John Lockwood

Unboxing a Mind

Bad Vegans, Good Vegetarians

Back when I was eating more vegetarian meals but still backsliding into the more than occasional hamburger, I tried to do the right thing by admitting I was a bad vegetarian. In retrospect I was no such thing. I was not a vegetarian at all. What I really was was an omnivore who was experimenting with portions.

Now that I’m a bad vegan (more on this below), I’ve been wondering why vegans have to call themselves vegans, since it seems to me that what we are is really vegetarians. It’s weird to me that people who eat only plants should need a word other than “vegetarian” to describe themselves, since vegetarian is a perfectly good word. So I did most of us do when we’re wondering something: I Googled it.

It turns out that the folks who coined the word vegan did so knowing that a bunch of people calling themselves vegetarians also drank milk and or eggs, neither one of which is a vegetable. So to distinguish themselves from those who were lying about eating vegetables, they made up a new word, vegan, which meant (according to the reference you visit), an “extreme vegetarian” or an “orthodox vegetarian”.

I also recently found out that vegans aren’t supposed to wear leather or wool, which is what makes me a bad vegan, since I still have all kinds of leather shoes and belts. Given the difficulty I already have in finding the right-sized shoes, I don’t think I could stand the snickering that ensue if I start asking “Do you have that in a wide width vegan model”?

So after all that time being a bad vegetarian, now that I’m a really good vegetarian, I’ve discovered that my leather shoes makes me a bad vegan.

I enjoy eating a lot more than trying to figure out what kind of eater I am. If I’m a vegan, I’ll end up barefoot, and if I’m a vegetarian, I’ll have to put up with people who say silly things like, “me too, but I eat chicken”.

If only food choices had a closet, like sexuality, we wouldn’t be in this mess. You’d find me inside with the door locked.