Monday, 2 April 2018

Celebrating religion and dietary terminology!

So that’s Easter out of the way.

Well, not quite in the Uk because we still have Easter Monday to contend with. And Easter Monday this year is cold and bleak with snow and/or rain all over the place. I looked out at the snow-covered pavements and the sleety rain - not even gentle enough to be called snizzle this morning - and decided that a run was out of the question.

Here is a link to pictures of Easter celebrations in various parts of the world. I particularly like the description of a procession in Granada:

“The procession of the Risen Holy Child, a Spanish tradition, sees about 150 people light 10,000 firecrackers to celebrate the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday.”

You have to admire the Spanish for combining religious celebrations with an element of fiesta. In Santiago de Compostela on the eve of the feast of Saint James the set off a massive firework display on the front of the cathedral at midnight. It’s an amazing sight! But a firework display is one thing and firecrackers, the crashing, banging essential of so many non-religious fiestas, is something else again.

Only in Spain!

Yesterday’s paper was going on a lot about veganism. Here are some odd facts:

  • The term “vegan” was coined by a woodwork teacher in 1944, Donald Watson. Here’s some information about him, his obituary: he died at 95. 
  • Terms he rejected included “dairyban”, “vitan” and “benevore”. 
  •  There has been a 350% rise in the number of vegans in Britain from 2006 to 2016. 
  • 60% of the 168,000 people who took part in Veganuary in 2018 were under 35. 
  • Even Jeremy Corbyn has done his bit for veganism; vegetarian for 50 years he has piblicly expressed admiration for vegan friends. 
  • Veganism is now linked to a thirst for justice. 

I am a former (long ago now) macrobiotic vegetarian and now more or less a pescatarian, with a bit of chicken-eating thrown in there. I am a little wary of anything too extreme. Trying to find a term that fits my current eating habits I came across a couple of interesting bits of information:-

  • The difference between vegetarian, vegan, and other diets The word vegetarian sprouted up in 1839. Fruitarian ("a person who lives on fruit") ripened by 1893. In 1944, vegetarians who consume no animal or dairy products began calling themselves vegans. Then, in 1993, those who eat fish but no other meat chose pesce, the Italian word for "fish," to create the designation pescatarian. In that same year, meatatarian was served up as a word for those whose diet largely includes meat; that word is rare, however, and is usually used in informal and humorous ways, making it the type of fare not included in our dictionaries. Another fairly recent dietary word is flexitarian, a person who follows a mostly vegetarian diet but occasionally eats meat or fish.Are Pescetarians the Same as Semi-Vegetarians or Flexitarians?  Not really, but sort of. A "semi-vegetarian" -or a "flexitarian"- is someone who eats a mostly vegetarian diet, occasionally supplemented by meat, though there's no real agreed upon definition of how often one can eat meat and still call themselves a semi-vegetarian or a flexitarian: Once a day? Once a week? Once a month? Pescetarians are not restricted to "occasional" fish and may eat fish as little or as frequently as they prefer. 

Some people call “pescatarians” “pescetarians” or even “piscatarians”, depending on the etymology you choose to work by. Then there are the really picky etymologists:

  • Pescatarian: surely that means an eater of peaches. Pescetarian would be pronounced pessetarian, since c before e is almost uniformly soft in English words of Latin origin. Sounds like something rude. Of course it is pescetariano in Italian. The Italian word for fish is pesce, with soft c. But pesca with a hard c is a peach. Piscatarian is a modern coining. So to some extent spell it how you like and see what catches on. But if you want a hard C it makes sense to place an A after the C, because c before e is almost uniformly soft e. 
 I give up on the whole labelling thing: just eat what you like - within reason, of course.

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