Ever thought about how the language you use in everyday parlance might be offending vegans or those who choose not to eat animal products?
Or would that be opening a can of linguistic worms?
An academic has claimed English language phrases such as “bring home the bacon” and “putting all your eggs in one basket” will be phased out in favour of alternatives like “bring home the bagels” and “all your berries in a bowl”.
Animal rights charity Peta has been campaigning on this issue for a while but researcher Shareena Hamzah from Swansea University now predicts that as awareness of veganism grows, we’ll start eating our words too.
Up for debate are not only those phrases that make reference to non-plant based food items, but idioms that arguably promote animal cruelty.
For example, “flogging a dead horse” (which Peta says could be changed to “feeding a fed horse”), “be the guinea pig” (“be the test tube”) and “more than one way to skin a cat” (“more than one way to peel a potato”).
The charity has been campaigning to change the way these phrases are used in schools to change the way children are thinking about animal cruelty.
Peta’s website says: “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. Teaching students to use animal-friendly language can cultivate positive relationships.”
And Hamzah agrees that although at the moment this might seem far-fetched, society should be thinking about how we use words in relation to animals.
“If veganism forces us to confront the realities of food’s origins, then this increased awareness will undoubtedly be reflected in our language and literature,” Hamzah wrote on The Conversation.
“The increased awareness of vegan issues will filter through consciousness to produce new modes of expression.”
And changing these phrases need not take away the power of the words, Hamzah argued. “The image of ‘killing two birds with one stone’ is, if anything, made more powerful by the animal-friendly alternative of ‘feeding two birds with one scone’.”