For the purpose of determining the scope of the site, what is considered to be vegetarianism?

  • Not eating meat or fish -- is there a more specific gray area you are concerned about?
    – djechlin
    Feb 1, 2017 at 1:33
  • This seems like an important question that hasn't been getting enough attention. I wish I could bounty it but that's not a thing on meta :( Plus I don't have the rep, but hey. Anyways, maybe this could be featured? Mar 25, 2017 at 9:39

4 Answers 4

  • A vegan does not consume any animal products.
  • A vegetarian does not consume any product derived from animal bodies, such as animal flesh or leather.

It's plain and simple. While ethical, environmental and health reasons are very important and in scope of the site, they answer the why, not the what, and should be omitted from the definition.

Other, non-vegetarian diets include:

  • A pescetarian does not consume any animal flesh, except fish and seafood.
  • An omnivore has no restrictions on consumption per se.

(It goes without saying that people following non-vegetarian consumption habits are welcome on this site, but they just have to stick to the terms.)

  • While a popular term in the vegan community, "omnivore" is not a diet. Vegans are also omnivores.
    – ecc
    Feb 2, 2017 at 11:13
  • @ecc, "omnivore" can refer to a particular species capable of eating meat and vegetarian, but also to the dietary habit. Even in scientific communities, the term is used.
    – Turion
    Feb 2, 2017 at 11:17
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    Subtle difference between omnivorous diet and and omnivore animal but the article does use it loosely so I'll have to stand corrected.
    – ecc
    Feb 2, 2017 at 11:26
  • This is a terrible site policy. People who identify as veg*n do so in a wide variety of manners requiring a wide variety of behavioral modifications. This is an ontology I assume you think is reasonable and it represents a large hegemonic group, but that's no reason to allow that group's hegemony to exclude other groups self-identification from this site. The adaptation of Christianity.SE's policy is the correct procedure. Mar 24, 2017 at 4:36
  • You can even ask if members of such and such a vegetarian community are 'real' vegetarians according to your group's teachings on main site, if you want (and if the site decides that's on-topic), but you shouldn't get that involved with site policy. Mar 24, 2017 at 4:36
  • @thedarkwanderer, I can't imagine that someone who eats fish would get offended if people here do not call them a vegetarian. The point of fixing a definition is not to "exclude other groups" from this site, it's just to avoid misunderstandings. If a pescetarian has such a thin skin that they feel seriously offended when being called "not a vegetarian", then I don't think they can usefully contribute to the website. What you describe is not a "hegemony" since there is no exertion of power here, it's just how a consensus by majority is reached.
    – Turion
    Mar 24, 2017 at 7:56
  • @Turion If the point is not to exclude other groups from the site then this is the wrong place for such delineation. This question is defining the scope of the site. Also you seem not to understand the concept of cultural hegemony-- I suggest you learn about that and consider how you might be effecting it through subject positioning. Mar 24, 2017 at 16:57
  • @thedarkwanderer, it seems you're misunderstanding something very basic, or maybe I haven't made it clear enough. I'm not telling e.g. pescetarians to stay away from this site, and I'm not saying that there shouldn't be questions about pescetarianism. If you personally have questions about a diet that is not "vegetarian" as I defined it above, please by all means ask about it, on the site or on meta, and let's find out together whether it is on topic. (It probably is, if people who identify as vegetarians are interested in it.) I'm only trying to give a clear definition for the word itself.
    – Turion
    Mar 24, 2017 at 19:25
  • @Turion But this definition that we are coming up with is to be used to scope the site, is it not? diets outside of it would be off-topic a priori. The vegetarians I am familiar with are unopposed to eating meat provided it meets certain (rather stringent) ethical requirements and, in fact, do so on occasion. Questions about whether a given source of meat meets those ethical requirements are not on-topic by your definition. Mar 24, 2017 at 19:32
  • @thedarkwanderer, in my opinion: Whether these questions are on topic is a separate, very important question. By all means, do ask it. (I personally would say that they're off-topic, but obviously the community verdict counts.) But if I'd encounter one of these questions with a tag like [vegetarian-diet], I'd edit and remove the tag.
    – Turion
    Mar 25, 2017 at 8:07
  • @thedarkwanderer, I just noticed that this issue might be already settled here: vegetarianism.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/12/… So it sounds like the kind of questions you're proposing are on-topic even if they don't correspond to exactly vegetarian diets as defined here.
    – Turion
    Mar 25, 2017 at 8:43

In the interest of covering the scope generally, we should probably use a non specific definition like

The conscious abstaining from consuming, purchasing or using animal products done for health, environmental or ethical reasons.

No need to specifically address meat or food since those are only part of the scope. The second half discussing reasons might also be redundant, but the explanation seems a bit flat without it.

  • 6
    I think it's entirely fine to state it without a particular reason.
    – Turion
    Feb 2, 2017 at 8:42
  • 3
    I'd at least change the second part to '...products, for example for.." to make it clear other rationales are also acceptable. Mar 24, 2017 at 16:58
  • If complete abstinence is meant, this would limit the definition to strict veganism; if partial abstinence, it is a great definition BUT will include flexis and pescos. Mar 27, 2017 at 11:02

I'd say go with a similar definition to what Christianity.SE does:

First off, remember that the working definition of a Christian for purposes of this site is "any group that self-identifies as such." In defining 'mainstream' Christianity, we are not attempting to to say who is or who is not a Christian.

Note: I don't want to start a religious war here. I quote this because they have a good definition.

I think our site should follow a similar definition. If somebody considers themselves/the dialect they are discussing to be vegan/vegetarian, that's allowed! They should be allowed to ask questions and answer questions.

However, there are a couple obvious baselines for vegetarianism:

  • Does not eat meat.

  • That's really about it.

For vegans, the most common definition is similar to "does not consume or use animal products".

I think we should allow any person who wants to call themselves either, as long as it's not too far from the most common definition. How do we tell if it's too far? Common sense.

However, answers to questions should strive either to conform to the question's definition of veg*nism or, lacking a specific description in the question (including its tags) the general site definition.

Don't answer with "well I consider vegans to be allowed to eat eggs therefore you can get protein from eggs". But if the OP explicitly says "How can I get protein as a vegan who eats eggs?", "Eggs give a lot of protein and are vegan by your definition" is a fine answer.

Also, let's not make a practice of editing vegan into vegetarian if it's not clearly a typo, let's try to be open-minded.

TL;DR: If they call it a vegan or vegetarian diet, they count for the purposes of this site. And when answering, try to abide by any specifications in the question in addition to the general definition of veg*nism.

  • I don't think their approach would work for us. A loose definition will lead to fights over who is right and who is wrong, and to misunderstandings. Defining veganism and vegetarianism is simple and easy. People with other consumption habits (pescetarians, omnivores) are welcome to this site, they just should use the terms as they are defined here.
    – Turion
    Feb 2, 2017 at 8:48
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    For all purposes and intents, fish are animals and are made of meat.
    – ecc
    Feb 6, 2017 at 9:07
  • This is the only choice presented so far that I think won't lead to significant harm. +1 Mar 24, 2017 at 4:38
  • "If they call themselves a vegan or vegetarian, they count for the purposes of this site" Why is is this about people? Anyone can ask on this site, they don't have to be vegetarian. Only the topics have to be related to vegetarianism.
    – Turion
    Mar 24, 2017 at 19:21
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    @Turion I meant, "if the dialect of veg*nism that they're talking about is considered as veg*nism by them, it counts as that for our purposes. I'll edit to make that more clear.
    – Riker
    Mar 24, 2017 at 23:36
  • @Turion fwiw, is that better?
    – Riker
    Mar 25, 2017 at 15:45
  • Yes, that's an improvement in my opinion :) I still stand by my original point, however.
    – Turion
    Mar 25, 2017 at 17:26

Straight from Google, the minimum for this is:

the practice of not eating meat or fish, especially for moral, religious, or health reasons.

Of course, vegans will have even more strict requirements:

Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry. Vegans, in addition to being vegetarian, do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products.

  • 1
    I don't think this is a good answer. It pretty much disallows alternative forms of vegetarianism, such as pecto-vegetarianism. This site shouldn't be the place for that kind of division.
    – Riker
    Feb 1, 2017 at 22:03
  • 1
    @EasterlyIrk, it doesn't disallow "alternative" forms. It just makes clear that pescetarianism is not vegetarianism.
    – Turion
    Feb 2, 2017 at 8:41
  • @Turion But the question here is about determining the scope of the site, I think we should address answers in that sense, not just what falls under the purview of each word. Feb 2, 2017 at 9:29
  • @SuperBiasedMan, agree. But we should separate the definition of "vegetarian" from what the scope of the side is (see my edited answer).
    – Turion
    Feb 2, 2017 at 9:47
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    @EasterlyIrk what is pecto-vegetarianism?
    – ecc
    Feb 2, 2017 at 11:11
  • @ecc, it's a more uncommon (and, in my opinion, misleading) term for pescetarianism.
    – Turion
    Feb 4, 2017 at 22:15
  • 1
    Yeah then no. Pescetarianism is not vegetarianism. Even the word "vegetarianism" means actually "ovo-lacto-vegetarianism" is the most common sense. What's the difference between a Pescetarian and a person who likes fish but also likes to eat salad? Why make the distinction between someone that only eats fish to someone who only eats poultry? It's not a "alternative form" whatsoever.
    – ecc
    Feb 6, 2017 at 8:50

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