In this article I am going to knock down two coconuts with a single stone, inviting you to join me in removing degrading and/or violent animal euphemism from your language while accentuating the roles beautiful animal symbolism plays in our lives.
Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where we don’t refer to the final meeting of congress under an administration as the “lame duck” session? Why not just refer to it as a time of inevitable transition?
Once we graduate from using the misfortune of our animal friends to express something negative, it makes it more obvious when language is used to assign a subservient function to non-human living beings. For example, real food is never “raised,” it is grown. The more conscious you are in addressing your own language, the more aware you will be of how imbedded animal phrases and symbols are in the world. Do we really need to assign a negative connotation to a perfectly natural trait of an animal? Why do we need to say that some shady activity “smells fishy”?
Is there certain terminology that we want to preserve or are such words as “meat” too strongly associated with the violence of an animal-based meal on a plate? Nut milks have had more success than nut meats in the language department, in my humble opinion.
As a vegan, I still catch myself using animal phrases, but I also observe myself in the act, which is making me more successful in extinguishing them. People around me have learned to use phrases such as “let’s take another kick at the can” instead of using the other version of this phrase that they know will make me upset.
There are many examples of our species using animals as positive symbols such as the dove representing peace.
Is this still objectifying an animal and does it matter? I love seeing doves in artwork as a representation of what is beautiful and good. I am not as excited about people using the actual animal for a ceremony, such as releasing 100 pigeons at a wedding. I also do not support using the happy cow image to portray dairy products as wholesome and good.
For me, communicating with gentle, kind, truthful language is part of setting an intention of peace in the new year. I can help more animals that way, including the human animal.
Sonya Sidky is a Main Street Vegan-certified Master Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator (MVLCE). Her website is www.actualizedvegan.com.