The Insider’s Vegan Dictionary*

*May contain traces of hyperbole. Manufactured in a facility that also processes humor.

I’m currently on Spring Break and home with my family. We’re all vegan which means that

  1. My veganism is less a young-adult rebellion thing and more a family cohesion thing.
  2. We are obligated to inform others of our vegan state under threat of Official Vegan Law. (Hence this blog post.)

Like any subculture, we risk some ridicule and misunderstandings from members of the dominant culture who don’t understand why we would stray from tradition. Sometimes we are even perceived as a threat to normalcy or “the way things are done” and people become a bit uncomfortable with our existence, which is unfortunate. Other times people are totally accepting, which is always wonderful.

Another part of being part of a subculture is that we have access to a whole bunch of words, phrases, and jokes that not all people in the dominant culture are hip to. So, because I’m into sharing my experiences with words, I’d like to give up all my super secret insider vocabulary to you.

Some of these are just based on my experience and are of my own creation, others have emerged through conversations in person and online with others in the veg*n community.

Without further ado, I present to you:


  • Avocados– Pure delicious.
  • Cannibal Loophole – Some definitions of veganism have to do with consent. For example, mother’s breast milk is entirely vegan because it is willingly given from mother to child. Because of this concept, it is hypothetically possible for cannibalism to be vegan assuming the human flesh in question is given for consumption with informed consent from its owner.
  • Defensive Omnivore – Someone who, upon hearing that someone near them is vegan (or even occasionally just the word vegan) launches into a string of cliches intended to ridicule vegans or simply catch them off guard. This can be anything from talking about how misery makes meat taste better to a discussion on how to best protect innocent plants.
  • Defensive Omnivore Bingo– A bingo chart (created by Brian VanderVeen) that vegans keep with them and play when in a conversation with a Defensive Omnivore. If the Defensive Omnivore says enough cliches in a single conversation to win, you can turn in your Bingo sheet to a super secret vegan organization and earn a lifetime supply of free hummus.
  • 4129322738_d4e5fafd54_o Friend’s Dad Reaction – The sort of reaction someone has to discovering your veganism that launches them into teasing, joke making, or general proclamations of just how amazing steak and bacon are.
  • Friend’s Mom Reaction – The sort of reaction someone has to discovering your veganism that prompts them to ask if it’s okay that they’ve eaten meat near you or if there’s anything they could bring next time. Occasionally this reaction includes genuine concern that you might not get anything to eat.
  • Grandma-Vegan (adjective) – A food that is thoughtfully chosen or a prepared meal thoughtfully made to be accommodating for vegan guests, but contains some animal product. This is not out of malice, but usually out of an mistaken impression that chicken broth or butter is vegan.
  • Grandma-Vegan Dilemma – The dilemma when a vegan must decide whether to eat or turn down Grandma Vegan food, and whether or not to inform the person who chose or made the food that it’s not quite vegan.
  • Guest Dilemma –  The dilemma when a vegan is invited somewhere that food may be served and must decide whether to take their chances and potentially go hungry, to eat beforehand and potentially face the horrible guilt of realizing the host went out of their way to make something vegan, or to bring food with you just in case.
  • Host Dilemma – The dilemma when a vegan is a host and must decide whether cooking something that doesn’t even vaguely resemble what most omnivores are used to eating or to make something with vegan alternatives to animal products that will probably taste weird to them.
  • Ingredients Lists – What vegans spend most of their lives reading.
  • Level 5 Vegan – One who doesn’t eat anything that casts a shadow. This term was derived from an episode of the Simpsons, but I like to imagine it indicates a much larger dietary spectrum divided into levels.

    (-6 ) Murderer cannibals, or zombies
    (-5 ) People who eat primates and kick puppies
    (-4 ) Paleo dieters
    (-3 ) People who love eating meat but also like animals
    (-2 ) Meatless Monday practicers or people who don’t eat red meats
    (-1 ) Pescatarians
    ( 0 ) Flexitarians
    ( 1 ) Vegetarians
    ( 2 ) Vegans
    ( 3 ) Fruititarians
    ( 4 ) Fruititarians who only eat fruit that fell due to natural causes
    ( 5 ) Those who don’t eat anything that casts a shadow
    ( 6 ) Consumes only power and light: achieves autotrophic god-like state.

  • Meathalla – A hypothetical island where there is no source of food except meat, sometimes in the form of a living animal and other times pre-prepared. This island is the subject of the most common philosophical question brought up by inquiring omnivores, often phrased as such: “If you were stuck on an island with nothing to eat but meat, would you eat it?”
    Synonyms: Meat Island, Fleshy Shores.
  •  Nutritional Yeast – The secret spice of vegans that can be added to anything, and non-official sign that a person has now fully embraced veganism.
    Slang synoymn: “Nooch”
  • PETA – An organization secretly funded by the meat industry to make vegans look bad.
  •  Puns – The apparent favorite naming convention for vegan alternatives. (Ex: Egg McMuffin becomes Egg Trick Muffin. Jimmy Dean becomes Gimme Lean.)
  • Scramble – Vegan word for essentially anything that can be thrown into a pan and eaten for breakfast.
  •  Sexy Flexitarian – Those who prefer to eat vegan but are flexible and occasionally eat all sorts of food. They are the perfect hypothetical dates because whether you’re vegan or omnivore, you know they’ll be really into whatever you’re planning to serve.
  • Soy – A food that is used a lot in vegan cooking, especially in the States. (Contrary to the opinions of the subsection of Defensive Omnivores who are also homophobic, soy will not turn you gay.)
  • Veg*n – A word used that can be inclusive of vegetarians and vegans, usually to denote the larger community.
  • Veg*n Skill Trees – Essentially, your decisions help you level up your dietary identity in various directions based on your priorities.
    If you put all your points into ethics, you might end up a fruititarian.
    Put them all into health, you might end up a raw foodist vegetarian.
    Put them into environmentalism you might become a vegan localvore.
    Put them into cultural change, you might become a radical vegan activist.
    Put them into carbs and delicious, you might become a junk food veg*n.

    (I personally divided my points between all of those, so my skill tree is well rounded, but not particularly impressive in any area.)

  • Vegan Zombie Diet – Vegan zombies haven’t been observed yet, but, like regular zombies, their behavior has been the subject of discussion a lot lately.  Some assume that they would pursue grains instead of brains. Others theorize they may go after fungus, humans who are already dead, or just starve.
  •  Vitamin B12 – Nutritional requirement. If you feel compelled to ask a vegan where they get their protein, just substitute “Vitamin B12” for “protein” in the sentence and the vegan in question is guaranteed to respect you 20% more.

If you have any questions or other words to add, feel free to comment! I’ll be eating cheeseless pizza that is essentially a pile of vegetables on an edible dough-plate.