A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine, who is a vegan, pointed out that the term “vegetarian” in its modern context is somewhat ill-fitting as it quite literally means “from vegetable origin” and that’s not really what people usually mean today.
Granted that the meaning of words and terms shifts over time we both agreed that a word of such obvious origin was less than illustrative of what a modern vegetarian is.
In its origin the word “Vegetarian” simply meant that something was food from vegetable origin or someone who eats food from vegetable origin. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary the term Vegetarian first appeared in 1839. The first offshoot, if I may call it that, was “Fruitarians” that appeared as a term in 1893. It weren’t until 1944 that there were a distinction between vegetarian and vegan as it were this year the term “Vegan” were introduced.
Nowadays “Vegetarian” usually means “Vegetarian who also eat dairy and egg derivatives”. The full and more correct, albeit convoluted, term would be Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian but who have time to say all that when you’re hungry.
Solely based on whispers of a memory from ages past I remember something about the term “Vegan” at the term of its conception meant something like “Strict vegetarian (i.e. ortodox) with a political component in lifestyle choices” in order to distinct itself from the liberalisation of “Vegetarians” that we continue to see today.
Today, in Spain where I’m currently living, I still have to specify what I mean by “vegetarian”. Anyway. Back to semantics.
So today Vegan means old-school vegetarian and vegetarian means as-long-as-you-didn’t-kill-the-animal-omnivore (with many variants). There are even modern anything-but-red-meat-vegetarians, and fish-is-hardly-an-animal-vegetarians today, but I don’t want to go too deep into the rabbit hole of semantics at this time.
Oh how the mighty have fallen.
Being fans of words we agreed that the situation in total was far from ideal and after some thinking I suggested we make a new word to cover the group of semi-strict-liberal-vegetarian (As long as there’s no dead animal parts omnivore) I myself belong to.
After some more thinking, and possibly and injection of caffeine I suggested the therm “Carnivalarian”.
At first it was a kind of shooting-from-the-hip-silliness but as I thought more about it and explained the reasoning to my friend I became more and more convinced it was a good word.
As the mildly observant reader might already have guessed its based on the word Carnival. But as you might understand it has nothing to do with parades in Rio or any kind of party as such.
To explain, but without going into religious practices. The base of the word Carnival is the latin words “Carne” which means “flesh/meat” and “levare” which means “to remove”. So carnival literally means removal of meat. Hence the word carnivalarian which means “Omnivore who doesn’t eat parts of animals” or “Slightly liberal vegan” or just “Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian”.
One might argue against the introduction of yet another term to define diet preferences, but I find it reintroduces clear semantic to a confusing situation.
And it also sounds festive. 🙂