Are we speaking the same language?

I’m always amazed at how little people understand vegetarianism and veganism. Not so much that people don’t grok it to the point of adopting it. I can’t fathom how “consume no flesh” and “consume no animal products” is particularly complicated. Fish is not vegetarian. Chicken is not vegetarian. Cheese is not vegan. These aren’t complicated ideas. Still, the way people persist in being shocked to learn these basic truths demonstrate how little people think about what they eat.

In that context, the journalist charged with telling this story either doesn’t get it, or isn’t thinking about the meaning of the words, only that the word count meets the editor’s need.

Vegetarians who have learned to live without roast beef dinners and bacon sandwiches were yesterday forced to make another major sacrifice: chocolate.

Learned to live without and major sacrifice. Vegetarianism can’t be about choice, because that doesn’t make sense. It must be about willful deprivation.

It came after the makers of Britain’s most popular chocolate bars, including Mars, Snickers, Maltesers and Milky Ways, admitted that they now contain an ingredient derived from a cow’s stomach.

This month, Masterfoods began using animal rennet to produce the whey needed for its products, rather than a vegetarian alternative. Rennet is extracted from the stomach-lining of slaughtered newborn calves, and is used in traditional cheese production in central Europe. In Britain a microbial alternative made from mould is used.

Food manufacturers cheating on their ingredients is nothing new. McDonald’s uses beef and dairy in making its fries. It’s not common sense to think it includes those ingredients. But surprising? No. As long as major chocolate makers include dairy products in their dark chocolate┬╣, it’s clear how little concern they have for vegetarian/vegan needs.

Here’s the best part, though, courtesy of the journalist:

The admission by Masterfoods presents the country’s three million vegetarians with an ethical dilemma over whether to consume more than 20 best-selling products.

What ethical dilemma? It contains an ingredient derived from an animal’s stomach. That’s not vegetarian.

Paul Goalby, the corporate affairs manager at Masterfoods, told the Mail on Sunday: “Since changing the sourcing of our ingredients we are no longer able to ensure our chocolate will be animal rennet-free. So we made the principled decision to admit it was not guaranteed to be vegetarian. If the customer is an extremely strict vegetarian, then we are sorry the products are no longer suitable.”

They’re admitting it before someone inevitably drags it out. Bravo. That’s an honest move and gives vegetarians full information. But Mr. Goalby fell into the same bizarre non-grasp of what vegetarians choose to eat. He’s off in believing this change only affects the “extremely strict vegetarian”. That term is like saying someone is “a little bit pregnant.” Either you are or you are not.

Link via Fark.

┬╣ From the Hershey’s website for Special Dark:

Dark chocolate, also known as sweet or semi-sweet chocolate, typically has a higher percentage of cacao solids (cocoa, chocolate liquor and cocoa butter) than milk chocolate.

Well, duh. Dark chocolate shouldn’t have milk. Hershey’s own glossary of chocolate products reflects this. So why does it include milk in Special Dark? I’d guess milk is cheaper than cocoa.