Sunday, December 5, 2010

We Need a New Word

Now that 7-Eleven is selling vegan food, you know the movement has been co-opted and it's time to find another word to replace "vegan." This is not news, of course -- other (better) words have been used in place of "vegan" for a while now, "plant-based" and "nutritarian" being two good examples. The point is that one can be a vegan by living on Twinkies and Ho-Ho's and potato chips -- but that's not exactly what the vegan movement has stood for, at least on the nutrition side.

The same has happened to "organic." Once the USDA took ownership of that term, it began to be used by corporations selling dog food and shampoo and other things that were never part of the movement. So a lot of old-school (and many new-school) organic farmers refused to participate in the USDA system (which basically disallows use of the word "organic" unless you're certified by the government) and created new labels: "Beyond Organic," "Natural" and others.

It's the life-cycle of good ideas: message > mission >movement > monstrosity > monument > memory > new message.

Of course, it's good that healthier choices of food are being offered in 7-Elevens -- which is actually not a huge accomplishment. Here's hoping some of the regular 7-Eleven clientele will try them.

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