Here is a post I just made on the vegan forums:
[QUOTE=Stuart;661837]it is precisely this type of linguistic pedantary I am making an appeal to (yes! it is a linguistic concern!) Words have meanings do they not? And this term is servicable only for the purpose of grouping. [/QUOTE]
I completely agree that we need linguistic clarity on this. Semantics are important. Especially here.
While I hear what other people are saying about vegan being difficult (understanding the mindset), I completely disagree, and I don't think that we should ever portray it as such. Aside from a little bit of self-pity over not being able to eat at quite so many restaurants, being vegan is not difficult at all. Vegetarianism is not a logical stepping stone into veganism, and philosophically they are VERY different. Veganism is a logical stepping stone into veganism. :P If anything we should have a word for cutting out eggs and dairy FIRST! Vegetarianism focuses on phenomena, rather than noumena. I know that may sound zealous, but it is simply semantic accuracy and logical coherence.
It is also relevant to consider that vegetarianism is not logically consistent. It doesn't make any coherent sense when you break it down. Also, I don't tend to find vegetarians all that receptive to veganism myself (and yes that is anecdotal). Regardless of how I bring it up, I am usually faced with a resistance (for my being strange and for my addressing an issue that creates cognitive dissonance) as if they are already doing enough. Please keep in mind that this is anecdotal, so it is not meant to apply to all and every, but only my experience. Hey, I think that any of us would feel more comfortable around vegetarians than omnis (all else being equal), but that's hardly the point. What do the animals gain from this ambiguity? That comfort seems more a sign of this ambiguity than a real similarity in philosophy.
At the end of the day we all have much more in common than we do in difference: from our DNA to the way we react to love, but that can never bridge the gap between vegan and vegetarian. Vegan has never been just about diet; simply put it is about treating nonhuman animals as if they matter at all, as if they have any interests that could trump the most trivial of ours. Vegetarianism can't make a coherent claim in approaching animals in general. It merely provides the illusion that it does.
I love omnivores and vegetarians alike, but I don't see any benefit to calling a boulder a stepping stone (when no one can see around the other side of it). Veganism is only hard when you are raised to believe it is, and you buy into the lie - I acknowledge that there are circumstances where veganism is not so possible, whether that be for a man in northern Nunavut to a family eating 'bush meat' in Tanzania to an adolescent girl in Saudi Arabia.
Calling vegetarianism a stepping stone may create some bridges, but it also seems to concretize the cognitive dissonance created by this label (of "vegan"). Cognitive dissonance is our nemesis in helping these exquisite creatures. We can all speculate about how many vegetarians will become vegan and how many omnis would become vegetarian vs. vegan; however, one thing that does not require anecdotal speculation is the fact that veganism makes more sense than vegetarianism. Why would we ever want to dilute that? At the end of the day veganism needs to be more normal than vegetarianism. I don't know if that is possible, but it is necessary.
***note on my blog. I am tired ... I can't sleep, but I do not doubt that I will agree with what I wrote when I am fully in control of my capacities.