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2008: Year of the Vegangelicals & the Retrovores?

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"Locavore" was 2007's Word of the Year, according to the Oxford University Press. The "eat local" movement got a big boost from writers like Barbara Kingsolver and Michael Pollan, and a spate of news stories about "food miles" got folks thinking more about curbing their carbon footprint than cutting back on carbohydrates.

Now, we're only one week into the new year, but we've already got two new words to add to the Ethicurean lexicon: vegangelical, and retrovore.

A vegangelical is, as you may have guessed, a zealous vegan determined to convert meat eaters and dairy drinkers by any means necessary. Take Kim Barnouin and Rory Freedman, the authors of the best-selling Skinny Bitch and its follow-up, Skinny Bitch in the Kitch, for example; by slipping their vegan agenda into an irreverent, edgy "diet" book, they managed to con thousands of unsuspecting calorie-challenged carnivores into buying a book which is, as the New York Times described it, a "peculiar combination of girl power, tough love and gross-out tales from the slaughterhouse."

But isn't it kind of unethical to trick people into becoming ethical eaters? And how empowering is it, really, to call yourself a bitch? I prefer the upfront approach of Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, who were on NPR's Weekend Edition yesterday to promote their Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook. Moskowitz and Romero, hosts of the Post Punk Kitchen tv show & website, may be hardcore vegans, but they're not into the "shock and ugh" style favored by the self-proclaimed bitches; they're all about "happiness and fluffy white bunnies and running through the daisy fields barefoot, throwing tofu at passers-by and sprinkling all the earth's creatures with magical nutritional yeast." Which of these two dairy-defying duos would you rather have over for seitan stroganoff? I'll take the punks over the bitches any day.

On to new word #2: retrovore. A Texan farmer by the name of Loncito coined this one, according to my fellow Kossack Jill Richardson who was chatting with Loncito and his son at an Austin farmers' market. As Jill wrote in a dairy on Daily Kos yesterday, the son told his father "Dad, if you didn't raise animals the way you do, I'd probably be a vegan."

Loncito agreed that he probably would be, too. And that, Jill wrote, is when "they came up with the term "retrovore"--"one who eats food that was raised the way it should have been raised... like they used to do it before they learned how to ruin it."

This word dovetails nicely with Michael Pollan's edict "Don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food." According to NPR's Liane Hanson, "2008 will be the year of ethical eating; vegetarian and locally produced food will grace more tables; wines will be more than organic, they'll be biodynamic; there will be servings of micro-greens you grow yourself..." In other words, more of us will be breaking free from the conventional food chain and getting back to the garden. I guess it's too early to nominate "retrovore" for 2008's Word of the Year, but I thought I'd give it a running start. Better not look to the vegangelicals to help me spread the grass-fed gospel, though.

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