In my last column I wrote about PETA … about the organization’s latest campaign – against what it calls “Anti Animal Language.”
“Just as it became unacceptable to use racist [or] homophobic language,” PETA tweeted, “phrases that trivialize cruelty to animals will vanish as more people begin to appreciate animals for who they are and start ‘bringing home the bagels’ instead of the bacon.”
No more “Beat a dead horse,” if PETA has its way. Instead, “Feed a fed horse.”
No more, “Take the bull by the horns,” in PETA world. It ought to be “Take the flower by the thorns.”
“Words matter,” PETA tells us, “and as our understanding of social justice evolves, our language evolves along with it.”
Yes, words do matter, I wrote. And then I offered a two word description of PETA’s idea: You’re nuts!
But now I’m re-thinking things. Why? Because not long after the column appeared, I got a call from the president of the Vegetarian and Fruitarian Association of America – a man named Russell Sprout.
“PETA is right,” he told me in no uncertain terms. “And we at the Vegetarian and Fruitarian Association of America also want changes in language about fruits and vegetables in order to reflect more kindly on our fruit and veggie friends.”
I thought he was kidding. Turns out he wasn’t.
“Names that suggest the slaughtering of vegetables is not a good thing,” Sprout said. “So let’s stop using the term ‘mashed potatoes.’ Potatoes never hurt anyone. We should not not use violent language to describe a tasty food.”
“Associating food with violence,” he explained, “gives food a bad name,” he said, before adding, ”It leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”
“And scrambled eggs,” he went on, “are not just another bad use of language, scrambling an egg is also a form of homicide.”
“Homicide?” I responded. “Yes, we’re not only consuming the egg, we’re scrambling it first. How would you like it if somebody scrambled you and before she ate you,” he asked in all seriousness.
“I think I wouldn’t like it,” I sheepishly replied.
“The only fruits and vegetables we eat,” he said, “are the ones that are already dead, the ones that fall off trees and have passed away. Eating a living piece of fruit or vegetable makes the eater complicit in the murder of that banana or apple, plain and simple.”
His association, Russell Sprout told me, is also considering changing the name of a food we refer to as “nuts.” Why? “Because the word ‘nuts’ has a bad connotation,” he told me. “It implies the nut — tasty as it may be — is crazy.”
Full disclosure: I feel terrible about making fun of PETA in my last column. And it took Russell Sprout to set me straight. We should treat all fruits and vegetables with respect.
When I told my friend Chris P. Bacon about the call he said it was a real eye-opener to him too. Then he told me that his wife Peaches was under the weather and wanted him to stop off at the bakery and bring home the bagels.