Growing up, I didn’t think much about what I ate (seriously, I was anti-vegetable), which is why it took me until I was in my twenties to realize my love of animals didn’t align with my diet, prompting me to go vegan. And as a journalist, I like to think I choose my words carefully—but some idioms have become so ingrained in my vocabulary, they slip from my lips without a second thought. Which is why, even though I traded meat and dairy for tofu and mylk years ago, I still catch myself saying common phrases that aren’t exactly animal-friendly.
Idioms like “kill two birds with one stone,” for starters. Killing birds isn’t nice, even if you’re doing so efficiently! But old habits die hard, and phrases like “bringing home the bacon” have been around for a long, long time (that particular one may date back to the 1100s). Which is, in part, why I definitely won’t be replacing them with things like “bring home the bagels” anytime soon.
Words matter, and as our understanding of social justice evolves, our language evolves along with it. Here’s how to remove speciesism from your daily conversations. pic.twitter.com/o67EbBA7H4
— PETA (@peta) December 4, 2018
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) recently tweeted a list of anti-animal phrases and suggestions for updated, animal-positive replacements. “Words matter, and as our understanding of social justice evolves, our language evolves along with it,” the tweet reads.
And I totally agree. The language we use to speak about many different topics needs to change. (I’m thinking, for instance, about the scrutiny that’s been placed on flippantly using words like “crazy” and “insane.”) With that being said, I’m going to be honest: While the new idioms PETA proposes—like “feed two birds with one scone” or “take the flower by the thorns”—are undoubtedly adorbs, I can’t imagine a scenario in which I could use them without people—vegan friends, included!—giving me a “WTF is she talking about?” eyebrow raise.
Don’t get me wrong—I love how PETA is bringing attention to the way we casually bandy about words that might be counter to our values. And someday, I hope phrases like “bring home the bagels” are the norm (fingers crossed!). But for now, I think I’m going to make it my goal to remove the less-than-stellar anti-animal language from my vocabulary entirely by choosing more creative turns of phrase instead—idioms are often clichés, after all—and save these cute idioms for my Instagram captions.
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