Tag: language

Jim Crow and Zip Coon: The Animals in Racial Stereotypes

Jim Crow has become such a familiar term — as in Jim Crow Laws or the Jim Crow South or the Jim Crow Era — that it’s easy to miss the animal — in this case…the crow inside the phrase. How did the crow come to be associated with a repressive system of segregationist laws that hindered and harmed black men and women for decades after the Civil War? What is the story behind this animalogy? Listen to this episode to find out!

Animal-Friendly Gardens: Plants, Flowers, and Trees Named After Animals

The thousands of animal-related words and expressions we have in our English language illustrate how deeply connected we are to animals, and that’s never more apparent than in the names of plants — both the common names and the botanical names. Join me on this fun journey through gardens, fields, and forests as we discover plants, trees, flowers, and fungi named after animals.

Vaccines Are a Bunch of Bull: Animal-Related Words for Diseases and Cures

Animal-Related Words for Diseases and Cures

No, this episode is not about denying the life-saving efficacy of vaccinations; it’s about all the animal-related words we have for diseases and cures, including the word VACCINE, which comes from the Latin word for a cow or bull. It’s just another example of how how deeply rooted animals are in our consciousness, in our history, and in our lives — for better and for worse.

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I’M A TED SPEAKER!⁠

We all have goals, we all have dreams. Presenting a talk on the TED / TEDx stage has been one of mine.

It’s certainly not the end-all / be-all to be chosen to speak at a TEDx event, but it has been a goal. Why? Because I do think I have an idea worth spreading — namely that:

??Animals are here for their own purposes and not for our use. Animals have intrinsic value; they are not here to be our entertainment, our food, our test subjects, or our shooting targets. We are part of their community, and they are part of ours as residents, as co-inhabitants, as contributors, as members—not as outsiders, objects, or intruders. My idea worth spreading is compassion. ?

Many people have asked me over the years why I haven’t been on the TED stage, and the answer is simply because I haven’t been accepted. I’ve submitted various applications to various TEDx events over the years, and I was rejected each time.

☄️It could have been that my topic wasn’t the right fit for that event’s theme.
☄️It could have been that I didn’t write a good enough summary of my idea.
☄️It could be that my ideas are bunk!

Who knows? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I’ve been selected as a speaker for TEDx Dupree Park in Woodstock, Georgia on May 15th, 2020.

As I have more to share, I will, but I thought you’d like to hear the good news. Now, wish me luck. I’m terrified! (Be careful what you wish for! You just might get it!)

P.S. For those who live in the Atlanta area, I believe the event is by invitation only (it’s small), but I’m planning on putting together some kind of bookstore event in the area. Stay tuned, and make sure you’re on the mailing list. 

Words Change, Meanings Evolve, but Meat and Milk Companies Think Customers are Stupid

You’ve probably heard by now that France banned the use of meat-like terms in packaging for vegetarian food. Yes, that’s right. “Food producers in France,” as reported by the Independent, “will be forced to think of new ways to describe some of their vegetarian and vegan foods when they are banned from using terms such as ‘vegetarian sausages and ‘vegan bacon.’ French MPs have voted to outlaw use of such vocabulary, claiming they mislead shoppers.

Firms will no longer be able to use ‘burger,’  ‘steak’, ‘sausage’ or ‘fillet’ to describe foods that have no meat in them, such as ‘ham’ slices or ‘chicken’ pies that are made of soya or wheat. The ban on such vocabulary will also apply to dairy alternatives.”

I recently shared my response to the Economist magazine’s article about “The Vegetarian Butcher,” Jaap Korteweg, a ninth-generation farmer who wants “to become the biggest butcher in the world without ever slaughtering an animal.” As a result, some Dutch politicians called for a ban on meat names for products that contained no animal protein, and “the country’s food authority asked The Vegetarian Butcher to rename misleading products...because it might confuse consumers.

Dutch media termed the episode ‘Schnitzelgate’ after a similar situation in Germany, whose minister for agriculture said that ‘meaty names’ such as ‘schnitzel’ and ‘wurst’ should only be legal for animal-based products.”

And of course we’re familiar with such shenanigans in the United States as the dairy lobby uses the Dairy Pride Act to try and outlaw the use of such words as “milk,” “ice cream,” “butter,” and “yogurt” from products made from non-dairy sources. I’d like to see them tell a lactating woman she has to refer to her “breast beverage” because the dairy industry “owns” the word milk or that peanut butter companies have to devise a new name for this favorite food.

The movement toward banning “meat,” “milk,” and other descriptors from plant-based versions simply demonstrates how threatened companies and governments are by the success of these products. Instead of hopping on the cruelty-free bandwagon, they’re attempting to hinder their growth in the marketplace. (It won’t work.)

Meanings evolve, words change, context matters, and consumers aren’t stupid. They know a veggie version from an animal-based one and in fact, they’re choosing the former over the latter precisely because it’s animal-free. No one who orders a veggie burger, drinks almond milk, or eats cashew cheese is being duped. But associations with the names of familiar animal-based meats and milks help create their gustatory expectations.

More than that, the etymology of these words reveal that they have less to do with the animals than we think: schnitzel comes from a Proto-Germanic root meaning “to cut, slice”; wurst comes from a Proto-Germanic root meaning “to mix up”; sausage comes from the Latin word for “salted”; in English, the original meaning of word meat was “food in general” — and we still use that meaning today in sweetmeat, coconut meat, and the meat of a nut.

The word underwent the same evolution in French. The word viande (“meat”) also originally meant food in general — not simply the flesh of animals for consumption. That word became narrowed over time, but its root vivere remains, meaning “to live.” In its current usage referring to a dismembered body part of a dead animal, however, viande certainly represents anything but life.

Language is not simply a means of communication. It represents and reinforces the attitudes of our culture; it informs and gives social credit to our thoughts, rhetoric, and actions; and it masks, justifies, or dulls our ethical red flags. In fact, I would argue that the words the meat, dairy, and egg industries currently rely on to market and sell their products are really the ones that dupe consumers. The euphemisms they use to hock their wares disguise the violence inherent in bringing animals into this world only to kill them. Even the very use of the words pork, bacon, poultry, beef, burger, and steak conceals the presence of the once-living animals.

Perhaps instead of banning such qualifiers as “veggie,” “vegetarian,” and “vegan,” they should add “pig,” “piglet,” “sow,” “cow,” “calf,” “steer,” “bird,” or even “animal” as qualifiers on their own products. “Cashew milk” could then compete fairly with “calf’s milk,” and “veggie burger” would be on the same playing field as “cow burger.” 

If they’re really so worried about “duping” or “confusing consumers,” they would stop referring to their production practices in euphemistic terms. The egg and chicken industries would stop referring to the burning or cutting off of the tips of birds’ beaks without anaesthesia as “beak conditioning.” They would stop referring to the amputation of the tips of birds’ toes without anaesthesia as “toe clipping” or “toe conditioning.” The dairy industry would stop calling  the cutting off of cows’ tails without anesthesia “tail trimming.” The pork industry would stop referring to the pens they confine pregnant pigs in as “maternity pens” or “individual gestation accommodations.” And instead of referring to their practice of killing piglets by slamming their heads against floors or walls, as “blunt force trauma,” they would call it what it is. 

The animal exploitation industries and the politicians who rely on the deep pockets of the animal agriculture industry know that words matter, which is precisely why they work so hard to conceal the reality of their practices and products from the public. 

The attempt to control the words used by plant-based companies — words that are already part of the public’s vernacular — is a desperate and short-sighted ploy to save a dying paradigm. Animal-based meat, dairy, and egg companies are fighting a losing battle and missing a golden opportunity to  give customers what they want: animal-free versions that provide the fat, salt, flavor, familiarity, and texture without the cruelty. 

Instead of trying to change words, they could be part of changing the future.

__________________________

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau is an author, speaker, podcaster, and host of Animalogy, a podcast about the animal-related words and expressions we use every day

(Listen to the numerous podcast episodes I have on the naming of meats and milks as well as the word “butcher.” Some are part of Animalogy podcast; some are part of Food for Thought.)

Our Vegan Welcome Feast in Hanoi

With our CPG Vegan Trips group not arriving until evening, David, Seb and I had time to lunch at Minh Chay, a vegan restaurant restaurant with two locations). The food was absolutely delicious, but I was so hungry I didn’t even take any photos!

However, the best part about this lunch was that it was my first time trying Pho. Pho [pronounced fuh] is a traditional Vietnamese rice noodle soup made with animal-based broth, meat, and vegetables. It’s served with a plate of aromatic fresh herbs to add as you please, and you can also add garlic vinegar or chili paste for a little kick. In Vietnam, pho is served as a breakfast item, and traditional Vietnamese restaurants don’t serve it for lunch or dinner; however, in a less traditional or vegan restaurant, pho is on every menu.

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It may sound ridiculous that I’ve never tried pho, even though I love southeast Asian food, live in an area with an abundance of Vietnamese restaurants, and live in a city with the best vegan Vietnamese restaurant (Golden Lotus), but because I don’t tend to gravitate toward noodle dishes, I never had an interest in trying it. Well, those days are over! I can’t wait to find great pho options in restaurants near me in the San Francisco Bay area.

The other exciting thing about this lunch was that I learned my first Vietnamese phrase: “No cilantro.” Because you know. Ewwww. (And for fellow cilantro-haters, it’s không rau mùi.)

By evening all of our travelers with our travelers had arrived and we met for welcome drinks, then headed off to our welcome dinner, which was a feast at Uu Dam Chay. Chay is the Vietnamese word that means “non-meat” or “meatless,” both as a noun and an adjective. Consuming chay food doesn’t refer to vegan dishes necessarily, but it means refraining from the acts of killing of animal lives for food or otherwise. Buddhists have long observed chay eating to adhere to the principles of non-violence or “ahimsa.” Most Asian countries are familiar with this term and will understand when you say “chay”; i.e.: you don’t want meat, dairy or fish in your dish (travel tip!).

On our way to dinner, we arranged for each of our travelers to enjoy a 45-minute cyclo tour of Hanoi. Along the way, we surprised them with champagne and vegan cheese and crackers while they were cycled through the frenetic streets of Hanoi. There’s no way to describe what appears to be mayhem on the crowded streets of Hanoi. Crossing the street seems like a suicide mission at first, with motorbikes, cars, cyclists, and cyclos coming in all directions. But once you surrender and trust, I found it to be very much like a chaotic but beautiful dance. I’m someone that tends to get stressed in situations where there is a lot if stimuli like loud noises, honking horns, and crowds of people, but there was something about Hanoi’s energy that didn’t bother me — dare I say…enjoyed!

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We arrived at the absolutely gorgeous multi-level restaurant, Uu Dam Chay. It has a vegetarian menu but they prepared vegan dishes for us. Our CPG Vegan Trip Welcome Feasts are the epitome of abundance and joy where our travelers have their first experience with everyone they will be spending time with over the next several days.

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After several hours of eating and drinking, we walked back to our hotel and rested for our next day’s adventure!

Food Waste (Part 1): How Animal Products Hinder Zero Waste Goals

We can’t talk about Zero Waste living without talking about the big picture: the amount of food that gets wasted at the front end of the food chain: during production, harvest, and processing. And we can’t talk about Zero Waste living unless we face the fact that the highest food losses are associated with livestock production. Listen to Part One to find out how there is nothing Zero Waste about garbage. (The original meaning of the word garbage had to do with “the bowels and body parts of a butchered animal considered inedible by humans — the offal.”) Enjoy!

In Part Two, we’ll talk about the food WASTE that occurs toward the back end of the food chain — at the retail and consumer levels — and what we can do about it.

Spend the Weekend with Me!

Back by popular demand: The Compassion in Action Conference! Register early to receive perks, including:

  • bring a friend for 50% off 
  • videos of all presentations
  • 30-minute conference call with speakers 
  • 20% discount to Millennium Restaurant 

The intention behind Compassion-in-Action is to connect like-minded people with each other and to give you the tools and resources you need to reflect your deepest values in your daily behavior so that we can create the compassionate world we all envision — for all animals, both human and non-human. 

Through lectures, Q&A sessions, and group work, we will address such topics as:

  • Powerful Ways to Advocate for Animals
  • How to Practice Self-Compassion
  • 10 Habits of Highly Effective Advocates
  • From Personal to Professional Advocacy
  • Choosing Unconditional Compassion
  • The Principles of Zero Waste 

By the end of this weekend together, not only will you have connected with dozens of incredible like-minded people and connected with your deepest, most authentic compassion, you will also have tools for living purposefully, boldly, passionately, and compassionately — in a way that is both effective and joyful.

Our presenters are the best, and I’ll be sharing more with you about them. In the meantime, I hope you will begin following Kathryn Kellogg of Going Zero Waste, Stephanie Redcross of Vegan Mainstream, and Ari Nessel of The Pollination Project. Register today!

     

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