Skip to main content

Tag: language

How to Talk to Strangers: A Masterclass in Conversations and Communication

Do you want to be right or do you want to be effective?

People are open. People are curious. People want to learn. They want to know. Every time I talk with strangers, that’s what I find. Every time I walk away from those conversations, that’s what I feel. Hope. Compassion. Connection. But you wouldn’t know this unless you engage, talk, listen, interact. Show up.

I’m asked so often how to talk about being vegan, how to be a voice for animals. What to say? How to say it? When to respond? How to respond? How to remain calm? How to remain joyful? How to be effective? Today is a 2-hour Masterclass in Communication and Conversation based on recent interactions I’ve had. 

I also share what I think is one of the greatest dangers of our time, and it’s related to communication, so tuck in, pour yourself a cuppa, and get comfy, because we’ve got a lot to cover in today’s episode. 



Nama JuicerUse this link and coupon code COLLEEN10 and get 10% off my favorite juicer.
Plaine ProductsUse this link and coupon code “compassion” for 15% off my favorite zero waste bath and body products.
ComplementUse this link and coupon code “joyfulvegan” and get 10% off my favorite supplements.

Thank you for listening.

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!

A List of 100 Podcast Episodes I Recommend

2020 was the 14th anniversary of the Food for Thought podcast, and while I’m a podcast creator, I’m also a podcast listener. And this year, I listened to 100 podcast episodes! You may (or may not) be surprised to know that the ones I listen to most frequently are those focused on history and language. Aside from relishing the variety of topics within these categories, it’s also how I discover facts that relate to my own work related to animal protection, food, and language.

You can see (below) a list of the podcasts and their many episodes I listened to this past year, and you might be asking how I find the time. I usually listen to an episode each morning while I’m getting dressed — doing my hair, doing my makeup — and getting my morning tea before I sit down to write. 

Also, when I’m not reading or writing, I’m usually walking, hiking, cooking, or gardening, and I usually play podcasts instead of listening to music. What about you?

List of Podcasts and their Episodes

Here are the lists of my favorite podcasts and the episodes I listened to. (I’ve listened to fewer of the language podcasts this year, so I didn’t parse out those episodes.)

History Extra
Episodes, released every week, feature interviews with notable historians on topics spanning ancient history through to recent British to American events. Episodes feature history stories and perspectives on everything from crusading knights to Tudor monarchs and the D-Day landings.

In Our Time
In Our Time Podcast. Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of ideas. Updated: weekly. 

The History of English
A chronological history of the English language examined through the lens of historical events that shaped the development and spread of the language from the Eurasian steppe to the entire world.

Lexicon Valley
A show about language, from pet peeves, syntax, and etymology to neurolinguistics and the death of languages. Hosted by linguist John McWhorter.

A Way With Words
Public radio’s program about words, language, and how we use them. Hosts answer callers questions about grammar, slang, usage, old family sayings, new words, language-learning, idioms, riddles, word games, or anything else related to language.

Practicing Human
A daily podcast hosted by Cory Muscara, offering insights and practices into how to live a fulfilling life. Cory pulls on his time living as a Buddhist monk in Burma, his many years as a mindfulness and meditation teacher, and his work in Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.


  • Cave Art
  • Pericles
  • The Great Irish Famine
  • Macbeth
  • Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
  • Coffee
  • The Highland Clearances
  • The Mexican-American War
  • William Morris
  • The Iliad
  • Thucydides
  • The Mytilenaean Debate
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Is Shakespeare History? The Romans
  • Nero
  • President Ulysses S. Grant
  • Alexander the Great
  • Frankenstein
  • The Battle of Salamis
  • The Evolution of Horses
  • Albrecht Dürer
  • Catullus
  • Mary Astell


  • The Wars of the Roses: Everything you wanted to know
  • A WW2 story of survival
  • Editor’s Pick: Ron Chernow on Alexander Hamilton
  • Christmas ghost stories
  • Christmas: Everything you wanted to know
  • Ten Things to do with a medieval donkey – history extra
  • Japan and the west
  • Magna Carta: everything you wanted to know
  • The Glorious Revolution: everything you wanted to know
  • Tudor queens on screen
  • Unexpected Irish Tales
  • Ancient Babylon: everything you wanted to know
  • Women in Greek myths
  • 2020: The historians’ verdict
  • Germans who resisted the Nazis
  • Shakespeare: everything you wanted to know
  • Everything you wanted to know about the East India Company 
  • Oswald, the many-headed medieval saint
  • The White Ship: a medieval tragedy
  • Medical history: everything you wanted to know
  • The Wild West: everything you wanted to know
  • Viking warrior women and the ethics of excavating the dead
  • War and society: a tangled relationship
  • Ingenious medieval science
  • Women in black: the surprising history of widows
  • Personal stories of the Second World War
  • Inside the Viking mind
  • The Russian revolution: everything you wanted to know
  • The ‘ordinary’ Nazi
  • The Regency era: everything you wanted to know
  • An Atlantic slave war
  • Enslaved women and resistance
  • At sea with the Vikings
  • Moving, medieval style
  • The French Revolution: everything you wanted to know
  • The dispossession of Native Americans
  • Ghosts of Viking London
  • An Anglo-Saxon warlord
  • Ancient wisdom with Neil Oliver
  • Everything you wanted to know about medieval daily life
  • Sparta
  • Should I stay or should I go: the problem with historical monuments in 2020
  • Everything you wanted to know about the history of Japan
  • The Spanish Flu epidemic
  • Everything you wanted to know about Roman Britain but were afraid to ask
  • Medieval rebellions
  • Viking genes unravelled
  • JFK: the path to power
  • The Mayflower
  • Scythians: Warrior Nomads of the Steppe
  • The problems with the Anglo Saxons
  • Isabel Wilkerson on caste in America
  • Everything you ever wanted to know about the legends of King Arthur
  • Crusaders: An Epic History of the Wars for the Holy Lands
  • Everything you ever wanted to know about the Hundred Years’ War
  • Edward the Confessor
  • Revisiting the Kindertransport
  • Everything you ever wanted to know about the Aztecs
  • The story of the Freemasons
  • Africa’s cultural liberation
  • The history of seduction
  • Could D-Day have failed
  • The women killed by Jack the Ripper
  • Rethinking the crusades
  • What’s in a medieval name?
  • Everything you ever wanted to know about the American Civil War
  • Peter Frankopan on global history in 2020
  • Everything you ever wanted to know about the Ancient Greece
  • Stonehenge: History’s Greatest Mysteries
  • The fate of Jesus’ body: History’s Greatest Mysteries
  • Unburied treasures
  • African American abolitionists in Britain
  • Everything you ever wanted to know about the Cuban Missile Crisis
  • A history of magic
  • Everything you ever wanted to know about medieval queens
  • At home with the medieval aristocracy
  • Lionheart of stone: the medieval statue debate
  • The Abdication crisis
  • Nero: Rome’s Antichrist?
  • The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles
  • Museums and colonialism
  • Everything you ever wanted to know about the Georgians
  • Everything you ever wanted to know about the Scottish Wars of Independence
  • California’s century of change
  • Women and the Crusades
  • William and Cnut: a tale of two conquerors
  • World War Two: the challenge of commemoration
  • A history of pandemics: from Spanish Flu to Covid-19
  • From Allies to enemies
  • The Auschwitz volunteer
  • Why black hair matters
  • Working mothers
  • Henry III: inside the mind of a medieval king
  • Indian soldiers at Dunkirk
  • Medieval prisoners of war
  • Living on the edge in Victorian Britain
  • Everything you ever wanted to know about the English Reformation
  • The Corn Laws crisis
  • A new view of Africa’s past
  • Everything you ever wanted to know about D-Day but were afraid to ask
  • Everything you ever wanted to know about the Tudors
  • A history of celebrity
  • Blitz spirit
  • News in the Middle Ages
  • Resistance in the British empire
  • Food and war
  • Burglary: a modern history
  • The bombing of Dresden

What are the best podcast episodes you listened to this year?


ANIMALOGY: Change Your Language. Change the World.

I worked on this talk for years, and I’m thrilled it’s finally available for public viewing. The live TEDx event was cancelled because of Covid, but it was moved to a virtual event, which is where I presented my talk, called: ANIMALOGY: Change Your Language. Change the World.

I hope you enjoy it.

In it, I introduce the concept of animalogies, the animal-related words and phrases we use on a daily basis, and explore what they say about our perception of and treatment of animals. And I argue that they say A LOT.

So, whether you’re a lover of language or a lover of animals — or history, literature, anthropology, sociology, or all of the above — my hope is that this talk will inspire a conversation about our treatment of and regard for non-human animals. 

For the animals, thank you for watching my TEDx talk, and please share it!

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.


Nama Juicer — Use this link and coupon code COLLEEN10 and get 10% off my favorite juicer.

Plaine Products — Use this link and coupon code “compassion” for 15% off my favorite zero waste bath and body products.

Complement — Use this link and coupon code “joyfulvegan” and get 10% off my favorite supplements.

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.

Thanks to supporters, Food for Thought is a 100% listener supported podcast. Become a supporter today.


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.)