Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Meaning of Strict

Today I was listening to Emril Lagasse's Emril Green, a green cooking show on Planet Green.  Because it's simply background noise as I sit here typing, communing and working, I miss a lot of what's happening.  But in the episode I was listening to I heard the words strict vegetarian.  I was intrigued because I was curious to know what the hell Emril was going to make for this "strict vegetarian."  As it turns out, although she and her mother consider her to be a strict vegetarian, she's not.  She eats seafood.   So to be pricise, then, she's a pesco-vegetarian.  So my question is this.  What is the meaning of strict vegetarian?

Yes, this is a blog about veganism.  So my contention is that she is not a strict vegetarian or for that matter a vegetarian.  But then I thought about vegetarianism as a concept.  Although there is debate, especially from vegans, about the kinds of vegetarianism--vegans would say that there is only one--I decided to examine these definitions.

The following is a list of the commonly known types of vegetarianism:
  1. Vegetarian
  2. Pesco-Vegetarian (or pescetarian)
  3. Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian and these variants:
    1. Ovo Vegetarian
    2. Lacto Vegetarian
  4. Strict Vegetarian
  5. Vegan
Now we could state that there is no difference between a strict vegetarian and a vegan, but I make the distinction by describing a strict vegetarian as someone who consumes nothing whatsoever from an animal, and by consume I mean eat and drink.  This does not preclude wearing (or using in some other way than eating and drinking) things made from animals.  I don't actually know anyone in this category or if this is even a category of vegetarianism.

And of course we know that a vegan is a strict vegetarian is one that eschews anything made from animals, whether it be for health reasons and/or moral reasons.  Of course one could argue that a vegan for health reasons only is not a vegan, but rather simply a strict vegetarian.

So the point of all of this is that when one is describing herself as a vegetarian, she should qualify this so that we can be clear and then decide for ourselves whether her assertion is true or false given whatever meaning of vegetarian you choose.

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