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Removing Violence and Speciesism from Our Language

Removing Violence and Speciesism from Our Language

Pigs are clean! Speciesism

    Speciesism vs Animal-Friendly Idioms

If you’ve been involved in the animal rights world, you’ll remember when PETA came out with their list of Animal-Friendly Idioms. PETA cleverly pointed out the speciesism that exists in our everyday language and offered some delightful alternatives. These included changing common phrases like “kill two birds with one stone” into non-violent ones like “feed two birds with one scone.” 

PETA's 2018 tweet listing compassionate alternatives to speciesist language
PETA’s 2018 tweet listing compassionate alternatives to speciesist language marked a turning point in animal rights.

My non-vegan friends laugh at the phrases that PETA came up with, as their idea of animal rights is distorted by traditional media’s portrayal of militant activists. What they fail to realize is the compassion with which we act. Our diet and lifestyle are guided by a deep sense of empathy for all sentient beings, and a strong belief in non-violence. 

Removing Violence from Our Language

It is beyond me why so many seem to be somehow threatened by animal-friendly replacements for traditional speciesist phrases. From a young age, we learn about the world through language. We are taught these phrases by our parents, our families, and our teachers, and they guide how we see the world. I would much rather talk to my children about taking the flower by the thorns than taking the bull by the horns. When we reorient our language to be positive and nonviolent, we can change the lens through which we see the entire world. 

What Exactly Is Speciesism?

Who decided humans are the superior beings? — That’s speciesism. As far as I’m concerned, we’ve created a pretty troubled society. And, who decided that dogs deserve a place as man’s best friend and not pigs — that’s speciesism.

Violence and the belief of superiority over others and our natural world is central to the problems we face as a society. This belief in dominance, over nature, natural resources and animals, is responsible for the climate crisis. We must acknowledge our coexistence in this world and act with peace and cooperation.  

I urge you to take a look at the language you use daily without thinking about it. Psychology Today says, “language [focuses] our perception, attention, and thought on specific aspects of the world.” What is our language advocating for? A core aspect of veganism is critically evaluating the conventions of our world. We must imagine better for ourselves, animals, and our environment. 

In the meantime, I think I’ll start loudly, confidently, and unironically using the phrase, “feeding two birds with one scone,” to the dismay of my silly meat-eating friends. And, while I’m at it, I think I’ll come up with some more animal-friendly idioms. 

Alternatives to Speciesism

You may have heard some people say, 

“Don’t beat a dead horse.” — It generally means that we’ve already discussed this so it would be redundant to go over it again. But this could definitely be expressed in a way that doesn’t involve violence toward animals. There are other ways to say something is pointless. 

Let’s try:

“No need to mow a freshly cut lawn.”

How about the classic:

“Your room is a pigsty!” — This one is just plain wrong. According to Nat Geo Kids, pigs are in fact very clean. The problem comes when they roll in mud to cool off, which isn’t a bad idea, but it gives them the appearance of being dirty. When pigs are able to live in a cool space, they don’t need to roll in the mud, so it’s probably just our fault. 

Lotus the Pig

Take a look at Lotus, a TikTok famous pig, who lives at Full Circle farm sanctuary. @fullcirclefarmsanctuary

She decorates her house with flowers! Is that not the cutest thing ever?!

See Also
Here is a baby elephant with mom in the wild, where they belong. Courtesy Voice for Asian Elephants Society.

Here are more pig friends at Full Circle Farm Sanctuary: 



Instead of calling someone’s dirty room a “pigsty,” how about we say, “your room is a garbage dump.”  Garbage dumps are much dirtier than pigs and entirely disgusting. 

Check Your Speech for Speciesism

Next time you find yourself about to say one of these phrases, check yourself. Is what you are going to say contributing to speciesism? Is it even accurate? Let’s fill our speech with more kindness and love toward animals. 

Let us know what you think

If you can think of any other idioms that need animal-friendly alternatives, make sure to let us know on our Instagram! @JaneUnChainedNews

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  • Yes! I’ve been called out for using “fishing around” then I caught myself using “bullseye”… completely unaware of the association of violence toward sentient beings. Language evolves, this is proof…we are creating change. Thank you.

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