Dear friends,

I often run into people who do not know the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian. I easily explain to them that a vegetarian does not eat meat, while a vegan does not eat meat or any animal products. There are also pescatarians who eat fish, lacto-ovo vegetarians who eat dairy and eggs, etc. Today I had a new experience though.

I was talking to an English professor at my university. She is originally from Taiwan and knows Chinese, but got her PhD at an American university. She runs the International Club on campus and extended an invitation to me for joining because she knows I love culture. I told her I would love to come and she said to come hungry because they eat food at the meetings. I told her thank you but I am vegan so most food I cannot eat. She said "don't worry, we have lots of food with chicken and fish". I said, "No I don't eat meat". She said "but vegetarians just don't eat red meat." I said no but she said her friends do. In other countries (outside America) are there people considered vegetarians even though they eat chicken and fish?

Then she offered to make food with no meat, but with eggs and milk. I explained to her that vegans do not eat any animal products. She said "but it doesn't kill the animal". I didn't want to argue with a professor but I told her I still do not eat those things. She said originally vegan just meant no meat. Am I missing something? Does the meaning of vegetarian change between countries or was it maybe a language barrier?

Wikipedia defines veganism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veganism

Not eating it,

Lauren :)

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Sounds like a culture issue to me. But, as I'm not from around her parts, I can't be 100% sure. But it just sounds as if she was confused. It might mean something different or she was just lumping it with the closest thing she knew which were her friends that didn't eat red meat.

Living just south of Taiwan and no stranger to such unsettling remarks, it's obvious that this part of the world is home to misconceptions about vegetarianism. There's a dearth of icons who champion the lifestyle, hence its unpopularity. Even some of my closest blood relations think I just 'like' vegetables. 

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