W is for Winkle

Winkle    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  edible sea snail.

Our definition:  A winkle is a small herbivorous shore-dwelling mollusc with a spiral shell.   Winkle is also a common name applied to numerous different species of small, round snails.  These are often species of sea snails, but also some small round freshwater snails, and even some land snails that have an operculum (a secreted plate that closes the aperture of a gastropod mollusc’s shell when the animal is retracted).

Click here for the W page, and here for the rest of the vegan dictionary 😀

V is for Vegan

V v

Vegan    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  person who does not eat animals or animal products.

Our definition:  To be vegan means to try to do no harm to all animals, including humans, and the planet on which everyone depends.  This means a vegan will do their best to avoid all animal products in their food, clothes and possessions.  They will choose only fair trade and organic whenever possible, and will reduce, reuse and recycle to protect the world and its inhabitants from plastic pollution.  They will also avoid any activity or practice which exploits or abuses animals, such as visiting a zoo or buying animal-tested toiletries.

Just try to do no harm.  Easy 😀

Click here for the V page and here for the rest of the dictionary.

Have a lovely weekend 😀

U is for unethical, unprincipled, unkind ….

Why photograph

Killing animals is unethical,

It’s unprincipled and unkind.

Eating meat is unhealthy,

It’s unsavoury and unsound.


So why do humans do it,

This unsightly unwholesome crime?

It’s unwarrantable, it’s unwarranted

And entirely unjustified.

Why photograph - Copy

The U page is right here, and the whole dictionary is just there 😀

I is for Inhuman


Working on the vegan dictionary continues to be a very educational experience.  Finding words which are defined in a way that normalises animal exploitation, (such as animals being described simply in terms of how they taste or how they are used by humans; or horrible, violent practices described in a brief, matter-of-fact way as if they are perfectly normal and inoffensive) and then redefining them so that they tell the whole story, good or bad.  I’m finding out a lot of very interesting facts about animals I previously knew nothing about, as well as a lot of very upsetting things which are hidden from the general population in order to preserve the status quo.

Today I was leafing through the i section of the dictionary and, unusually, finding nothing that needed redefining …. until I reached inhuman, described thus in the Oxford Dictionary:

adjective:    brutal; unfeeling; barbarous

And the synonyms for inhuman, given in the thesaurus section, are:

animal, barbaric, barbarous, bestial, bloodthirsty, brutal, brutish, diabolical, fiendish, inhumane, merciless, pitiless, ruthless, savage, unfeeling, unnatural, vicious.

Now I’m confused.

Isn’t it humans who enslave and brutalise animals for pleasure and profit?  Isn’t it humans who are so unfeeling that they steal a baby from his mother and kill him so that they can have his mother’s milk for themselves?  Isn’t it humans who show no mercy to the billions of terrified, innocent individuals who are savagely and routinely killed en masse?

With the exception of the word ‘animal’ it seems to me that those synonyms should be in the dictionary next to the word human, not inhuman.

The thing is that humans, most of them, do think of themselves as good and kind, decent and compassionate, and the dictionary reflects that.  But, however good and charitable a human might be towards other humans, if their compassion doesn’t extend to other species then is not a part of them still barbaric, merciless, unfeeling, pitiless, ruthless and savage, albeit perhaps unwittingly so?  Even if they do not commit the fiendish acts themselves; even if they are horrified at the idea of hurting a living being; if they know about it and still choose to pay for it, are they not directly and deliberately responsible for it?  And isn’t that diabolical?

The good news is that it is entirely possible to make the Oxford Dictionary definition correct.  If all humans went vegan (as nature intended) then the word human really would be synonymous with compassionate, and inhuman would mean what the Oxford Dictionary says it means 🙂

F is for Falcon

F is for falcon

Falcon    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  Small hawk trained to hunt.

Our definition:  A falcon is any one of 37 species of raptor in the genus Falco, widely distributed on all continents of the world except Antarctica.

Adult falcons have thin tapered wings, which enable them to fly at high speed and to change direction rapidly.  Fledgling falcons, in their first year of flying, have longer flight feathers, which makes their configuration more like that of a general-purpose bird such as a broadwing.  This makes it easier to fly while learning the exceptional skills required to be effective hunters as adults.

Peregrine falcons have been recorded diving at speeds of 200 miles per hour (320 km/h), making them the fastest-moving creatures on Earth.  Other falcons include the gyrfalcon, lanner falcon, and the merlin.  Some small falcons with long narrow wings are called hobbies, and some which hover while hunting are called kestrels.

As is the case with many birds of prey, falcons have exceptional powers of vision; the visual acuity of one species has been measured at 2.6 times that of a normal human.


Click on the pic for the F page of our vegan dictionary, or see the link in the sidebar to your right

Click on the pic for the F page of our vegan dictionary, or see the link in the sidebar to your right

D is for Donkey

D is for donkey

Donkey    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  1. Domestic ass  2. colloquial stupid person

Our definition:  The donkey’s wild ancestor, the African Wild Ass, is well suited to life in a desert or semi-desert environment, having a tough digestive system which can break down desert vegetation and extract moisture from food efficiently. They can also go without water for a fairly long time. Their large ears give them an excellent sense of hearing and help in cooling.  Because of the sparse vegetation in their environment wild asses live somewhat separated from each other (except for mothers and young), unlike the tightly grouped herds of wild horses. They have very loud voices, which can be heard for over 3 km (1.9 mi), which helps them to keep in contact with other asses over the wide spaces of the desert.

Mature males defend large territories around 23 square kilometres in size, marking them with dung heaps – an essential marker in the flat, monotonous terrain.  Due to the size of these ranges, the dominant male cannot exclude other males. Rather, intruders are tolerated—recognized and treated as subordinates, and kept as far away as possible from any of the resident females.

Wild asses can run swiftly, almost as fast as a horse.  However, their tendency is to not flee right away from a potentially dangerous situation, but to investigate first before deciding what to do.  When they need to, they can defend themselves with kicks from both their front and hind legs.

Though the species itself is under no threat of extinction, due to abundant domestic stock, the two extant wild subspecies are both listed as critically endangered.  African wild asses have been captured for domestication for centuries, and this, along with interbreeding between wild and domestic animals, has caused a distinct decline in population numbers. There are now only a few hundred individuals left in the wild.  These animals are also hunted for food and for traditional medicine in both Ethiopia and Somalia.  Competition with domestic livestock for grazing, and restricted access to water supplies caused by agricultural developments, pose further threats to their survival.  The African wild ass is legally protected in the countries where it is currently found, although these measures often prove difficult to enforce.

There are more than 40 million ‘domesticated’ donkeys in the world, mostly in developing countries where they are used principally as draught or pack animals. Working donkeys are often associated with those living at or below subsistence levels. Small numbers of donkeys are kept for breeding or as pets in developed countries.

The Donkey Sanctuary in Devon works hard to transform the quality of life for donkeys, mules and people worldwide through greater understanding, collaboration and support, and by promoting lasting, mutually life-enhancing relationships.  They work inclusively with people frequently marginalised within their own countries and communities, whether due to poverty, ignorance, race, gender or disabilities. They treat every interaction as a two-way opportunity to learn and to teach. “We know that it is only together that we can help donkey owners and carers become donkey welfare ambassadors wherever they live and work.”

Dr Elisabeth Svendsen, in love with them since childhood, made it her life’s mission to rescue abused, neglected and abandoned donkeys and founded The Donkey Sanctuary in 1969.  She said,

“To me they are the most beautiful, the most underrated animals in the world – and, as long as they need my help, they shall have it.”



is finished for the time being.

Click on the picture or go to the dictionary in the sidebar 🙂 And now, on to E e

Rethinking the language with a vegan dictionary

vegan dictionary

So often we realise, and sometimes we don’t realise, that the words we use normalise animal exploitation and degradation.  A man might be angrily referred to as a ‘pig’ because he behaves in an obnoxious or sexist manner; a person might be called an ‘animal’ if they are aggressive or bad mannered; some animals are described by the way they taste instead of by characteristics which actually tell us something about them as individuals; people are desensitised to the harsh realities which face captive animals every day because words, like ‘abattoir’ for example, are defined simply as slaughterhouse which doesn’t begin to convey the horror and becomes an accepted and unquestioned fact that doesn’t make people recoil or revolt.

The other side of this coin is that some words are only described in relation to animal farming when in fact there is so much more to them (see alfalfa).

So we thought it would be a good idea to make a vegan dictionary, with words defined from a vegan point of view, and we’ll keep it high up in the sidebar for easy reference.  It will take a long time to complete – so far I have just done A! – but it is a very interesting endeavour and I am enjoying it.


I began by referring to my big old Oxford dictionary.  I went through the A section, page by page, and every time I came across a word which normalised animal exploitation or degradation, or which was defined in a way which did, I copied it down and defined it honestly and fully to the best of my ability.  I also include the Oxford definition in my dictionary for comparison.

You can find the dictionary by clicking on the picture at the top of this post, or on the picture of the dictionary in the sidebar and that will take you to links to the lettered pages – so far, as I said, just A, but I’ll get started on B today!

I believe that most people, whether they be veg*n or not, have compassion for animals and the reason that many of those who feel love for other species still eat some of them is because they have been conditioned from birth not to question it.  It is deeply embedded in the language they speak.

When I was 13 I told my dad that I wanted to be vegetarian and he asked me why.  I told him that it was because I didn’t want animals to be killed.  He explained to me earnestly that it was all done humanely; that they don’t suffer.  He didn’t know that.  He didn’t know anything about animal farming or slaughter, but he believed it to be true.  He had been told that there were regulations in place to make sure the animals didn’t suffer and he believed it.  And he told me that it was true.  And that’s what most people think:  it is normal, it is natural and it is humane.

But it isn’t any of those things so we need a new normal, and it starts with the language.