Thursday, October 14, 2010

Oodles Of Classifications

Vegan Vs. Vegetarian - From Dr. Weil yesterday:

Vegetarian: This term describes someone who does not consume poultry, meat, seafood or fish.
Semi-Vegetarian: A person who consumes dairy products, poultry (including eggs) and fish, but does not eat any other animal flesh or products.
Ovo-Lacto-Vegetarian: Someone who eats eggs and milk, but does not consume any other animal products.
Ovo-Vegetarian: A person who consumes eggs but no other animal products or flesh.
Lacto-Vegetarian: Someone who consumes milk but no other animal products or flesh.
Vegan: Vegans do not consume any animal flesh, products or by-products. Some vegans also do not consume yeast or honey, and often opt not to wear clothing and accessories made from animals.

And from Today's Dietitian: Defending Vegan Diets — RDs Aim to Clear Up Common Misconceptions About Vegan Diets
"Andrea Giancoli, MPH, RD, a California-based spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, is what she calls a “pesca-vegan.” She eats fish but no meat, eggs, or dairy."
Pesca-Vegan. Aren't those terms mutually exclusive? Is she clearing up the misconception that vegans don't eat meat?

Which begs...
Mega-Vegan: A vegan who eats meat and eggs but no fish or dairy.
Daffy-Vegan: A vegan who eats dairy and fish, but no meat and eggs.
Mega-Daffy-Vegan: A vegan who eats, meat, eggs, dairy and fish but no poultry.
________
1 Thanks to Rob at McDougall Forums.

10 comments:

Bix said...

All these classifications are getting out of hand.

Anonymous said...

Mega- meat/eggs... i get it. ha!

Ben P. DaSalt said...

“Vegan Vs. Vegetarian”
It’s not necessarily a competition, it’s better understood as a continuum.

Vegetarian: There’s a broad history and philosophical ideas (religious and secular) associated with vegetarianism, it’s not just limited to a description of diet. The term did exist before the creating of the Vegetarian Society in 1847, but that organization (and associated offshoots) holds the most cultural claim to the term. Vegetarianism is much better understood as an ethical position, than as a dietary strategy.

Semi-Vegetarian: Terms like pescatarain and flexitarain fall here as well. Since there are no organizations that supports these labels it’s more a matter of media creating a term for people in certain spectrums of eating, but they are not terms that any group maintains as meaningful. File pesca-vegan here as well.

Lacto-Vegetarian: Traditional Indian vegetarians who didn’t eat meat felt that eggs were too flesh-like so excluded them. Historically, they didn’t call themselves vegetarians or lacto-vegetarians though.

Ovo-Vegetarian: There isn’t really a strong group of vegetarians who only eat eggs but exclude dairy, perhaps Asian vegetarians, but it’s doubtful that they are deliberately avoiding milk, probably just don’t have access to it or any cultural desire to procure it. A person who doesn’t eat meat, never dairy, and some eggs probably doesn’t label themselves ovo-vegetarian nor is there some organized group of ovo-vegetarians out there

Ovo-Lacto-Vegetarian: This is redundant of the term vegetarian, but the idea was that eggs and dairy were not derived from the slaughter of animals.

Vegan: The idea for excluding eggs and dairy is that the production is from female animals that makes male animal superfluous, and ultimately destined for slaughter.

In practical terms, the dairy industry begets the veal industry and spent dairy cows are slaughtered for meat anyway. Egg production mandates that chicks are sexed and males are outright destroyed by the millions each year. Spent hens are slaughtered for meat. Even in a small farm this situation occurs, small dairies have cows, but where are the bulls? Back yard chickens are all hens, where are the roosters?

Vegans view it to be very difficult to use animals as means to ends without at some point slaughtering them or compromising their welfare. Other non-food animal items are excluded as part what it means to be vegan, even the wool industry creates a mutton industry, though of course it’s up to individual vegan how compliant they are and there can be gray areas. Point is, the Vegan Society and various offshoots, have always considered issues of animal use beyond diet.

Yeast is suitable for vegans. It’s not an animal nor does the Vegan Society or any offshoots make any claim to eschew it. Whatever “some vegans” that Dr Weil know, do or do not consume doesn’t really mean anything for veganism. He’s just confusing people. Some Americans don’t watch television, but one can easily watch television be considered American.

Dr Weil, and many other diet advocates like him would be better off using the term plant-based diet and avoiding all this labeling. One could easily say, “I follow a plant-based diet,” and then add any conditionals especially if they don’t want to bring up, or don't necessarily agree with the ethical connotations that have long been a part of vegetarianism.

Ben P. DaSalt said...

“Vegan Vs. Vegetarian”
It’s not necessarily a competition, it’s better understood as a continuum.

Vegetarian: There’s a broad history and philosophical ideas (religious and secular) associated with vegetarianism, it’s not just limited to a description of diet. The term did exist before the creating of the Vegetarian Society in 1847, but that organization (and associated offshoots) holds the most cultural claim to the term. Vegetarianism is much better understood as an ethical position, than as a dietary strategy.

Semi-Vegetarian: Terms like pescatarain and flexitarain fall here as well. Since there is no organizations that supports these labels it’s more a matter of media creating a term for people in certain spectrums of eating, but they are not terms that any group maintains as meaningful. File pesca-vegan here as well.

Lacto-Vegetarian: Traditional Indian vegetarians who didn’t eat meat felt that eggs were flesh like meat so excluded them. Historically, they didn’t call themselves vegetarians or lacto-vegetarians though.

Ovo-Vegetarian: There isn’t really a strong group of vegetarians who only eat eggs but exclude dairy, perhaps Asian vegetarians, but it’s doubtful that they are deliberately avoiding milk, probably just don’t have access to it or any cultural desire to procure it. A person who doesn’t eat meat, never dairy, and some eggs probably doesn’t label themselves ovo-vegetarian nor is there some organized group of ovo-vegetarians out there

Ovo-Lacto-Vegetarian: This is redundant of the term vegetarian, but the idea was that eggs and dairy were not derived from the slaughter of animals.

Vegan: The idea for excluding eggs and dairy is that the production is from female animals that makes male animal superfluous, and ultimately destined for slaughter. In practical terms, the dairy industry begets the veal industry and spent dairy cows are slaughtered for meat anyway. Egg production mandates that chicks are sexed and males are outright destroyed by the millions each year. Spent hens are slaughtered for meat. Even in a small farm this situation occurs, small dairies have cows, but where are the bulls? Back yard chickens are all hens, where are the roosters?

Vegans view it to be very difficult to use animals as means to ends without at some point slaughtering them or compromising their welfare. Other non-food animal items are excluded as part what it means to be vegan, even the wool industry creates a mutton industry, though of course it’s up to individual vegan how compliant they are and there can be gray areas. Point is, the Vegan Society and various offshoots, have always considered issues of animal use beyond diet.

Yeast is suitable for vegans. It’s not an animal nor does the Vegan Society or any offshoots make any claim to eschew it. Whatever “some vegans” that Dr Weil know, do or do not consume, doesn’t really mean anything for veganism. He’s contributing misinformation and just confusing people. Some Americans don’t watch television, but one can easily watch or not watch television and be considered American, it's unrelated.

Dr Weil, and many other diet advocates like him would be better off using the term plant-based diet and avoiding all this confusion. One could easily say, “I follow a plant-based diet,” and than add any conditionals especially if they don’t want to bring up the ethical connotations that are a long standing motivation of vegetarianism.

Ben P. DaSalt said...

We can look a cultural subgroup and analyze their behavior as odd, but we have to realize that we are making comparisons to what are assumed norms.

If we pretend to be extra-terrestrial anthropologists and examine human eating patterns, we will see all sorts variance, some that are reasonable, and some that are seemingly beyond explanation. Just because a social choice isn’t voiced, doesn’t mean that isn’t being selected.

So a statement from the linked article:

“Most people who make the decision to go vegan are dedicated to the lifestyle, many with almost religious fervor. That’s because veganism is not always just about nutrition; it’s often a belief system, a way of life.”

Could easily read as:

“Most people who make the decision to eat what they do are dedicated to the lifestyle, many with almost religious fervor. That’s because eating is not always just about nutrition; it’s often a belief system, a way of life.”

- There are meat eaters who abstain from eating meat at certain times of year.
- There are meat eaters who don’t eat certain parts of animals that they already eat or are squeamish about it (organs, feet, etc.)
- There are meat eaters who won’t eat meat if the blood wasn’t drained out.
- There are meat eaters who don’t eat pigs and think it’s wrong to do so.
- There are meat eaters who don’t eat dogs or dogs and think it’s wrong.
- There are meat eaters who don’t eat cats and think it’s wrong.
- There are meat eaters who don’t eat horses and think it’s wrong.
- There are meat eaters who don’t eat dolphins and think it’s wrong.
- There are meat eaters who don’t eat whales and think it’s wrong.
- There are meat eaters who don’t eat primates and think it’s wrong.
- There are meat eaters who are wary about eating calves, but are comfortable eating adult cattle.
- There are meat eaters who are wary about eating foie gras, but are comfortable eating duck.
- There are many, many meat eaters who have never slaughtered an animal for food.
- There are many, many meat eaters who are uncomfortable with factory farming yet it makes up 99% of the animal food supply (in the developed world).
- There are meat eaters who think hunting for meat is unacceptable.
- There are people that eat lobster, shrimp and crabs who wouldn’t eat cockroaches, spiders, or other insects, though they are similar biologically.
- There are people who think McDonalds is really good food.
- There are people who think McDonalds is really awful food.
- There are meat eaters who don’t want to eat cloned animals.
- There are meat eaters who don’t want to eat cattle that were fed corn.
- There are meat eaters who wouldn’t eat all sorts of animals while some meat eaters are more than happy to eat them: Rabbits, Kangaroos, Koalas, Opossums, Giraffes, Beavers, Guinea Pigs, Muskrats, Elephants, Raccoons, Weasels Camels, Lizards, Snakes, Iguanas, Frogs, Toads, Snails, just to name some.

The relationship humanity has with using animals can be a prickly one.

- There are people who think clubbing seals is wrong, but trapped fur is fine.
- There are people who think wearing fur is wrong but wearing leather is fine.
- There are people who think cock fighting is wrong, but dog fighting is fine.
- There are people who think dog fighting is wrong but bull fighting is fine.
- There are people who think bull fighting is wrong but rodeos are fine.
- There are people who think redoes are wrong, but circus animals are fine.
- There are people who think dog fighting is wrong, but dog racing is fine.
- There are people who think dog racing is wrong, but horse racing is fine.

There are plenty more examples, we just don’t label all these ideas and discrepancies.

While vegetarians seem to be confronting these questions they don’t hold some sort of monopoly on food exclusions, making food apart of their cultural identity, nor on degrees of consideration for animals. Any imaginative person could come up with variety of labels in an attempt to objectively catalog everyone’s particular practices.

Bix said...

Good reading, Ben. Lots to think about.

That point, about vegans, that they exclude eggs and dairy because it makes males superfluous and slaughter-bound. I don't hear that voiced very often but it makes sense, as a justification for diet at least.

Then (as you said) what about wool? or silk? or pearls? Or other products that use an animal as a means to an end, and end up creating a situation for animals that may be abusive?

The more I think about it, the more difficult I think it is to define "vegan" ... universally.

Bix said...

And...
That article recommended vegans take vitamin D3. I wonder where they get the D3 from?

Ben P. DaSalt said...

Since ideas on what veganism is, are varied and numerous, I’ll back up my claims with a few links.

Besides the usual ribbing done to so-called vegetarians eating non-vegetable foods, the use of eggs and milk and the related issue of complicit slaughter was a criticism leveled at vegetarians. While he wasn’t the first to address the inclusion, Henry Salt did write about the topic in 1899. In Socratic dialog, he described what he wittily called “the cock-and-bull argument” in chapter concerning vegetarian consistency:

http://tiny.cc/levjubfgbn
--
CONSISTENCY MAN: I ask, what would become of the cockerels and bull-calves under a vegetarian régime? At present your supply of milk and eggs is easy enough, because the young males are killed and eaten by us carnivorous sinners. But are you not, to a certain extent, participators in the deed?
VEGETARIAN: Yes, frankly, to a certain extent (a very limited extent) I think we are. We are content to get rid of the worst evils first.
CONSISTENCY MAN: But is one sort of killing worse than another?
VEGETARIAN: Immeasurably worse. Even if it were necessary under the vegetarian system, to destroy some of the calves at birth, as the superfluous young of domestic animals are now destroyed, it would be ridiculous to compare such restricted killing of new-born creatures with the present wholesale butchery of full-grown and highly sentient animals in the slaughter-house.
--

Though reasonably defended, this concern didn’t go away in the vegetarian community, but with horses still used as transportation back then, on practical grounds, Salt couldn’t advocate for a robust non-exploitation of animals.

The practice of a full plant-based diet certainly existed in patches throughout history, mostly among religious sects and to a greater degree in Asia. Among the few who attempted such diets, some did okay, and some did not, probably running into B12 deficiency, not that anyone back then had any knowledge about vitamins yet.

Though variety of interpretation abound, it seems reasonable to track veganism to it’s source, that of the UK Vegan Society. We may as well start in 1944 with the first sentence of the first issue of the founder Donald Watson’s self published Vegan News:

http://tiny.cc/xw6ds
--
“The recent articles and letters in ‘The Vegetarian Messenger’ on the question of the use of dairy produce have revealed very strong evidence to show that the production of these foods involves much cruel exploitation and slaughter of highly sentient life. The excuse that it is not necessary to kill in order to obtain dairy produce is untenable for those with a knowledge of livestock farming methods and of the competition which even humanitarian farmers must face if they are to remain in business.”

“Mr Scott [said] ‘…I have always felt that from the agricultural point of view the vegetarian occupies an illogical position, for just as eggs cannot be produced without killing cockerels, dairy produce cannot be economically got without the co-operation of the butcher.’
--

In that document, the word vegan was coined. Watson died fairly recently (2005), and though less active with the Vegan Society in his later years, it didn’t diverge from his inception. The most definitive definition of veganism can be found with the Vegan Society.

http://tiny.cc/xw6ds
--
“the word "veganism" denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment.

In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”
--

Excluding all animal exploitation is tempered with the clause “as far as is possible and practical,” an acknowledgement that avoiding it entirely isn’t fully feasible. There’s an emphasis on diet, but it’s certainly not confined to food.

Ben P. DaSalt said...

I’d have to assume that article that referenced three separate nutritionist supporting vegan diets must have made a typo. Vitamin D3 is animal derived (usually from lanolin) but D2 is derived from plants and is suitable for vegans. There’s some conjecture about whether D3 or D2 is the better performer in the human body, but vitamin D guru Michael Holick, Phd says that the vitamin D2 ergocalciferol version works just fine.

http://tiny.cc/xupkk
---
“That, to me, proves that vitamin D2 is as effective as vitamin D3 in raising and maintaining 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels. That is consistent with the early literature that showed that 100 IU of vitamin D2 was effective in preventing rickets in children.”
---

Though the linked PDF is a good read, I’m not thrilled with the article source, but Holick’s credibility is sound and more importantly there are studies to back his claims.

As far as vegans need to supplement vitamin D, according to information I’ve read, everyone in Northern latitudes should consider supplementing, especially during the winter.

As for other items you brought up, information can be found in the following UK Vegan Society links:

Wool - http://tiny.cc/pkyz5

Silk - http://tiny.cc/kvukp

Pearls (briefly mentioned in the animal substance list.) -
http://tiny.cc/5pqtao5wo0

While people don’t usually associate vegetarianism outside of food concerns, the Vegetarian Society does make mention of animal derived clothing.

Wool - http://tiny.cc/ywb4x

Silk - http://tiny.cc/fpe8s

Pearls - http://tiny.cc/lde0e

There is no Vegan Gestapo tracking the activities of vegans, it’s up to the individual. Generally, the premise of a full plant-based diet is a given with lesser concern over perhaps unavoidable food additives or incidental production methods. Clothing, furniture, toiletries and cosmetics concerns are pursued by vegans who closely identify with some concept of the objectives of vegansim (they aren’t in it just for notions of health.) Trickier consistency issues, like animal-derived and tested medications, fall under “practical and possible.”

You can get a feel for “practical and possible” exceptions with a Vegan Society’s article on draught animals in the developing world. It’s certainly not as absolutist as veganism is often portrayed as being.
http://tiny.cc/0tu2z

I just want to reiterate that there are many vegan societies and organization that promote veganism and they have a variety of definitions for the practice. There are also plenty of self-described vegans with their own interpretations of what veganism is; it’s not like every vegan is a card-carrying member of some centralized organization.

I don’t mean to insist that other reasons like health, spirituality, or environment are not factors, they have certainly been wrapped up with vegetarianism since antiquity, it’s just that there probably wouldn’t be organized vegetarianism or veganism without the ethical motivation and I really do think that the term plant-based serves as a better description of someone pursuing a health motivated plant centered diet.

I’m not attempting to shame vegans as not being vegan enough, or vegetarians for not being vegan, or non-vegetarians for not being vegetarian; my intention here isn’t to say who’s right or wrong. I just cited and linked to, what historically at least, seems like the best sources of information on the topic.

Bix said...

Ben, you made me think of another form of animal exploitation - bees, to pollinate crops. I don't know what is done to them after they perform their function, though.