Sunday, October 10, 2010

Four Lessons from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau: The Etymology of Meat

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau is a woman after my own literary heart. Along with having our name in common, Patrick-Goudreau also has a Master’s degree in English, and she truly gets the most out of her linguistic and communication training. The bulk of her talk was about the power of language, and how we can use that power to our advantage in the dialogue about a vegan lifestyle. My favorite example came from a discussion of the etymology of the word “meat.” Patrick-Goudreau, in an effort to emphasize how dominant the omnivorous lifestyle is in America, pointed out how “milk” is synonymous with cow’s milk, “meat” is synonymous with animal flesh, “butter” is synonymous with animal fat, but they are not inherently so. The etymology of the word “meat” originates in the Old English word “mete” which means “food, item of food (contrasted with drink)” and that is all. So forget the idea that being vegan means giving up meat, milk, and butter. As a vegan, I eat as much nut meat, meaty mushrooms, almond milk, soy milk, hemp milk, and non-dairy butter as I want. Buttery toast, milk and cookies, and buttercream frosting all have a place in the plant based diet. The real key is to divest these harmless words from the animal products we currently connect them to in order to divest ourselves from the assumption that we need animals in order to obtain these products.

 If you've been inspired by these lessons, I encourage you to visit Patrick-Goudreau's website, I like her podcasts in particular, Vegetarian Food for Thought, so check it out!

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