definitely NOT the answer. To take an aggressive stance is just going to scare these people away from ever taking the last few steps in their own personal journeys. I'm a really bad offender in this regard - I confess I am. It just gets those proverbial hairs on the back of my neck rising up every time I see one of these "vegetarians" eating chicken or fish. But to kick up a stink about it really does achieve nothing.

I think that probably the best approach is to simply let them be, while at the same time being very politely insistent to confused waiters, dinner hosts etc, that no animal flesh is vegetarian. One answer is to gently suggest to the pseudo/semi-vegetarian that they go by another name - pescatarian (fish-eater) or pollotarian (fowl-eater) might be a start, as these names separate these people from the general omnivores yet do not associate these particular diets with vegetarianism. After all, the main thing is to clear up the confusion, not to start a fight.

So - next time I see a good "vegetarian" friend of mine tucking into her fish, I'll try to smile and be friendly - and not start a fight. I promise.

***
 

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Hrm I kinda agree with that article..

Sometimes I just have to remind myself when I started being a vegetarian I ate fish and gelatin (It was only for about 2 weeks... Until I realised it was dumb.. And when I found out about Gelatin)

But still people that eat fish and chicken and call themselves vegetarians all the time annoy me.. Especially those who seem to not want to actually stop eating those things...

Danny
 

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I don't think I would say anything to the person's face... but I do go out of my way to educate omnis about the true definition of vegetarian. Since I've not met a semi-veg I really have no idea what I'd do in that situation...
 

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" I have no problem with semi-vegetarians, but apparently a lot of people here are anti-semis"

---------------------"

I don't think I've read anyone here being "anti-semi" but if these people would call themselves "semi-vegetarian" and not "vegetarian" , it would make a huge difference .

If someone eats a little chicken now and then, sorry ... but they are not vegetarian and it weakens the word in common use so that eventually a vegetarian meal will mean chicken alfredo. And if you tell someone who says they are vegetarian and still eats fish or chicken and they keep using the word "vegetarian" then it does become annoying.

I'm not against their effort ad think it's good but the proper words should be used.

The insistance on the use of the correct word is not just found in this issue. There are tons of situations in the world where people within a group , idealogy , religion, belief system or club insist on somene not using their term if they dont follow the guidelines.
 

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I also agree. It´s important to draw a clear line, that pesco-pollo-anything doesn´t fit the definition of veg*n. And: a line is not a fence.

PS: some veg*ns don´t know that Worchester sauce contains fish, as does Nuocmam.
 

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I agree. I was once told that my husband's boss' daughter was vegetarian (to ensure that there'd be stuff I could eat at a party we were attending) only to find out she still eats chicken and fish. So I said, "Oh, so she's *not* a vegetarian. Maybe pseudo-." (I'm not sure if she or her father came up with that logic.)

Then my brother (who is very understanding and accommodating now) took me to lunch not long after I went veg. When I ordered a veggie burger, he said, "Oh, you don't eat chicken?" I said, "No, no meat at all." It's aggravating, but I try to be patient.

Also, I stopped eating processed meat (bacon, lunch meats, anything ground) over 6 years ago, then pork and beef in about July of 2001, then fish and poultry in November of 2001. I never said I was vegetarian until I actually quit eating meat. I'd just say I was in transition or something. But being anal-retentive like I am, the whole thing does bother me.
 

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I agree that its really annoying when people say "Psuedo-vegetarian" or whatnot. But a lot of people who reduce meat in their diet are also curious about vegetarianism and by connecting themselves to true vegetarians in that way, they are sort-of testing the waters, I guess. I still feel my blood curdle when i see tunafish sandwiches listed as vegetarian items, but having been veg for a while now, it doesn't try my patience as much as when I first switched and was trying to define my own veg*anism.
 

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I think people need to be honest with themselves about what they're doing, why, and what they want to convey.

Once people find out that I refrain from eating meat and that I try to use cruelty free products, etc. they immediately say "Oh, you're a vegetarian." I am very quick to correct the label, as I am not a "perfect" vegetarian and don't like being called a vegetarian because I do realize the symbolism/importance of the word and what it can convey to others. I certainly don't want to be caught with a crab leg in my hand just after I've said, "YEAH, I'm a vegetarian."

If people were truthful about their intentions with others and themselves I don't think the "labeling" issue would be such a sticking point here.
 

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Some of you probably saw my long post on this topic on another thread.

I think it's important to not paint with too broad a brush. There are lots of different cases here.

Some just aren't aware of the definition, or have come across a wrong or misleading definition in the past. If that is the case, I just try to educate them, politely but clearly.

Then there are near-vegetarians, people who eat vegetarian meals almost all the time, but occasionally eat something that is not. This is what my own diet is like. There are a *lot* of people in this category these days - they tend to be vegetarian for reasons of health, ecological responsibility, or lifestyle simplicity. They are apparently a small minority on this board, but seem to be a majority of those identifying as "vegetarian" in the population at large. I don't think it is wrong for these people to identify themselves as vegetarians, although they should be clear that their exceptions are just that...exceptions.

To have an absolute purity test to pass before a person can identify themselves with vegetarianism comes across as elitist and dogmatic, especially once it is acknowledged that not everyone comes to vegetarianism from a passionate animal rights perspective.

Also, pescetarians did not single-handedly create the confusion over what "vegetarian" means. There is the whole meat = red meat thing, the Catholic fish thing, and a whole range of different religious dietary traditions, all with different prohibited items.

There are also some people who just use the word because they think it makes them trendy, but have chicken or fish (or even red meat) at many of their meals. I don't think it's generally productive to bring the issue to their attention, although you can set an example by explaining your own diet and motives if the subject comes up.

Yet another category are those who are sincerely trying, but can't quite manage to do it 100%, because of social pressure, cravings, etc. These might be compared to people who are trying to quit smoking but can't resist a puff or two from a friend's cigarette now and then. Telling these people they are not real vegetarians is just hurtful and unsupportive.

There are so many different people, each doing what they do for their own reasons and using words their own way, that I think it is just a frustrating and probably counteproductive thing to try to change them all or to be stressed over them. The energy should be put into straightening out mistakes in cookbooks, newspapers, restaurants, websites, etc. -- institutions that are giving an official imprimatur to misunderstanding.

Even though I make occasional exceptions to my vegetarian diet, if I ask for a vegetarian meal that is what I want to get - not fish or chicken.

I also think it would be helpful to move away from categorizing people and instead categorize food. Until then, we are just going to have to live with people saying "So-and-so is a vegetarian, and *he* eats fish" (and using it to argue that fish is a vegetarian food). The best response to that argument is "not everyone who identifies themselves as a vegetarian eats vegetarian food 100% of the time."

Categorizing the food, not the people, would also - I am convinced - encourage more omnis to choose vegetarian meals from time to time, and make vegetarian meals more available generally. Right now, the prevalent conception is that there are these weird people (like a cult or something) called "vegetarians" who *can't* eat meat, and that (if a restaurant cares at all) one or two menu items are all that are needed for them, because no one would choose to eat vegetarian if they didn't have to. Wouldn't it be great if vegetarian meals were regarded as exciting and appetizing options for everyone?

Even from an animal rights perspective, I think there is merit in looking at the big picture of how much meat is being consumed throughout the population as a whole, instead of focusing on whether some individual person "never" eats meat or just "seldom" eats meat. "Never" may be an important distinction for one's personal choices, but I wouldn't make an issue of it with someone else's diet, when I may not know their reasons.
 

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i ate gelatin for about 4 years because i had no idea gelatin was in candy like starbursts and skittles. oops.

recently, my friend became a vegetarian, she told me, but i then found out she was still eating seafood. huh? i wanted to be like "but fish are animals!" but the fact that she was trying and avoiding all other animals is a great effort, so i wasn't going to say anything. yes it's annoying to hear people who eat chicken and fish to call themselves vegetarians, but i'm not going to bug them. they're doing something good.
 

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I don't care what other people eat, but I do get angry when someone who eats chicken or fish calls themself a vegetarian. If they called themself a semi-vegetarian, that'd be fine. I'm not upset with their dietary habits; I'm upset b/c it weakens the word and only adds to the general public's confusion. I think it also makes it difficult for people who are not vegetarians to accommodate their vegetarian loved ones. I went to dinner with my parents a couple years ago at a new restaurant in town. My mom called ahead and asked if there were any vegetarian dishes. She was told there were a number of vegetarian dishes. Come to find out the "vegetarian" dishes all contained sea food. I wasn't too upset b/c the chef made me a vegetarian plate (very nice, I thought), but my mom was really mad. So, the weakening of the word "vegetarian" doesn't only hurt the vegetarians.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Seusomon



Even from an animal rights perspective, I think there is merit in looking at the big picture of how much meat is being consumed throughout the population as a whole, instead of focusing on whether some individual person "never" eats meat or just "seldom" eats meat. "Never" may be an important distinction for one's personal choices, but I wouldn't make an issue of it with someone else's diet, when I may not know their reasons.
A big AMEN to that!

(I love the Meatless Monday campaign. I think if the general population went meatless just one day a week - that would make a huge difference (even though Meatless Monday does "allow" fish).
 

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Thanks for the Meatless Monday link! I'd never heard of it (which makes me wonder how many omnis have - sigh).

My attitude when I look at the typical American diet is - sheez - even if you don't care about animal suffering, do you really *need* to kill a pig for breakfast, a chicken for lunch, and a cow for dinner, and start all over again the next day? Doesn't it seem just a tad - um - wasteful and indulgent? And would you eat this way if you had to do all the killing yourself? Or would the rice and black beans and tomatoes start to seem more sensible?

Most Americans eat the way they do because that's what they ate as kids, and because it is handed to them in neat little celophane-wrapped packages. Changed habits come directly from changed consciousness - EVERYONE who has some concern about meat consumption (regardless of which dictionary category they fall into) is part of the solution, not part of the problem!

Blessings, Tom
 

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I dont really care about what other people do and dont eat but what i do care about is when it starts to affect what i can and cant eat. when vegetarian choices in a restaurant and in stores are all loaded with pseudo vegetarian products like fish and chicken stock, and rennet, and the like, that is when i have a problem.

even the American Dietetic Society states in their recent position paper that there are 3 kinds of vegetarians lacto-ovo, Vegan, and Fisheating??? well if it exists at that level of course companies and restaurants are going to try to serve us seafood when we state that we ask for a vegetarian entree.

that my 2 cents worth

say

**as an aside they do acknowledge later that there is great variation in veg eating styles
 

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Quote:
the American Dietetic Society states in their recent position paper that there are 3 kinds of vegetarians lacto-ovo, Vegan, and Fisheating
German physicians have been told that the diet for longevity is vegetarian - including meat every now and then!

But I like the idea of a veggie i.t.
 

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My biggest pet peave is when I tell people that I'm a vegetarian and they get all guilty looking and say "well, I only eat chicken once a week, so I'm half vegetarian."



I feel bad, but I have to say something. It usually ends up, "Well, that's great, but vegetarian means no meat at all, so there is no half. But it's ok with me if you eat meat, it's a personal decision." Unless I'm in a hurry in which case I just say, "Interesting!"
 

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A new girl at work found out I was a veggie and said "well I am Well actually I started eating cxn again" I didnt get further into it-it's her decision, but today we had a pot luck(an omni brought homemade Hummus
and she wouldn't eat the cxn we had because it was on the bone. I asked if it was because it reminded her more that way that is was a living thing and she said yeah. I didn't say anything and just felt sad. It's like if you're in denial than it's ok. I mean when I see people eat shrimp(or any meat) all I can think about is that it's a tiny corpse. But alas, I must accept them for they know not what they do. We must educate,educate,educate.
 
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