It’s no surprise that slang and colloquial expressions change as the decades pass — groovy! — but one scholar is suggesting things might be shifting faster than we think when it comes to meat-related phrases.
In a post on academic blog The Conversation, postdoctoral researcher at Swansea University Shareena Z. Hamzah writes that while meat has long been considered “the single most important component of any meal … [it’s become] the subject of much socially and politically charged discussion,” especially relating to climate change, health effects and animal rights.
She continues: “Given that fiction often reflects on real world events and societal issues, it may very well be that down the line powerful meat metaphors are eschewed … The increased awareness of vegan issues will filter through our consciousness to produce new modes of expression.”
Some especially popular references to carnivorism that Hamzah thinks aren’t long for this world? “Killing two birds with one stone,” as well as “bringing home the bacon,” “your goose is cooked,” and “chopped liver.”
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The famous animal welfare organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has been advocating for more “animal-friendly idioms” for years. It especially encourages teachers not to use such expressions around students because they “normalize abuse” and can potentially contribute to “the epidemic of youth violence toward animals.”
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Some alternatives PETA suggests are: “Take the flower by the thorns” instead of taking the bull; “be the test tube” rather than the guinea pig; and “feed a fed horse” instead of “beat a dead horse.”
A representative for PETA stressed their stance on the issue to PEOPLE after Hamzah’s article was published.
“Words matter, and as our understanding of social justice evolves, our language evolves along with it,” they said in a statement. “Just as it became unacceptable to use racist, homophobic, or ableist language, phrases that trivialize cruelty to animals will vanish as more people begin to appreciate animals for who they are and start ‘bringing home the bagels’ instead of the bacon.”
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