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Isn’t A Weekday Vegetarian Just A Meat Eater In Conscious Clothing?

Filed under: Activism Food Media

Sometimes I’m a very composed vegan, open-minded and willing to explore the merits of opposing arguments. The vegan who has come to be content with the fact that there just might be more than one right answer; the world is complex after all.

Other times though, I drink straight from a bottle of Haterade.

I must be parched today, because when I stumbled upon this piece in Time Magazine about Weekday Vegetarians I threw back the Haterade like my jaw had hinges.

I can certainly appreciate the idea of vowing to eat less meat for a myriad of honest justifiable reasons that absolutely make sense for you (the environment and the animals), but stay away from calling yourself vegetarian, because frankly you’re not only diluting the brand, you’re making things confusing.

I’m all for Meatless Mondays. I love that Mario Batali is penning a vegetarian cookbook. I couldn’t be happier that Graham Hill from TreeHugger is only eating meat on the weekends. What I’m not happy about is the re-appropriation of long-held ideals.

There is obviously a movement towards eating less meat; I can see that clear as day (and I’m all smiles about it). I just don’t like the flippant disregard and dilution of those movements that were here when soymilk was a powder and Seitan was God’s sworn enemy.

Simply put: Get your own words – this one is taken.

18 Comments

  1. Comment by

    Szabe

    on #

    It seems to me that this kind of attitude is what make people consider veg*ns extremists, and makes them less interested in being one.

  2. Comment by

    beanmail

    on #

    Look what you’ve done now, BBRR; by promoting the actual definition of vegetarianism (and veganism), you have bullied the compassion right out of Szabe.

  3. Comment by

    BrownbirdRudyRelic

    on #

    @ Szabe.

    Vegans are not extreme. People who skydive outta’ planes while riding a BMX bike are extreme. I’m just a dude with an opinion who doesn’t eat animals.

  4. Comment by

    Szabe

    on #

    My point is not that your eating habits make you extreme. It’s that the promotion of this binary notion of “you are one or you aren’t” focuses people’s attention on the identity issues surrounding their eating decisions, and away from what matters, which is the impact of those decisions.

  5. Comment by

    BrownbirdRudyRelic

    on #

    @ Szabe

    I can certainly appreciate your point. What I don’t appreciate is that you tried to insinuate that I have wings and that I can fly. This is not true. While I do have wings they are rather small and are not able to support my weight.

  6. Comment by

    Marty Krutolow

    on #

    I had a discussion with someone when I was still eating fish and seafood. Rarely. Like once in a blue moon. But oh, like, 99% of what I ate, and 100% of what I cooked was vegan and I identified as a vegan but was … hmmm … told, instructed, chastised, and put down because I said I *identified* as a vegan. So, how much of your diet, life, philosophy MUST one have before they can identify as something. Yeah, eating animals for 1/3 of your meals seems to me not even close to the line of being a vegetarian or vegan but they are EATING vegetarian/vegan for that time. But now lets say you eat something and it was made, unknown to you, with … oh, honey or egg white or anything. Do you now have to disclose to the world that you weren’t vegan, (for whatever the reason), for that bite, meal, day, week or whatever time unit you choose? I think it’s your *intent* to live your life a certain way that allows you to wear the thorny crown.

    I agree that it dilutes and confuses some people but I think those are the same people who really really need the instructions from a flight attendant about how to insert the metal tab into the buckle. We really can’t spend all of our time on the tips of the bell curve.

    For the most part, I think we can enjoy the flow of the world starting to move toward a meatless meal, day, week and eventually life without worrying about who is using “our” word.

    Marty
    Marty’s Flying Vegetarian Review
    http://www.martysnycveggiereview.blogger.com

  7. Comment by

    BrownbirdRudyRelic

    on #

    @ Marty

    I think you DO have to disclose when you’ve unknowingly eaten something not vegan. We keep detailed records, y’know.

    I think there is a distinct difference between calling yourself a vegetarian when you still eat meat and unknowingly eating animal products when you’re veg*n.

    And. Yes. You got me. I think a thorny crown is quite fashionable this season. It’s all the rage in Paris. One could wear it with a cross to bear but it might be “too busy” for many tastes.

    And for the record it was never “your” word to begin with. Remember when you used to eat fish but identified as a vegan? We still remember that and we haven’t forgiven you.

  8. Comment by

    RMS

    on #

    Nice post, Mr. Relic!
    I recently wrote a blog post on a similar theme. I have to say, at the risk of getting all extremist and alienating the compassion out of everyone, that the words vegan and vegetarian have definitions. They mean something very specific. Yes, it’s about *intent* and no, you aren’t kicked out of the vegan club for accidentally eating some baked in honey. But, I would argue, that you *are* kicked out of the club for knowingly and willfully eating animal products/animals on any sort of regular (or irregular) basis. And if that is what works for you, fine. Then call yourself and “aspiring veg*n” and leave it at that.

  9. Comment by

    JL goes Vegan

    on #

    I was one of those vegetarians who ate fish for several years. Then I actually embraced being a vegetarian (no animal flesh). I am now eating vegan and I understand what this means. No animals / animal products. Period. When I call a restaurant in advance and explain I’m vegan and they provide a fish dish as one of my options, it’s clear the word has lost meaning or they are clueless. Probably both. I concur with you 100% in your desire to be both inviting, yet firm in your conviction. Applause, applause.

  10. Comment by

    Cat Clyne

    on #

    Hm. How ’bout ‘lessitarians’ or ‘weekend meatheads’? I dunno. But a sometimes vegetarian ain’t a vegetarian. I’m sure the animals they eat would agree.

  11. Comment by

    danny

    on #

    if your belief in being vegetarian is to be part of a group/clique than by all means agree w this post. however, if you want to save as many animals as possible, then you MUST completely disagree with this post. The obvious point is that this weekday veg would kill about 40billion less animals a year worldwide if it caught on (no biggie). And how could it become a worldwide trend? By making it mainstream, allowing more people to call themselves vegetarian bc we all know that not being veggie for most ppl is all in their heads. it is a little annoying when ppl call themselves veggie while eating chicken but…they just need time and im willing to wait and help them out bc i want to end animal suffering. no one needs to know im vegan. being just me is good enough

  12. Comment by

    Danielle

    on #

    If you eat meat, not matter how much, you are a meat eater. Plain and simple. Vegetarian means you do not eat any meat.

    It’s like trying to justify smoking. Oh I don’t smoke, only once in a while. You’re still a smoker. You smoke.

    Oh I don’t eat meat, only once in a while. You still eat meat, you are a meat-eater, not Vegetarian.

    It’s not about being part of a ‘group’ it’s about using words in their right terms. If you disagree with this then words must mean nothing and we can define anything in whatever way we want it to mean.

  13. Comment by

    Belsandia

    on #

    I think that every bit of progress should be applauded. If that means we can get many more people to go vegetarian at least part of the time, why not? Overall the idea is to decrease exploitation and suffering of animals, and less meat eaters could mean less forced breeding and torturing – a step in a better direction.

    It is however important that semi-vegetarianism is not accepted as the solution. It is just a step. Like humane farming methods, this addresses certain symptoms of the problem, but not the problem itself, which is that we abuse and kill animals for food, etc. in the first place.

    Still, my opinion is that introducing people to meat-free living – even one day at a time, is worthy our best efforts. It will allow people to see how easy it is, how many plant food choices there are, and how good they feel. This could slowly break down the objection by many main streamers, and helps convincing people that vegetarians and vegans are not an elite bunch of lunatics who live an impossibly hard lifestyle.

    I think it’s OK to encourage people who want to go veg partime. Let them get started and become comfortable, and then bring in other messages that target the real objective: elimination of animal exploitation for any reason.

  14. Comment by

    Zach Rock Steady

    on #

    Brownbird, you must have been thirsty. And you totally are extreme, I’ve seen it, don’t be modest.

    For a lot of people, going even one day without meat is a big, big deal. If someone wants to be vegetarian most of the time but not all of the time, so what if he uses the word “vegetarian” to briefly summarize what he’s doing, especially if he modifies it with “weekday?” At least he’s being more forthright than the people who claim to be vegetarian but actually include chicken and fish in their diet.

    I actually think this is a brilliant way to reach out to all those people who say “oh, I could NEVER be vegetarian” even though they think it’s the right thing to do. It is a simple, rules-based formula that is more palatable for people who can’t imagine living entirely meat-free. How many of them will think, oh, I could try that! I bet a lot.

    I’m strict about being vegan and straightedge, but I still think purists ruin everything good about everything. Actions are way more important than words. Ok, if you eat meat, you are not a vegetarian, fine. But if you don’t eat meat on weekdays, why not call it being a weekday vegetarian? It’s not as if it’s just some cheeky garbage like the wankers who say they’re vegan between meals. Going 5 days a week meat-free is substantial, and calling it “weekday vegetarian[ism]” is honest. Let him use it.

  15. Comment by

    reality

    on #

    For all of us who have to explain that vegetarians don’t eat gelatin, chicken broth, fish, etc.–saying you are a vegetarian when you aren’t one makes the rest of our lives very difficult. I eat a little cheese and the occasional egg, so I don’t say I am vegan–even though in many circumstances I’d prefer the vegan option. It’s just not fair to real vegans.

  16. Comment by

    Dylan Roberts

    on #

    I see the argument, and I agree. Let’s not diminish the meaning of words shall we? It’s bad enough that both someone like Dennis Kucinich and Joe Lieberman can both be labeled “Democrats”. Would it really serve any purpose for the same thing to happen to a pretty self explanatory word?

  17. Comment by

    Anne

    on #

    How about a Weekend Carnovore then? does that appease you sensibilities?

  18. Comment by

    KC

    on #

    Weekday vegan sounds attractive to me.

    I’m a vegan, I have absolutely no desire to eat meat. However things like cheese are incredibly difficult to give up. (I’ve only been vegan for three months, I’ve managed to stop eating cheese but I have constant cravings and no vegan cheese I’ve tried has been any good.)

    Right now I wouldn’t dare eat cheese, as I’ve been trying to lose about 100 pounds and I’m already down 25. Also I feel fantastic on a vegan diet. But the thought of never having a pizza hut deep dish cheese pizza EVER again is freaking me out!! I know the horrors of the dairy industry. But some days it’s not enough to stop me from thinking “well just one pizza isn’t going to make much of a difference”. I make the right choice in the end and don’t get one. But I don’t know how long my willpower is going to last. :(

    I have a lot of respect for anyone who pulls off a vegan diet long term. To those of you have been doing this for years- you’re awesome.

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