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Vegetarians also forgo seafood?

I just wanted to ask this as I am constantly confused. I know that for most Roman Catholics, red meat is out of the question during Lent on Friday's(the forty days before Easter Sunday).
They do however eat fish and seafood, as they do not consider it meat or at least red meat even though they will still not eat chicken or pork, which is technically also white meat.
Also one year I was preparing Tofu salads at the Tofu Festival, and had fish flakes on hand, along with the miso, sesame, etc dressings, some customers wanted the flakes, but one got upset since they assumed there would be absolutely no animal product around(they were not allergic trust me, they just wanted a 100% vegan option). I could understand this, but then again I ask, I know vegans do not eat any animal byproduct let alone animal product, but what about vegetarians? and what about fish, or even fish flakes. Where does that fall. So far in my experience it's been an individual decision for the most part. Anyone care to weigh in?

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  1. it's my understanding that many people become vegetarian because they love animals and don't feel right about inflicting pain on innocent creatures, or killing anything w/ intelligence. however, fish apparently do not feel pain and have very small brains, so many 'vegetarians' (not vegans) are ok with eating them. i personally am not a vegetarian of any kind, this is just what i've heard.

    2 Replies
      1. re: soypower

        Warning -- I'm being pedantic.

        The problem of defining pain is problematical. In humans the emotional experience of pain takes place in a primitive part of the brain called the cingulate cortex; an area that is part of the limbic system. I am not an expert on fish brains (or, for that matter, a neurologist), but I would be very surprised if a fish brain does not contain something comparable as a protective mechanism.

        The memory of pain, the location of pain -- these are more conscious events, and I have no idea how the fish brain perceives it. Certainly location seems like it would be an important part of a response system. Fish definately respond to damaging stimuli, but it would require a huge degree of anthropomorphism to expect a small fish brain to experience pain the way we do. It would require just as much, however, to suggest that because they don't experience it the same way that we do that they don't perceive it at all.

        Lecture over. There will be a quiz.

    1. I am of the belief that a vegetarian is someone who eats no animals but will eat dairy and eggs. If someone eats just fish and or poultry they are not a vegetarian and I wish they would not say they are.

      I get irritated when I am out for dinner with friends and they start a whole tirade about what they do and do not eat. If they are ordering food in a restaurant they do not need to justify what they are about to eat. If I am not cooking for them I don't care.

      2 Replies
        1. re: smartie

          I have been a vegetarian for around a year and a half and I HATE eating around my grandmother because she acts like I know nothing about what I chosen: A) Her my brother and I went to a diner and she kept telling me chicken is allowed on a vegetarian diet and kept fighting me on it and eventually looked down and rolled her eyes B) Yesterday a my cousins graduation party there was crawfish and shrimp and again said that fish and seafood were allowed on a vegetarian diet even though I told her no then she told me no only vegans don't eat fish and seafood...I made this choice and they all know I am very bright yet treat me like I know nothing

        2. Abstinence from meat flesh (meaning from warm-blooded animals, including birds - not just red meat) for Catholics is not vegetarianism by any stretch. Vegetarians eat no flesh from warm or cold blooded animals, nor insects, et cet. Unlike vegans, who consume no animal products whatsoever, vegetarians may eat products from animals that don't involve killing an animal-kingdom creatures (like eggs, honey, milk, cheese made without animal rennet, et cet.) Sometimes, the moniker ovo-lacto-vegetarian is used. I've heard of pesce-vegetarians but I consider as nonsensical as people thinking they are vegetarians when they won't eat mammal flesh....

          Now, eastern Christians unlike Catholics practice a form of abstinence that may involve: no animal products, oil or wine.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Karl S

            Linguistically, I have heard Catholics refer to going "vegetarian" during seasons of abstinence. As the only "vegetarians" I knew in the Midwest in the 80s were Catholics, pescatarianism and vegetarianism have been roughly the same in my mind. Perhaps the OP grew up in a similar situation.

            1. re: Karl S

              In Eastern Orthodox practice, the abstinence ('fasting') rules closely linked to the liturgical calendar. The strictest is this 'dry' eating - plain bread, fruits, nuts, plain cooked vegetables. Shellfish are allowed in a more commonly practiced level. My guess is that for Greeks living on the shores of the Mediterranean, collecting shellfish from the shore was little different from picking herbs from the garden. (Servants in colonial New England are reputed to have complained about having to eat too much lobster.) Feast days within fasting periods such as Lent are celebrated with the addition of fish. The Lenten fast is approached in two steps, first giving up meat (on Meatfare Sunday), then eggs and dairy on Cheesefare.

              So the link between these traditional forms of religious abstinence, and modern vegetarianism (in all of its varieties) is pretty weak. These religious rules are rather like English spelling rules, more a product of history than a set of rational reasons.


            2. Let me start by saying my GF is a strict vegetarian, I am not, but she has been very good in educating me so anything I state here is secondary information.

              There are many reasons for people being vegetarian, religion, dietary restrictions, health, humanity, are probably the biggest reasons. The religious aspect goes without saying, the diet and health are a personal nature and vary greatly. The one it seems you are addressing would be the humanity issue. This, to my understanding, is my GF's reason for being vegetarian. As someone else mentioned, pain to anything living is a big reason but I disagree it is the main reason. Whether or not something experieinces pain does not eliminate the fact it is killed in order for it to be eaten and that is the key reason for humanitarian vegetarians, they do not want to bring about any living animals end (many true vegetarians, my GF included, will not wear/use any products gathered from animals by way of death, i.e. leather). She does however, eat humanly gathered eggs and dairy.

              Since there are no "vegetarian police" people have the right to call themselves whatever they want but IMO there is no such thing as a vegetarian that eats fish, they are just a person that only eats fish.

              What I find interesting is my GF NEVER EVER preaches to anyone about why you should be a vegetarian but she is constantly having people explain to her why they aren't vegetarian and why it isn't wrong.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Spiritchaser

                "she is constantly having people explain to her why they aren't vegetarian and why it isn't wrong."

                Wow that would be a bit annoying!

                1. re: irishnyc

                  It is, I've have been witness to it more times then I care to remember. Some of my family, even though I love them dearly, are guilty of it.

              2. Once I went camping with my buddy and his new girlfriend- a vegetarian who wasn't shy about preaching the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. Imagine my surprise when one afternoon as we were taking a drive through town, she directed the driver to pull into a McDonalds- I thought that she just needed to use the facility, but she came out with (and began eating) a bag of Chicken McNuggets!

                Guess some animals are more sacred than others!

                Anyway, she is now and will forever be known as our friend "McVegan"!

                9 Replies
                1. re: Clarkafella

                  I've encountered people who called themselves "vegetarian" because they didn't eat red meat but ate chicken and seafood. In my view, a vegetarian doesn't eat the flesh of any animal.

                  I'm curious as to vegetarian's view of cheese. I've had meals with many vegetarians (who won't have any fish, red meat, white meat) who don't discriminate between cheeses -- those made with animal rennet and those made with not. Do most vegetarians view cheese as being universally OK?

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    Someone that knowingly eats cheese made with animal rennnet is not a vegetarian. Heck, they need to modify even what they might believe to be true -- they are a lacto vegetarian. Like wise, modifiers are needed for people that eat yogurt with gelatin, or soups made with chicken stock.

                    Why so definitive in my comments? The need to commuicate.

                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      I think many beginning vegetarians just don't know how many foods are made - what contains gelatin or even what rennet or gelatin is. How many people - veg or now - know that the sodium tallowate in their soap is made from rendered beef fat (tallow). You have to read a lot of labels -- when I was a veg, I could eat Hydrox (made with shortening) but not Oreos (then containing some lard or tallow). It's a learning process.

                      BTW, I wouldn't eat anything with a backbone. I figured that I could kill a silverfish in the bathroom, and that didn't seem very far from shrimp.

                      1. re: heatherkay

                        I'm not sure if this is just for beginning vegetarians. The vegetarians I'm talking about have been doing this for some time. They're the type who will order tofu and vegetable curry in a Thai restaurant without asking if it's prepared with fish sauce. I think it's great that you're conscientious about reading labels but not everybody is that way.

                        I'm also wondering if there are some people who would just rather not know because they enjoy eating the food too much and would be devastated if it conflicted with their beliefs. My ex-bf (who refused to eat mammal meats) and I used to order Vietnamese "crab" spring rolls. By the third time we ate it, I mentioned that I thought there was pork in it -- because you just couldn't sell 6 crab spring rolls for $6 and it also looked like there was pork in it. Instead of my ex being grateful that I pointed this out, he was angry at me for telling him that there may be pork because he wouldn't be able to eat it anymore. So unless they ask, I just keep my mouth shut if I see somebody doing something like that.

                        1. re: Miss Needle

                          Yeah - I was living in San Antonio when I was a veg. Lots of beans and tortilla fortified with "Vitamin L." I have to admit that sometimes I used the don't-ask-don't-tell method to get through a meal.

                        2. re: heatherkay

                          Ditto on the Hydrox v. Oreos.

                          When I was a vegetarian I became expert at reading food labels. I could pick up a can or box and just glance at the long list of ingredients and words like BEEF FAT, TALLOW, CHICKEN STOCK, would just leap right out at me. Apparently my only talent in life is being able to find the word GELATIN on the ingredients list on a cup of yogurt in 2 seconds or less.

                        3. re: Miss Needle

                          I do agree that the terms vegetarian and vegan are a bit different from traditional religious diets. I had an older aunt who was a devout Roman Catholic and on certain "feast" days and for one saint or another, or Lent, there were rules about what you could eat sometimes there was fasting, but other times you were just supposed to not eat anything that was passed over a fire or heat so on those days all they ate were raw fruit, raw vegetables, virgin(unpasteurized) honey, unpasteurized milk, and cheese made from unpasteurized milk with animal rennet(which they made themselves). Any meat was also excluded, as was bread of any kind since it was baked. I always found this curious, and a little strange as well as the perplexing rules on seafood during the Lenten festivals. Thanks for the vegan/vegetarian distinctions, I was already aware of the principal tenets, but vegetarians(so called) and religious "vegetarians"(also so called) never strictly stayed off of any animal product or byproduct in the strictest form (of all stripes). Thanks Karl S.

                          1. re: b0ardkn0t

                            Are you sure she was Roman Catholic and not Roman Orthodox? I've never heard of any such rule concerning fire/heat, and neither has my husband, and between us we have 32 years of Catholic school.

                            1. re: irishnyc

                              Roman Catholic, like I said they are heavy on the religion (some were catechists)

                      2. Great points above. Lots of people who are not vegetarians call themselves vegetarians. Maybe it just makes life easier for them at dinner parties instead of going into all the details of what they will and will not eat? My favorite anecdote is from my boyfriend's sister-in-law. She calls herself a vegetarian but eats chicken and, get this, BACON!?
                        I don't eat meat (chicken, beef, turkey, pig) but I do eat seafood. I sometimes use the term pescetarian.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: abud

                          And even if it is an mishmash of terminology I like when people refer to themselves as pescetarian, I know pretty much immediately what they will and will not eat.

                          In reagrds to the other question someone had about cheese. My GF is very aware of the rennet and has found some great rennet free cheeses. Another couple things a lot of vegetarians overlook is gelatin and soups made with chicken stock.

                        2. Whether or not one is vegetarian, wouldn't it be nice to use agreed upon terms? There are so many variations on what people call a "vegetarian" that it's no wonder people are confused. So, in another attempt to clarify terms in order to improve communication:

                          The only "real" vegetarians are vegans, pure and simple. All the rest need modifiers. Ovo-, lacto-, etc. I am only directly addressing diet -- a vegan that wears leather is still a vegan -- that wears leather.

                          Someone that eats mostly vegetarian but "strays" (for example,with family) might simply say it that way; for example: "I usually, but not always, eat an ovolacto vegetarian diet." Someone that eats fish might say: "I eat fish but otherwise am an ovolacto vegetarian". These people are not vegetarians, but at least they are more definitive. (Some people use the term "pescatarian", but I think it's not specific enough by itself.) You may have noticed I often use full sentences -- attempting briefer terms often falls short.

                          I am not addressing motivation -- religious, health, "moral", economic, emotional, etc., but if a term clearly define someone's diet then by all means. Many people may not know what a dairy-only Kosher diet consists of, but at least it's well defined.

                          People that are consistant in a restricted dietary approach often have to deal people that don't "get it", including some people that aggressively have no patience for (or even attempt to understand) others that don't meet their breadth of diet. People that keep Glatt Kosher, or who have real allergies, often have to deal with people that want to change the other person's approach. ("But I took the meat out!"... while thinking "Get over it!") At least medical restrictions, if not always understood, get more respect.

                          People that are consistant in a restricted dietary approach often have to resort to describing their restrictions as an allergy in order to get someone else not to mess wiith it. I can't tell you how many times I've seen someone grab a spoon at a buffet from a meat item and, still dripping, and use it for an otherwise vegetarian dish. Your customer may have believed, with good probability (obviously I wasn't there), that there was a good chance that the (I'm assuming) bonito flakes coulld have easily "contaminated" the veggie stuff. A chance to have vegan food is pretty good at a tofu festival; try to imagine their disappoinment.

                          It can be very frustrating for someone consistant, for whatever reasons, in their restrictions. Almost everyone likes to eat out, at least occasionally, but landmines still exist. Chefs that don't care to worry about allergens and use the same cutting board and knife for shellfish and fish. Servers that don't know a dish's ingredients and use a guess as if it were a known fact. I was in the restaurant business for many years and I've seen a lot. Again, the easiest approach to be taken seriously is that they should tell the server that they have a horrible allergy and that the server have to be absolutely certain. Otherwise they should chooose a different dish --- or perhaps a different restaurant...

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: Richard 16

                            I have to disagree with the comment about only vegans are real vegetarians. Vegan are vegans and vegetarians are vegetarians, if you are going to use the term vegan, and there is a generally accepted definition of that term, then that's what they are.

                            1. re: Spiritchaser

                              The problem is that "vegetarian" is otherwise so inconsistantly defined that a standard wouuld be very helpful. Abud's relative is a classic case in point -- a "vegetarian" that eats *chicken* and *bacon*? And Clarkafella's friend that eats *Chicken McNuggets*? (Love "McVegan".)

                              The easiest way get a standard here is to start with the most restrictive term that meets the overall "vegetarian" theme and modify from there. Vegan fits the bill.

                              I'd much rather have shorter well-defined words/terms than sentences, but have heard nothing consistant yet. Do you have a more effectiive way? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

                              1. re: Richard 16

                                Well, to be a little more light hearted, my GF refers to anyone that says they are a vegetarian but eats fish and occasional meat, as a 60's vegetarian.

                                1. re: Spiritchaser

                                  We used to use the term "beady-eyed" vegetarian for those who included fowl & fish in their diet while excluding red meat (and this was in the '60's). Also sometimes called the Bambi Principal - those big doe eyes seem more "real" than an animal with beady eyes. This is often more common in people changing their diet from health derived reasons or with people just starting to explore a meat free diet. Like anything, there is a learning curb (ie: isinglass in wine production, rennet in cheese). Some people dive in and learn quickly,others kind of wing it (no pun intended) and their choices often lack consistency. A definition is only helpful when all parties understand its meaning. After way too many years in the natural foods field I never assume I know what "vegetarian" means until I have asked enough questions to understand what it means to the specific individual. Yes, it can be tedious & time consuming. But as long as there are people capable of individuality there will be enormous variety in their usage of the terms.

                                2. re: Richard 16

                                  I don't believe that's true. Vegetarian is well-defined---it is anyone who forgoes eating flesh from formerly living creatures. Veganism means anyone who forgoes eating anything that once came from a living creature, even if the creature wasn't killed in the process. People like Abud's relative have simply bastardized the meaning by using an absolute term to define what if merely their own nutritional whims. It's like someone declaring himself celibate but makes exceptions for redheads, Saturday one-night stands, tropical vacation hook-ups, etc. There's nothing all that flexible about the term, only in the way that person chooses to use it.

                              2. re: Richard 16

                                I understand the allure of tofu to vegans and vegetarians, but tofu is not simply a vegan ingredient of some sort, it's part of a cuisine, with many aspects to it(as it can be cooked and played with in so many ways) However all they had to say was that they did not want any animal product and we all would be ok, which they did, I can certainly understand the frustration of vegans and vegetarians in a meat eating world. The thing is people have very different opinions on what a vegetarian is, as you can see on this board, and should not come with high expectations about a certain culture or cuisine being the best or perfectly suited to their lifestyle 100% by any measure. It's a simple matter of communication and appreciation for food variety. Allergies a completely different topic and should communicate that fact to whoever prepares the food, but really I would be careful especially anywhere where seafood is very highly possible to be on the menu or served as in certain cuisines.

                              3. I call myself a vegetarian to most people because it's just easier that way, and cuts down on the need for discussions or explanations to be truthful. That being said, i occassionally eat seafood. This is not by far a daily occurrance, and it makes up only a small portion of my diet, and truthfully if i were to eat it every day or every other day, i'd probably get sick of it, or turned off it. If pressed, i will call myself a pesca-vegetarian. I gave up eating meat for a number of reasons, but one of the primary ones was my disgust and horror with corporate farming practices. I was never a big meat eater, and in my first month or so, i would eat game meats at a special occasion, but then just lost my taste for it all anyway, and have not had any meat since. I probably wouldn't have as big of a problem with meat, if people did things like they did many years ago with their food, and were very close to it. People are too far removed from their food, and many people seem to think that chicken grows in those little styro packs in the grocery store. I actually don't have a big issue with hunting, but the meat is not for me. The way i look at it, if i couldn't bring myself to kill it, i shouldn't be eating it.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: im_nomad

                                  "I gave up eating meat for a number of reasons, but one of the primary ones was my disgust and horror with corporate farming practices."

                                  It is possible to eat meat without supporting horrible corporate farming practices. Many of the "recovering vegetarians" I know strictly abstain from factory-farm animal products, but will happily eat pasture raised, humanely slaughtered meat.

                                2. I don't like meat or fish.. I don't eat meat or fish, and call myself a vegetarian.... However, i'm not against chicken stock or gelatin etc, although I did not know that cheese has animal parts in it?

                                  BUT... what is the big deal about what people call themselves and what they actually eat... i can see it being important if you are cooking for the person, but in all reality should i not call myself a vegetarian because i like me some jello?

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: sarahelan

                                    why call it anything? Why not just say, on choosing a restaurant or when invited for dinner, I don't eat such and such, please check with the kitchen that there is no beef stock etc, or could you make me something without such and such ingredients.

                                    A friend of mine is a total pain to go out with to a restaurant. He tells us all and servers, that he is a vegetarian and doesn't eat dairy, but he will order fish and chicken and then, on NYE, he ate the veggie lasagne with ricotta turns out he will sometimes eat dairy. I would just prefer he says he doesn't eat red meat which would be the truth rather than all the fancy names he gives himself and to be honest, I would prefer he doesn't say anything about his food preferences at all.

                                    I don't eat shellfish and pork but nobody needs to know unless I am invited to a friend who is cooking and I might tell the person in advance in case they are planning a lobster evening or a shellfish or prosciutto appetizer or a pork spare rib BBQ. No big deal.

                                    1. re: smartie

                                      Why call it anything? To improve communication. If the message can effectively be communicated without any specific terms, cool beans. But simply saying "vegetarian" will evoke such a wide variety of meanings that, as seen by the responses here, is close to being meaningless to all but the person posting.

                                      Your friend just sounds like a pain and makes it difficult for any 'real" vegetarians, however defined.

                                      You write that you don't eat shellfish or pork; perhaps it's a relaxed type of Kashrut. I don't know. If you were strict enough, you might care that a fish chowder (or even a potato chowder) is possibly made with salt pork. Fish chowder might be made with a clam stock, and if you were allergic to clams that would definitely be a big deal.

                                      1. re: Richard 16

                                        you are right Richard16 and I do ask what the stock is made from or if there are bacon bits in a salad, but it's not defineable my food choices and most of the time nobody needs to know and quite frankly, they probably couldnt care less - and neither should they.

                                    2. re: sarahelan

                                      Call yourself whatever you like, and I don't mean to sound sarcastic. (That's just a side benefit...)

                                      It's not a big deal cooking for yourself. If you are attempting to communicate with someone, however, it might be a big deal if it is, well, a big deal. You may not eat cow or fish muscle, but if you eat gelatin or chicken stock you're not a vegetarian, at least in my book (and most peoples'.) You likely don't care what I think (if so you're certainly not alone there) but I (and others) are attempting to improve communication.

                                      The OP's confusion, IMO, in part stems from a lack of agreed uponed terms. I am not in any way passing judgement -- just trying to improve communication, so that the OP's question is addressed.

                                      Obviously cheese is, by it's very nature, an animal product. But you are likely referring to animal rennet, and (as you likely also know) that is an animal product, and in this case the animal is killed to get it. For many lactovegetarians this is where the line is drawn. I don't have an easy term for this.

                                      1. re: sarahelan

                                        There is cheese that is produced using artificial rennets and rennets from herbs.
                                        Not all cheese(in fact most generic grocery store cheeses have artificial, or no live culture rennets) have animal rennet(and in most cheeses a minimal ingredient as only a tiny bit of the culture is needed to make large amounts of cheese), but those are typically considered the most sincere forms of cheese.
                                        So don't get discomforted, you are still eating mostly dairy product, no animal product(assuming you get your cheese at a grocery store).

                                        1. re: b0ardkn0t

                                          just don't eat the cheeses that are imported, or foodie type cheeses that specifically say they use live culture, or are named as pig, or sheep or certain animal product if you don't eat meat.

                                          1. re: b0ardkn0t

                                            No discomfort at all. At one time I looked at how the cheese was coagulated, but I no longer call myself a vegetarian.

                                            There is at least one web site with info on the coagulant status of various cheeses:


                                            Panneer is always a safe bet for lacto-veges (and is really easy to make), and there are some great fresh mozzarellas -- yes, mozzarella -- made with, for example,, lemon juice as a coagulant.

                                            1. re: Richard 16

                                              yes there are new cheese types being created as we speak(or type).
                                              I know I've heard of a few programs both in Northern and Southern California(college programs, and private businesses) that are creating and experimenting with new cheeses(hit and miss, as well as successes) from herbs, spices, and previously unheard of sources of culture and rennets, and in the process created stronger cheeses in some cases.
                                              The soy and tofu "cheeses" in away are not really cheese, but I do appreciate them as an option.
                                              I remember the old cheemaking styles, My grandmother had a cheemaking room that aways smelled strongly of cheese and rennet. The animal rennet was in a bottle fermenting and made it often as they milked daily and made blocks of cheeses every other day. They would pour a certain amount of the liquid into a few pails of milk and then wait for the coagulation. Afterwards they would strain the curds on a cloth and remove all the liquid, and used a grinder to refine the curds, after a few rounds in the grinder they packed the product in small wooden frames(molded by cloth) to form the blocks and compact it until you had a solid cheese brick. They then put them on drying racks or if were in the mood for fresh cheese there was nothing like it, goes very well with fruit(figs were common) and honey, but really any fresh produce as well.

                                        2. I know i'm going to sound a big hypocritical on this one...but i think chowing down on chicken and bacon is really pushing it, i mean the only thing you're not eating is beef..?

                                          And i have to say i don't understand the dietary vegan issue only....i can't see how any vegan could justify wearing a fur coat or what not.

                                          Anyway, I don't preach to or feel the need to education meat eaters or regale people at the table with stories of beakless chickens trapped in cages. (i'm not saying anyone is doing this here). It does really bother me when ultra-strict vegetarians or vegans look down on me or feel the need to tell me i'm not a "real" vegetarian, or launch into the horrors of eggs and such. I would imagine that there are also varying degrees of vegan-ism, ranging from those who avoid eggs and dairy, to the teetotallers who won't use anything taken from an animal, like honey or silk.

                                          For the most part i just state "I don't eat meat" and it is others who reply, oh you're a vegetarian, and my repsonse to that, is well, sort of. I don't like to have to launch into discussions of my personal choice to eat the way I do so i leave it at that.

                                          I just don't like being looked down upon by "real" vegetarians. The way i look at it is, my dietary choices over the years, have at least made SOME difference in the animal world. I hate being faulted for that, when i feel like i'm doing a good thing.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: im_nomad

                                            No matter how good you are at something, someone is going to try and be better. If you are vegetarian, they'll be vegan, if you are vegan they'll be super vegan (I just made that up). When you mention the part about being looked down upon by other vegetarians I can't help but remember the Simpson's episode where Lisa bragged to the teen activist that she was a vegetarian and his reply was: "Pfft, I'm a class 5 vegan, I don't eat anything that ever cast a shadow".

                                            I applaud you and my GF for the choices you make, I can't do it. But I do make a conscience decision to always TRY and do the least amount of harm/damage in the choices I make.

                                            1. re: Spiritchaser

                                              What's beyond vegan is "fruitarians" -- people who only eat things that can be harvested without killing the plant, like fruit, nuts and some grains. I'm not sure if or how people manage to actually do this, but it is an actual term. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruitari...

                                              Personally, I see both sides of the "definition" argument. I agree with those who say a vegetarian is someone who doesn't consume animal flesh (including fish) in any form (including things like stock and animal rennet cheeses), but I also agree that "vegetarian" is a handy shortcut for saying "please don't expect me to eat meat when we eat together" without having to get into a complicated discussion about what you will eat under what circumstances and for what reasons.

                                              IMHO, people who call themselves vegetarians but who eat McNuggets deserve all the derision we can heep on them. They're not "vegetarians" for any reason except that celebrity PETA shills have convinced them that "vegetarian" is a fashionable label.

                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                I agree with your take on the meat eating vegetarians (deliberate oxymoron) labeling themselves because it's "in". These are the same kind of people that buy the trendy dog and dump it when some other breed comes along.

                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                  Question, on the harvesting of "food products," like corn: the harvesting of the ears of corn, do not kill the plant. It dies with the season. Now, the "seeds," from that ear, would likely re-generate another plant, next year, but then seeds are re-planted to do this. How does this sort of thing fit in, or does it?

                                                  As for the McNuggets, I do not believe that any animals were harmed in their creation. I'd guess that they are made from a substance from a lab, and should be OK, unless they were cooked in animal fat - only a guess, mind you.


                                            2. In my mind, vegetarians do not consume animals of any kind with the animal byproducts of dairy and eggs to be an exception for many. I believe the latter is because the animal doesn't have to be killed to produce the product. Now, however, there have been so many variations on vegetarians that the word, to me, has pretty much lost it's meaning. I don't know why someone who calls themself a vegetarian would still eat fish or any fish derivative since that animal would have to be killed to provide the product, but as I say the word has lost a lot of meaning. An animal is an animal, whether cold or warm blooded. . .and I think science has pretty well condemned the idea that fish don't feel pain. They too are sentient beings. I describe myself as not eating land meat (both for ethical, health and environmental reasons) and leave it at that. Can't comment on Catholics.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: gourmanda

                                                Catholics "abstain" from eating meat (defined as mammal) on Fridays and also "fast" (do not eat the equivalent of one entire meal, also excluding meat) on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

                                                Unless the rules change...

                                                I do vegan on Fridays, "just in case"...

                                              2. Vegetarians *do not* eat fish. That's what the word means.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: xanadude

                                                  ditto xanadude.

                                                  I just read through all of the different gradations, but seriously- Vegetarians do not eat critters. How hard is that?

                                                  Now, I've know people that claim to be vegetarians but they eat fish, etc. But they are liars. A fish is not a vegetable. Fish flakes come from dead fish.

                                                  1. re: cheesemonger

                                                    If vegetarians only eat vegetables, what do humanitarians eat?

                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                      Well, they be cannibals o'course!

                                                2. My SIL doesn't eat anything but cheese, ice cream, and starches (I'll skip the health implications here), and she doesn't eat any vegetables. But yet she insists on calling herself a vegetarian. I don't get it. In her situation, why not just call a spade a spade, and say that you're a picky eater?

                                                  I rarely, if ever, eat red meat, but I do eat chicken and fish. I would never think to call myself a veg-anything, just someone who doesn't eat red meat.

                                                  1. were there other tofu dishes at this tofu festival with non-vegetarian components? was the tofu festival a decidedly vegetarian event? because i don't understand someone getting upset that there was the option for people to have fish flakes or not. it sometimes annoys me that so many westerners equate tofu with vegetarianism. traditionally, there are many tofu dishes paired with meat or seafood. i know that it was vegetarians and macrobiotic people who first started using tofu in the west, but still, it's traditions go back for centuries in asia.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: augustiner

                                                      Yes, there were plenty of other tofu options, the Tofu Festival is a large event with many food stalls and no it is not strictly vegetarian as there have been in past times people have roasted and boiled meats and fish and sautéed meat dishes most involving tofu, but not all.

                                                    2. wow..."liars"? ...a bit strong cheesemonger.

                                                      1. In my experience the words vegetarian and even vegan are applied so widely as to lose their meaning. I have known "vegetarians" whose only restriction was no red meat, and vegans so strict they refused to take or appear in non-digital photos due to gelatin in the film. I'm not inclined to quibble about whatever labels people apply to themselves. When cooking for self-described vegans, vegetarians or kosher-eaters I always get an exact description in advance of what is or isn't permissible for that individual. It's the only way to avoid miscommunication and conflict when your guest discovers they have accidentally ingested forbidden food X.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: mordacity

                                                          "vegans so strict they refused to take or appear in non-digital photos due to gelatin in the film"

                                                          Please, please tell me you're joking!

                                                          1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                                                            The modern digital age makes it so much easier to be a strict vegan. It is much easier to find synthetic and electronic substitutes for items that traditionally were made from animals. Polyester and nylon can substitute for leather. Digital photos for film. Cars instead of draft horses. Just don't tell anyone that these synthetics are made from petroleum - which was originally living plants and animals. :)

                                                            1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                                                              Nope. He lived down the hall from me in college. God only knows what he did with his mandatory meal plan.

                                                              1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                                                                It is usually more of a political conviction, than a true dietary, or religious, one. I've know a few, who would not eat any product, that was cultivated, harvested or produced by anyone less than 18 years of age (child labor) and nothing from any country that the World Bank did not give interest-free loans to (world poverty). These same folk seemed all too inclined to "preach" their dietary choices to all, and heap disdain on all, who did not ascribe to their choices.

                                                                To each, their own,

                                                            2. While there are variants of the vegetarianism diet, vegetarianism is the practice of a diet that excludes all animal flesh, including poultry, game, fish, shellfish or crustacea, and slaughter by-products. A strict or pure vegetarian is know as a vegan. That is one who does not use or consume animal products of any kind. So to answer your question one who would consider themselves a vegetarian would forgo seafood.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: crt

                                                                I guess the nub of this whole discussion is that many people who "consider themselves" vegetarians DO eat seafood, etc. The problem is the difference between what people think they are and what they actually are.

                                                                1. re: heatherkay

                                                                  You know how it is with all religions. There are the 'true believers' who practice what they preach, and the 'nominal believers' who mouth the right words, but compromise the practice. :) Or maybe it's the difference between the 'fundamentalist' and the 'liberal' versions of the same religion.


                                                              2. Two little details:
                                                                1. Catholics who abstain from eating meat as part of their religious observance don't consider themselves vegetarians for the day. They are simply following the restriction, which does not extend to fish.
                                                                2. The "meatless" requirement is just for the Fridays in Lent, not all forty days. Those who usually wouldn't notice the Lenten season might recall that for five or six weeks each spring, McDonalds offers the Filet-O-Fish for 99 cents. Yep, that's Lent.

                                                                McDonalds' FoF special and the Shamrock Shake season do overlap one another, yet they are only coincidences in the religious year. In the same way, there's no direct matching of the dietary observances among different religions.

                                                                Religious history is chock-full of mortals who fail to meet the ideals they've proclaimed, or who confuse sharing good news with inflicting it on one another. So the clearest connection between Catholicism and vegetarianism is that they're both practiced by fallible human beings. But really, that's about it.

                                                                1. Some folk will not even eat vegetables, if an animal has ever walked through the field. Others will eat anything, so long as it doesn’t have a face. Still, others will eat anything but beef, pork, venison, lamb, etc., but chicken, turkeys and fish/seafood are OK. I think that it depends on the individual and what they want. If I have a vegan over for dinner, they usually get cheese and wine, unless my wife wants to go over “their” list of offending items. It differs from person, to person. Being an omnivore, I do not get hung up on it.