Bringing home the bacon, your goose is cooked. Picture: iStock
Bringing home the bacon, your goose is cooked. Picture: iStock

Common phrase now offensive

Common phrases like "bring home the bacon" and "put all your eggs in one basket" have been deemed offensive to vegans and vegetarians, who want them replaced with animal-friendly alternatives like "bring home the bagels" and "put all your berries in one bowl".

Instead of "kill two birds with one stone" we should say "feed two birds with one scone". "Take the bull by the horns" should become "take the flower by the thorns". No longer should we "beat a dead horse" but instead "feed a fed horse". And rather than "let the cat out of the bag", we should simply "spill the beans".

According to one academic, as increased awareness of vegan issues filters through society, meat-based metaphors may end up being ditched from the language altogether.

"If veganism forces us to confront the realities of food's origins, then this increased awareness will undoubtedly be reflected in our language and our literature," Swansea University researcher Shareena Hamzah wrote in The Conversation.

According to Dr Hamzah, meat is "more than just a form of sustenance, it is the very king of all foods".

"Historically, the resources required to obtain meat meant it was mainly the preserve of the upper classes, while the peasantry subsisted on a mostly vegetarian diet," she writes.

"As a result, the consumption of meat was associated with dominant power structures in society, its absence from the plate indicating disadvantaged groups, such as women and the poor. To control the supply of meat was to control the people."

Dr Hamzah, whose research interests include contemporary literature, women's writing, gender and sexuality studies, equates meat to the "patriarchal mindset of the early 20th century" when "a man's right to eat the best meat is unquestioned".

"Meat is power, meat is for men," she writes.

"(In Jeanette Winterson's novel The Passion), the main female character, Villanelle, sells herself to Russian soldiers in order to have some of their scarce and valuable supply of meat. The female body is just another type of meat for these men and carnivorous desire leads to carnal pleasure."

Today, she argues, meat is "repeatedly the subject of much socially and politically charged discussion, including about how the demand for meat is contributing to climate change and environmental degradation".

"Studies have indicated the negative effects of meat-eating on the human body," she writes. "When concerns about animal welfare are added to the broth, the growth of vegetarianism and veganism threatens to dethrone meat from its position at the top of the food hierarchy."

Animal rights groups PETA has been campaigning for "animal-friendly idioms" for years. On its website, it provides helpful alternatives for teachers to "common phrases that perpetuate violence toward animals".

"While these phrases may seem harmless, they carry meaning and can send mixed signals to students about the relationship between humans and animals and can normalise abuse," the organisation says.

"The words that we use have the power to influence those around us. Teaching students to use animal-friendly language can cultivate positive relationships between all beings and help end the epidemic of youth violence toward animals."



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