"I'm a vegetarian, but I eat fish" - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 117 Old 04-27-2007, 10:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I hate hearing this! A girl I work with was telling me today that 9 of her mom's 12 coworkers are vegetarians, but they do eat fish because they're Catholic and it's not considered a meat. I told her they're not vegetarians then and she insisted that they are.

I've even heard some people claim to be vegetarian who eat chicken AND fish. You're NOT a vegetarian, you just don't eat red meat. Read the dictionary, people!

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veg·e·tar·i·an [vej-i-tair-ee-uhn]
–noun 1. a person who does not eat or does not believe in eating meat, fish, fowl, or, in some cases, any food derived from animals, as eggs or cheese, but subsists on vegetables, fruits, nuts, grain, etc.
–adjective
2. of or pertaining to vegetarianism or vegetarians.
3. devoted to or advocating this practice.
4. consisting solely of vegetables: vegetarian vegetable soup.

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#2 of 117 Old 04-27-2007, 10:39 AM
 
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It drives me nuts.

I've had to train dh to say that he "eats a mostly vegetarian diet." He eats veggie at home and most of the time out in public or at other people's homes, but he is not a vegetarian. I finally convinced him to rephrase it so that he doesn't confuse people, because the kiddos and I are vegetarians, and I don't want to have to defend that we don't eat meat. Nope, not even fish or chicken. No, not even a little. No chicken broth either. Nope, not shrimp...
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#3 of 117 Old 04-27-2007, 10:14 PM
 
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Yeah - it kind of makes me buggy too. I mean, it is fine to make whatever diet choices you make. I make different choices. But - a vegetarian doesn't eat FISH (or chicken, pigs, or cows, either). I just do not understand why someone would call themselves vegetarian when they aren't. Is it cool? Does it seem hip?

We are vegetarian and often get responses as if we have three heads if we happen to mention it.

Side story - worked with someone who said he was vegetarian when he started to work in my department. I thought that was cool - as not too many people are vegetarian. So, what did he eat for lunch everyday in the cafeteria? CHICKEN! People who he had over for dinner said he made some pasta sauce with BACON. It ended up being a joke to the entire department that he said he was vegetarian but ate all animals.
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#4 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 12:00 AM
 
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One of dh's coworkers at a X-mas party a few years back was all excited to meet me b/c he was "vegan," like me. However, once he started asking me questions regarding why I wasn't eating any of the appetizers, he was shocked that I didn't eat dairy, eggs, fish, or chicken. Turns out the only animal product he didn't eat was beef .
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#5 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 12:42 AM
 
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UGH! :

At my last job, my boss said she was a vegetarian- who ate fish. She seriously ruined it for the rest of us "real" vegetarians. It never failed, at every-single company luncheon, they would order fish for the vegetarian, and every single time I had to tell them, "vegetarians don't really eat fish. Tiffany is a fishatarian, since fish aren't vegetables." Then I would add, "If it has eyeballs and a brain, I don't eat it."

They didn't do this once or twice.. EVERYTIME they ordered or made food for the luncheon they did the same thing.

Also.. it never fails.. I tell people I am a vegetarian, and most of the time they say, "Oh, do you eat fish?" :

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#6 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 01:10 AM
 
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It drives me batty! :

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Originally Posted by LizzyQ View Post
UGH! :
Also.. it never fails.. I tell people I am a vegetarian, and most of the time they say, "Oh, do you eat fish?" :
I have a friend who says she is vegetarian, even though she eats fish. I have heard people ask her, "Do you eat fish?" and she always replies, "Oh, yes, we eat fish," with a tone that says, "OF COURSE I EAT FISH!" It is really strange. I always want to jump in and explain that vegetarians don't actually eat fish, but that might be rude.

I guess I don't really care what labels other people give themselves, but it does affect me and a round-about way when I go to someone's house for dinner and they've made me fish, because their friend's cousin's neighbour is a vegetarian and she eats fish. :

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#7 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 01:15 AM
 
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yes, i hate when i tell people i have been a vegetarian for 15 years, and they say "how do you get protein...do you eat chicken and fish?"

.....

um, no, last time i checked, both of those foods came from cut-up dead animals.....:
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#8 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 01:16 AM
 
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There is a shirt on cafepress.com that says: Yes I am a vegetarian and NO I don't eat fish.

I want to make one that says: Fish: unless they grow on trees or in the ground they aren't vegetarian.

That is the one thing that drives DH and I nuts. We went out to dinner with some friends recently and they thought we ate fish (DH did prior to me joining him where he was...he went ahead for business) and thought we were weird for double checking that the soup we ordered wasn't beef based.

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#9 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 01:23 AM
 
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That drives me crazy, and I'm not even a vegetarian. And when I make a vegetarian dish, I specify if it has an animal product in it like milk or egg since I know some vegetarians won't eat those. I don't tend to think of it as being a truly vegetarian dish unless it has no animal protein in it at all.
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#10 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 01:34 AM
 
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As a college student, I did a project for a cultural anthropology class where I had to interview people about being in some group or another and document, anecdotally, their perceptions of belonging in the group. This came through hours of interviews. I chose vegetarians as I was dabbling in that at the time and had a large group at my immediate disposal. My results showed that people define the term very personally based on the reasons they chose to become a vegetarian in the first place. If they object to the idea of subjucating all animals for human use, they may call themselves vegans and truly avoid any and all animal products, even honey. If they object to the industrialization of the meat and dairy industries, they may call themselves a veggie but still eat fish if it is line caught or if they caught it themselves. If they don't want the animal to die for them to eat, they may call themselves lacto-ovo veggies and eat eggs and dairy. Some vegetarians will eat meat they catch themselves, like through fishing or hunting, but will not buy meat because they have safety or health concerns.

There are many ways to be a vegetarian, just like there are many ways to be a christian. Vegetarianism is a belief system for many and therefore not something easily defined or easily analyzed under public scrutiny. So, don't get offended if somone's definition does not fit your own.
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#11 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 08:56 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yellowpansy View Post
There are many ways to be a vegetarian, just like there are many ways to be a christian. Vegetarianism is a belief system for many and therefore not something easily defined or easily analyzed under public scrutiny. So, don't get offended if somone's definition does not fit your own.
Sorry, I don't agree with this. The labels vegetarian and vegan have set definitions, and if you don't fit the definition, don't call yourself one. It makes life difficult for those of us who DO actually abstain from all flesh and/or animal products.
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#12 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 10:37 AM
 
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I can see being put off or upset by being served fish with out regard, but I do not get to worried if people ask if I eat. It is an opportunity educate them what a vegetarian eats. Also, there are a couple easily understandable terms that apply to those that eat fish that differentiate them from veg*ns. They are pescatarians and pesco-vegetarians. Pesco is the Latin word for fish, just as ovo is egg and lacto is milk. I guess I have been lucky with fish because most people ask before actually serving.
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#13 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 11:20 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yellowpansy View Post
Some vegetarians will eat meat they catch themselves, like through fishing or hunting, but will not buy meat because they have safety or health concerns.
There are many ways to be a vegetarian, just like there are many ways to be a christian.
I'm sorry, but I also disagree with this statement. Yes, there are various types of vegetarians just like there are various denominations of Christianity. However, certain things are presupposed. As a Christian, you can be Catholic, Protestant, etc., but you must believe in Jesus Christ as the savior, if I understand correctly. If you claim yourself as a Christian who believes that there is no God the creator and no life after death, then you really aren't Christian, just someone who misunderstands the term.

Vegetarian, by dictionary definition is an "eater of fruits and grains and nuts; someone who eats no meat or fish or (often) any animal products." This does leave room for honey, dairy, and/or eggs. It doesn't not leave room for hunting and eating meat, but not eating meat purchased at the grocery store.
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#14 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 12:51 PM
 
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I encounter this all the time too. I am no longer vegetarian but I always bring vegetarian dishes to potlucks - usually becasue I prefer them and to give a healthier option than what is usually brought to potlucks. I can't tell you how often people are surprised to find that my vegetarian dish has no chicken, eggs or dairy in it.

Then again, I live in a rural area with a lot of farmers who raise cattle for beef, and to many of them a vegetarian meal is anything that doesn't include a slab of beef!

Thank goodness potlucks are an option.
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#15 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 01:43 PM
 
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I've been known to say I'm vegan in order to ensure there's food I can eat. In some groups, vegan is better understood than "I can't eat dairy", which usually results in "Oh, but I only used half a cup of milk in it!" :

(The reality being 75% raw vegan, 99% ovo-pescetarian, 1% whatever, with dairy being the only thing I truly avoid entirely due to nursing DD's sensitivity.)

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#16 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 02:38 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yellowpansy View Post
There are many ways to be a vegetarian, just like there are many ways to be a christian. Vegetarianism is a belief system for many and therefore not something easily defined or easily analyzed under public scrutiny. So, don't get offended if somone's definition does not fit your own.
I don't think there are many ways to be a vegetarian, and I think it is natural to feel offended because that is the way people defend and protect the meaning of their belief. I may be in the minority here, but I don't think self-identifying always works. You can claim to be a member of a certain group because of perceived benefits, but it doesn't mean it is a fact. It's like people saying they are not racist, but then actively engaging in racial discrimination. This dichotomy in their practice vs. the belief they espouse erodes the sanctity of the belief and does a disservice to those who work against racism.

Dietary beliefs can be a lot like religious ones, but saying vegetarianism is like Christianity just doesn't work because of the long and complicated history and doctrine of religions such as Christianity. Vegetarianism is a practice based on certain beliefs and while the beliefs surrounding may be varied and complicated, the central action should be fairly well-defined. Even with Christianity you can argue that while there are so many different actions you can do or not do that might define you, there is one central action that defines all practitioners--a belief in Jesus Christ as the savior. I'm sure there are those who call themselves Christians, but if they don't believe in Christ let alone believe in God, they are just claiming an identity that doesn't match with the very basic definition. But if there is to be any meaning or purpose at all in their decision, it would seem to come in the discussion of the ideas and why they are choosing to do what they do (or not to do what they don't want to do). Just blithely accepting them at face value seems useless.

So too, I think the same with vegetarianism. Various forms of vegetarianism have deep roots, especially in a number of religions or cultural practices, but vegetarianism as a political movement defined by uniting those who eschewed animal flesh is fairly recent. If people say, "Oh yes, I'm a vegetarian who eats meat" no one is served if there is at least not a discussion and a laying out of terms. Someone can say that in her religious, vegetarianism is defined a certain way, but I definitely can see another vegetarian arguing against the appropriation of terms like vegetarian and vegan which were coined in the 19th century, from my understanding, and used with deliberate intent. I think vegetarians have a right and a duty to protect their beliefs just like other groups do. I had a friend who actually used to get irritated with vegetarians because of the history of practices within certain parts of Christianity to fast from animal flesh and all animal products during certain times in the liturgical calendar (like Lent). He felt like modern vegetarianism detracted from the greater meaning of fasting from meat for reasons of purity or a higher spiritual purpose. So I guess in one sense he felt like the vegetarian movement was too far removed from all the reasons human beings have had for avoiding animal flesh, but I felt like the modern vegetarian movement is something that stands on its own, apart from a particular religion's dietary practices and customs. So I certainly think vegetarians can and should discuss all of this when someone claims to be a fellow practitioner.
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#17 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 02:43 PM
 
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I remember once after college I was working in a small-town and a co-worker found out I was vegetarian. Turns out his girlfriend was vegetarian so he wanted to know where he could take her to eat when she came to town to visit him. So I am giving him suggestions for the (few) places in this town that had a decent veg meal, and it comes out she eats fish. :
I was thinking, what's the point of asking where to take her, they serve fish at McDonald's!

My DH's cousins are both "vegetarian" fish-eaters. The last time I saw them they were talking about how they have been "veg" since the 1980's and how hard it was to find veg things to eat then. Huh? Couldn't they have just gone to Long John Silver's if they ate fish? I don't get it.

My response when a "vegetarian" tells me they eat fish is to say very sweetly "Well, that's a good start then." Kind of gets the message across that they aren't there yet, but still tries to sound supportive for them to go the extra mile. And yes, it is kind of snarky.

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#18 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 03:51 PM
 
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Everytime I get involved in this conversation I hear Kurt sweetly singing in my ear. . ."It's ok to eat fish 'cause they don't have any feelings. . ."

Back to your regularly scheduled conversation. . .
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#19 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 04:19 PM
 
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There is no shame in being a pescetarian, at least you are doing something but call it what it is.

When we went vegan my mom was like "are you going to eat gelatin?" lol she's funny, I've had to tell her that we didn't maybe forty times already, and we've only been vegan for a year.
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#20 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 06:09 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OtherMother'n'Madre View Post
I want to make one that says: Fish: unless they grow on trees or in the ground they aren't vegetarian.
But then again, diary, eggs and honey aren't vegetation either. I wish we had clearer definitions so we wouldn't have to explain ourselves all the time :

Let's see, here's how it goes in my head:

lacto- dairy
ovo- eggs
pesco- fish
polo- chicken
vegan- no animal products at all, including non-dietary items
strict vegetarian- no animal products in diet only, except possibly bee products

so if you're- 'vegan except for cheese', you're lacto veg
'vegan who wears leather', you're strict veg
'veg who eats fish', you're pescetarian (sp?)
and so on
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#21 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 06:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by somanythings View Post
Everytime I get involved in this conversation I hear Kurt sweetly singing in my ear. . ."It's ok to eat fish 'cause they don't have any feelings. . ."

Back to your regularly scheduled conversation. . .
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#22 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 06:20 PM
 
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I'm pesco-vegetarian and I can't tell you the number of times I've been lambasted for eating fish by a self-proclaimed vegan wearing leather shoes, belt, purse, wallet, and coat. Labels are a funny thing.
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#23 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 06:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by earthmama369 View Post
I'm pesco-vegetarian and I can't tell you the number of times I've been lambasted for eating fish by a self-proclaimed vegan wearing leather shoes, belt, purse, wallet, and coat. Labels are a funny thing.
My sister in law and her fiance eat honey and use animal products and call themselves vegan (even with the vegan jewellery and bumper stickers!) while my husband and I do not use any animal products. Try explaining to my poor mother in law why I'm not putting on the angora socks she bought us all to wear and match!
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#24 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 06:34 PM
 
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we call them "vegaquarians" :
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#25 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 06:37 PM
 
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For the looooooongest time my SIL would ask every time I was invited over for dinner, "You eat chicken, right?" Knowing I was a vegetarian, but somehow she thought that meant I still ate meat!

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#26 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 06:40 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OtherMother'n'Madre View Post
There is a shirt on cafepress.com that says: Yes I am a vegetarian and NO I don't eat fish.
I need that shirt! I actually have a shirt that says "vegetarian" on it and I was wearing it once when a guy selling meat door-to-door came to my house to try and sell me meat. I told him I'm a vegetarian and pointed to my shirt - I said, see I'm not lying! He then said, well I sell fish too. I was like, no thanks!

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#27 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 07:13 PM
 
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i eat mostly vegetarian food with some fish, very limited eggs and even more limited dairy.

i identify more as a vegetarian because it's easier to say that i am in a context where i might not know people well, so that i'm not sitting there explaining my diet ad nauseum and/or having nothing appropriate to eat. and in terms of using animal products for non-dietary reasons, i'm even in the vegan camp, i avoid leather. to some, that might be hypocritical, but to me, it's about mindfulness.

i don't like the religion analogy because it doesn't allow for nuances. either you're christian or you're not. but i believe you can be, like me for instance, 95% vegan with occasional consumption of animal products (fish, fish oil, eggs) for health reasons (as a nursing mom i have found that my body is much healthier with a little bit of animal protein...does it make me happy? no...but my dd deserves a healthy mama.) i BELIEVE in veg*n and
that it is the healthiest, most earth-conscious diet and lifestyle to ascribe to. but i also believe that you can be an omni and make conscious choices.

instead of sitting around engaging in a veggier-than-thou pissing contest, can we talk about how we can all, veg and omni alike, change the world by making mindful food choices? if you're omni, let's put those factory farms out of business and support small local meat providers. if you're pesco-, purchase wild caught fish that isn't on the overfished list. if you're veg*n, support organic produce, and also buy local as much as you can. if we can let go of the (restrictive) labels we can all realize that we're all in it together, and we CAN make a difference, regardless of what ends up on our dinner plates at the end of the day.

s
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#28 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 08:00 PM
 
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I'm with yellowpansy and kidspiration.

Anything related to human behavior or human identity cannot be divided into cleary delineated black and white terms. It just can't. It would be nice for everyone if we could do that, but humans are complex beings with a jumble of thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that don't fit neatly into labels.

I'm like kidspiration, I prefer a vegetarian diet and find it simpler to just answer "vegetarian", even though I do eat fish at home maybe once or twice a month. I would never say that I am "vegetarian" in a context where people who don't know me would see me fork up a large chunk of salmon, though. I try to be sensitive because I do empathize with strict vegetarians and the importance of keeping the term pure.
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#29 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 09:11 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kidspiration View Post
instead of sitting around engaging in a veggier-than-thou pissing contest, can we talk about how we can all, veg and omni alike, change the world by making mindful food choices?
I didn't perceive anyone on this thread as engaging in a pissing contest- I see vegetarians venting their frustrations about people who make their lives difficult by confusing the masses about what vegetarianism means.
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#30 of 117 Old 04-28-2007, 10:06 PM
 
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Here's the thing about calling yourself a vegetarian and then eating fish. If you eat the fish in front of the same people that you said 'I'm a veg*n" to, then they might assume that all veg*ns eat fish. If you're going to call yourself a veg*n to someone, then you ought to eat that way in front of that person. At least until you know them well enough to explain all the nuances of your diet.

Really, I guess there's not a problem with saying 'i'm a veg*n' at work, so that you don't have to deal with meat at luncheons and potlucks, even if you eat fish 1x a week or month at home. But, if you're saying 'i'm a veg*n' at work and bringing in tuna salad and filet o fish sandwiches with you for lunch, then that's a problem. Because then you're watering down the definition of the words veg*n and thereby causing difficulties for actual veg*ns.
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