I still remember my first thoughts about vegetaranismo in Esperanto. I had this conversation.
Anna: Why do you eat meat?
Me: It’s too difficult to always find a vegetarian option.
Anna: That’s a stupid reason. Every Esperanto conference has a vegetarian option. Why aren’t you a vegetarian here?
Me: I never thought of that!
After that point, I’ve signed up as a vegetarian to almost every Esperanto conference I’ve attended. I came across this again while looking into the main groups, which are most likely to learn the language: traveller, geek, language lover and vegetarians. In my blog post The “Average” Esperanto speaker, I wrote the following about vegetarians and vegans:
While this is the newest addition to the tendencies of Esperanto speakers, it took me a while to figure out why this group was so prominent. Well, they are a group of idealists who also practice what they believe. Typically vegetarians support animal rights, but also support their beliefs by no longer eating meat. Vegans even more so by not eating any animal products. They think about the way the world should be and adapt their lives to do their part to help move us all toward that ideal. They also face resistance from their friends for their lifestyle in the same way Esperanto speakers encounter disbelief for their choice of language, so they need a thick skin to receive this criticism and continue on despite that.
So, last week I saw the documentary Vegucated about 3 New Yorkers who decide to go completely vegan for 6 weeks. A vegan is someone who doesn’t eat meat or any animals products (i.e. eggs, cheese, honey, etc) nor buy clothes made from animals (i.e. leather, silk, etc). I would highly recommend this film for anyone interested in the thinking that goes behind becoming vegan. It really hit home how we’re a cog in the machine that doesn’t treat animals very kindly, to put it mildly. So, in the same way that many people learn Esperanto by seeing the world in the big picture of language inequality, many Esperanto speakers use the same logic to realize that we can change the world a little with our personal decisions, whether that’s what language we learn or how we eat.
I’ve been flexitarian for a couple years now, eating meat about twice a week after watching Why I’m a Weekday Vegetarian (with Esperanto subtitles). In this talk, Hill explains how meat was eaten twice per week traditionally, so that’s also how he chooses to live. With his logic, two weekday vegetarians help animals as much as one vegetarian. So, the question was no longer am I a meat-eater or a vegetarian, or can I be something in between?
As I mentioned before, you can sign up as a vegetarian for pretty much every Esperanto conference in the world with one meeting going as far as introducing what they called the “cruel tax” to pay extra if you want to eat meat. Needless to say, that name didn’t go over too well… In any case, here is some vocabulary to help you be vegetarian or vegan in Esperanto:
Kial vi estas ĉiomanĝanto, vegetarano aŭ vegano?
Why are you an omnivore (literally: everything-eater), vegetarian or vegan?
Ĉu tio estas viando aŭ tofuo?
Is that meat or tofu?
(Remember j is pronounced like y.)
Ovoj, fromaĝo kaj mielo estas bestaj produktoj.
Eggs, cheese and honey are animal products.
Kie estas la plej proksima vegetara restoracio?
Where is the nearest vegetarian restaurant?
Do you have a special diet? Tell us about it in the comments!