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