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Thread: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

  1. #1
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    Some people may say that if a member of vegan tribe stranded on a desert island and ate an egg from a bird to survive, he'd then become an omnivore, although it only happened once. Hmf. Anyway - here are some common definitions.


    Many will use omnivore or 'omni' about 'someone who eats all kinds of food', meaning that vegetarians and vegans aren't omnivores.

    Others will state that a species that is perfectly capable of eating animal products without any unwanted side effects are omnivores, and say that 'omnivore' in this case don't take into consideration whether single persons actually do eat animal products or not. In order to document that these people are able to 'survive well' even if they consume eg. cow's milk or meat, they'd need to document that the many diseases associated with using these animal products aren't caused by using these animal products as such, but. of modern processing of these animal products.

    The top hit on Google for omnivore (from wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn) is "a person who eats all kinds of foods". This would actually mean that in a society where milk from other species are considered food - a person who eats meat, but not dairy products or eg. fish technically wouldn't be an omnivore.... or? The definition is attached to single persons, not to species (when used about humans).

    Is a lacto-vegetarian an omnivore if the only animal matter he eats is eg. cheese? Or eggs? I guess the answer is no, since omnivore isn't only about eating one type of animal matter or another... In general, I think the word 'omnivore' often creates more confusion than most other words (as we have seen in our different threads about human evolution).

    Here are some more definitions I found in Google:

    Definitions of omnivore on the Web:

    • a person who eats all kinds of foods
    • an animal that feeds on both animal and vegetable substances
    wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

    •Omnivores (from Latin: omne all, everything; vorare to devour) are species that eat both plants and animals as their primary food source. ...
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omnivore

    •An animal which is able to consume both plants (like a herbivore) and meat (like a carnivore)
    en.wiktionary.org/wiki/omnivore

    omnivorous - feeding on both plants and animals
    wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

    •A species that eats both meat and vegetable matter.
    www.loaches.com/working-glossary

    •an organism whose diet consists of a wide variety of foodstuffs, including plants and animals
    www.coris.noaa.gov/glossary/glossary_l_z.html

    •omnivorous - Birds that eat anything that is considered digestible/edible. American Crows are a common example.
    http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/learn...ds-about-birds

    •An omnivorous animal (omnivore) eats and digests both vegetable and animal foods. Green iguanas are herbivorous and eat only vegetable matter. Crocodiles are carnivorous and eat a wide variety of animals. Marmosets are omnivorous and eat both meat and vegetable foods.
    www.crocodyluspark.com/glossary.htm

    •An organism that eats both plant and animal material
    http://www.skitsap.wednet.edu/145820...Vocabulary.doc

    •Referring to the habit of consuming a broad variety of plant and animal foods
    www.sdnhm.org/exhibits/mystery/fg_glossary.html

    •Also: omnivorous, omnivory animal that consumes all kinds of food, particularly both animals and plants
    pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/glossary

    •One that eats meaty foods and vegetable foods.
    www.aquahobby.com/articles/e_glossary.php

    •Eating both plants and animals. OPERCULUM: A lid or flap of skin covering an opening. Examples are the flap of skin covering the gills of some fish and the hard calcite cover of the snail shell opening when the snail is drawn up inside the shell. ...
    omp.gso.uri.edu/ompweb/doee/glossary/glossary.htm

    •eats anything
    www.carnegiemnh.org/mollusks/glossary.htm
    Most of these 15 definitions specifically mention meat/animals or use phrases like "all kinds of food" or "anything" (which therefore of course include meat/animals). Since no non-human animals continue to drink milk throughout their lives, and don't drink milk from other species, "animal matter" when used about animals realistically refers to eating parts of others' bodies, and not to drinking their milk.

    Please let's not turn this thread into another "are humans natural omnivores"-discussion - we already have a few such threads! I'm only starting this thread to try to find out how you guys normally use the word omnivore.

    The word 'omni' has been used hundreds, if not thousands of times on this board to loosely describe a person who eats "anything". Personally - when we talk about humans - I use the word omnivorous about single individuals, not about humans as a species, because it's obvious that there are hundreds of millions who don't eat meat, and since this is a vegan forum, we also obviously agree also that humans as a species don't need meat to survive and have a healthy life. I do not consider myself an omnivore.

    When talking about other animals, I normally use carnivorous or omnivorous about the species, and not about single animals. Although eg. some cats live on vegan food (+ supplements; they need taurine), I consider cats "natural meat eaters", while humans may either be herbivorous or omnivorous. I guess I use omnivorous just like most vegans use 'omni' (someone who eats all kinds of foods). That way to use the word doesn't imply that the diet is healthy, natural, suitable or in anyway problem-free for humans as a species.

    Although I know that use of animal products has been common throughout known parts of some our ancestors history, 'omni' or 'omnivorous' (when used about current humans) doesn't refer to what hominoid group X ate Y years ago and how that affected their health or life span, or whether they rather would have avoided animal products if they could.

    How do you use the word omnivorous? (

    (Or... is it too optimistic of me to assume that we can have a thread about this without turning into another "are humans as a species natural omnivores" thread? ;-))
    Last edited by Korn; Jul 19th, 2010 at 12:20 AM.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  2. #2
    cobweb
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    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    In the sense of human beings I would clearly use it as a referral to an individual who eats both plants and animal products (by choice).

    In the sense of non-humans I would use the term to refer to animals who eat both plant and animal matter either through choice, instinct or plain availability.

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    Prawnil
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    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    I think the same. I'd only use omnivore in the case of humans to describe an individual diet, in the way that you might see the word used in papers on diet and that kind of thing (as in a category of people included in a trial on different diets or something) - but with no connotations about human physiology.

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    Slightly Crazy 1gentlemaorispirit's Avatar
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    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    Quote cobweb View Post
    In the sense of human beings I would clearly use it as a referral to an individual who eats both plants and animal products (by choice).

    In the sense of non-humans I would use the term to refer to animals who eat both plant and animal matter either through choice, instinct or plain availability.
    I agree, CW!
    I make no apologies for myself, my passions, my love, my honesty, my intensity, my soul. Reach beyond your fears and take all of me or nothing at all.

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    Mahk
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    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    I like cobwebs' definition also but would only add that not only do omnivores eat both but also they are biologically equipped to successfully eat, digest, and gain the nutrients from both animal and plant matter. A true herbivore like a horse or a true obligate carnivore like a cat is incapable of doing so and a diet of exclusively the alien matter will cause the herbivore or carnivore to die. [artificial, synthetic, nutrient manipulated vegan "cat food" doesn't count]

    All scientists in the fields of animal nutrition agree humans as a class of animal would be best described as omnivores, not carnivores or herbivores, but there are of course individual ones that live lifestyles of eating exclusively plant matter, us vegans for example. Can anyone find me a published scientist with a degree in zoology, animal nutrition, primatology, or taxonomy who thinks otherwise? I've certainly never seen any.

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    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    All scientists in the fields of animal nutrition agree humans as a class of animal would be best described as omnivores
    "All scientists in the fields of animal nutrition"... who are they? Any references to names or books?

    Are scientists in the field of animal nutrition" when describing humans "as a class of animal" someone who normally don't deal with human nutrition, and not scientists in the field of human evolution?

    The last thing I read about this was in a book called The Complete World of Human Evolution, by Chris Stringer and Peter Andrews (the current and former Head of Human Origins at the National History Museum in London).

    They aren't scientists in the field of animal nutrition, but I still think what they write is valid. This is a relatively new book (2005), and it does take relatively recent findings into consideration. Like all good people in this field, they humbly admit that there's a lot of stuff we simply don't know about our ancestors. Unlike taxi-drivers they use "probably" and "possibly" a lot. Eg. they do say that we probably were adapted for a diet of fruit originally, and/but their description is interesting: they say that humans are primarily fruit eaters, but frugivores who eat meat, and explain this apparent self-contradiction by humans' lack of being biologically adapted to catch and eat other animals.

    What they don't mention - and this is very typical for Western scientisits - is that even after a relative reduction of the number of vegetarians (non-omnivores) in eg. India, there are hundreds of millions of non-omnivorous humans among us.

    I also agree that omnivore - when used about humans - would be on an individual basis, (and therefore not about humans as a species).
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  7. #7
    Mahk
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    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    Quote cobweb View Post
    In the sense of human beings I would clearly use it as a referral to an individual who eats both plants and animal products (by choice). In the sense of non-humans I would use the term to refer to animals who eat both plant and animal matter...
    And of course eggs and dairy products are full of animal proteins and animal fats, i.e. "animal matter" and are considered part of an omnivore's diet but not an herbivore's diet.

    Korn has disagreed with that however in this thread but he wanted me to bring it up here instead, so I have. So what do people think? Can an herbivore that eats eggs and dairy still be called an "herbivore"!? I certainly don't think so. They are eating animal matter so they are an omnivore.

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    cobweb
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    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    Quote Mahk View Post
    And of course eggs and dairy products are full of animal proteins and animal fats, i.e. "animal matter" and are considered part of an omnivore's diet but not an herbivore's diet.

    Korn has disagreed with that however in this thread but he wanted me to bring it up here instead, so I have. So what do people think? Can an herbivores that eats eggs and dairy still becalled an herbivore!? I certainly don't think so. They are eating animal matter so they are an omnivore.

    Yes i agree, they are omnivores who don't eat meat, but i would say that eggs contain animal matter, certainly.

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    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    I call individual humans "omnivores" if they choose to eat meat etc as well as what I eat.

    I also say that whole species - humans and dogs for example - are omnivorous, when I want to explain that both can do well on a vegetarian diet, in contrast with cats which are "obligate carnivores" and therefore need to eat meat (or more specifically some substances that occur naturally in meat but not other foods, but that can be synthesised in a lab, like taurine).

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    Mahk
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    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    Quote Korn View Post
    "All scientists in the fields of animal nutrition"... who are they? Any references to names or books?

    Are scientists in the field of animal nutrition" when describing humans "as a class of animal" someone who normally don't deal with human nutrition, and not scientists in the field of human evolution?).
    Korn, what specific field of science would you say is most qualified to make the call whether homo sapiens are omnivores, herbivores, or carnivores? Please name it.

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    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    Can an herbivore that eats eggs and dairy still becalled an "herbivore"!? I certainly don't think so.
    I don't think anyone would suggest that they should the called herbivores.

    Korn, what specific field of science would you say is most qualified to make the call whether homo sapiens are omnivores, herbivores, or carnivores?
    I think the term 'omnivore' is both misused, inaccurate, and obviously have several, conflicting interpretations - and also because trying to label someone either omnivore/carnivore/herbivore won't cover the full spectrum of diets... everybody are entitled to have an opinion; I don't think only people who are scientists in the field of animal nutrition are "certified" to have a valid opinion. Most importantly: what does people generally mean by omnivore?

    Omni means "everything" or "all".

    Someone who avoids meat - the most discussed topic in these discussions - definitely doesn't eat "everything". The very core of vegetarianism is avoiding meat, which IMO is another reason not to include vegetarians in the omnivore group: Lacto- or lacto/ovo or lacto-ovo vegetarians simly don't eat everything.

    If a person eats milk/eggs, s/he isn't an herbivore either. Having to think within the omnivore/herbivore structure feels a bit like when people assume that you think that there's a food chain and that humans always are at the top of that chain. Again, the thing that interest me the most right now is how most people use the word omnivore/omni.

    The way I use omnivore about humans pretty much reflects how those 15 Google definitions came out: someone who eats everything, or more specifically, who eats animals/meat in addition to plant matter. Adult non-humans don't drink milk, so in the world of animal nutrition, omni would mean non-milk based animal matter.

    I'd also say that a person who eats meat but not fish (or vice versa) is an omni. He probably avoids fish or meat because he doesn't like it. Omnivore here wouldn't mean "one who eats everything" here, but let's try to keep this as simple as possible, and not end up with ovo-omnis, lacto-ovo omnis, pesco-ovo omnis and so on...

    I call lacto-vegetarians for lacto-vegetarians, and people who eat some kind of meat as well for omnis/omnivores.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  12. #12
    Mahk
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    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    If a person eats milk/eggs, s/he isn't an herbivore either.
    Oh really? You've changed.
    I don't think anyone would suggest that they should the called herbivores.
    You did exactly that in the other thread when you attempted to correct me, claiming that the large population of vegetarians in India and China are herbivores, not omnivores:

    [^read what you linked to in that]

    Humans are omnivores according to all fields of science. There is no disagreement as to "what it means". They are capable of, and generally do eat both plant matter and animal matter, including eggs and dairy. Certain select ones consciously choose to limit their diets to plant matter only but this makes them herbivorous in lifestyle only, not their natural biological design which is capable of eating and assimilating the nutrients from animal matter also, even though they choose not to. If you doubt me name one field of science and I will find you a reference that proves it.

    I think the term 'omnivore' is both misused, inaccurate, and obviously have several, conflicting interpretations - and also because trying to label someone either omnivore/carnivore/herbivore won't cover the full spectrum of diets... everybody are entitled to have an opinion; I don't think only people who are scientists in the field of animal nutrition are "certified" to have a valid opinion.
    Odd, you seemed quite interested just a few posts ago:

    Any references to names or books?
    Seeing as you've digressed into stating that scientific references have no authoritative accuracy or truth above any layperson's mere opinion, I'll leave you to redefine words however you choose to your liking and leave this thread.

  13. #13
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    Quote Mahk View Post
    Oh really? You've changed.
    No, I've not - you are putting words into my mouth again, which you have done many times before, and not only in this discussion.



    You did exactly that in the other thread when you attempted to correct me, claiming that the large population of vegetarians in India and China are herbivores, not omnivores:
    I think this game is getting beyond absurd now. Please tell me (quote) where I wrote that people who use milk/eggs shall be called herbivores. In the link you posted, I don't even use the word herbivore.




    Certain select ones consciously choose to limit their diets to plant matter only but this makes them herbivorous in lifestyle only, not their natural biological design which is capable of eating and assimilating the nutrients from animal matter also, even though they choose not to.
    I've commented that several times already, and instead of responding to my comments, you just repeat what you wrote earlier. There's no two-way communication here....




    If you doubt me name one field of science and I will find you a reference that proves it.
    If you want to continue where you started ("All scientists in the fields of animal nutrition agree humans as a class of animal would be best described as omnivores, not carnivores or herbivores"), just do that... I wonder who these people are.



    Odd, you seemed quite interested just a few posts ago:
    And I still am. Everybody is entitled to have their opinion, but you mentioned that "ALL scientists in the fields of animal nutrition agree humans as a class of animal would be best described as omnivores, not carnivores or herbivores", so I wonder who these are. It's a brave statement, just claiming to know who "all" these scientists are or how many they are would be much more brave and ambitious than I'd imagine anyone would post. You don't need to refer to anyone to have an opinion, but since you claim that all these scientists agree with you, their agreement with you seem to be important.

    If I would claim that "all scientists" within this or that field would claim something, I'd consider a question of who these people are, and where their statements are posted highly relevant.

    Personally, I don't care what omnivore means, I just want to know how people use it. I use it the way most people I've come across use it, which also matches those 15 top definitions I referred to (from Google).

    To my best knowledge, omnivore normally means one who eats everything/includes animals/meat in his diet, and I've posted links that backs this up. If omnivore also commonly is used about what normally are described as 'vegetarians" (read: lacto-vegetarians, lacto-ovo vegetarians)... in other words, about someone who consciously avoids meat, and which therefore definitely doesn't eat "everything", that's fine (somehow), but silly.

    An omni who doesn't eat meat, would then in practice less translate into "someone who eats everything who doesn't eat everything". I'll still use another word than omnivore when I describe a lacto-vegetarian, which IMO is better described as a lacto-vegetarian anyway (and often described just as a "vegetarian").

    Seeing as you've digressed into stating that scientific references have no authoritative accuracy or truth above any layperson's mere opinion
    If scientists use "omni" in a way that doesn't make sense (knowing that omni means "all"/"everything") that's OK, then they simply have then chosen a silly term. I still would like to know if most people here use omni about someone who avoids meat in their diets, which is why I'm asking.




    I'll leave you to redefine words however you choose to your liking and leave this thread.
    I don't redefine the words, I'm asking how people use them, and commenting the relationship between the meaning of omni and the word omnivore, and have posted links to the commonly used defintions of omni found on Google. You misinterpret me again, just like you've more or less done systematically in several other threads, and not only this year.

    If you'd systematically misinterpreted and systematically would have disagreed ("pseudo-disagreed"?) with someone else than me, I'd sent you a PM a long time ago suggesting that you should focus on opinions, and not on persons. Since I started this site, and it's me you continuously misinterpret, I haven't done that - but I'm doing it now. Instead of posting the same stuff over and over again, which I more or less consider spam, please respond to the questions I've asked you, because they are responses to what you have posted. If you rather want to avoid two-way communication, and prefer to repeat yourself instead, please do that, but do it somewhere else. After an almost identical situations 6-7 months ago, it's clear that you are very enthusiastic about finding holes in my argumentation, but you are taking it way too far, because you repeatedly put words into my mouth. Repeated misinterpretations of one other member over a long period of time is not accepted here, even if the person you obviously have a problem with is a moderator or admin.

    If you don't respond to this, and don't respond in that other thread either, I take it that you're not interested in a real discussion/way communication, and deactivate your account. Since you very often think the way non-vegans and new vegans do, your viewpoints are really valuable/interesting here, which is why I spend time on them, so if you choose to leave these threads, I'll repost my questions to you and hope someone else will respond to them, because dealing with common misinterpretations of how vegans think is somehow important when most people out there aren't vegans.

    And: if you don't recall that you did the same thing eg. last fall, please have a look at these threads. I do not have a problem with you or anyone else disagreeing with me, and I truly don't care how most people use the word omnivore, I just want to find out if most people here use it in a different way than those definitions I posted (from Google). It's no big deal, but since you so many times over a long period claim that I have opinions I don't, it seems that these discussions are so colored by the fact that I'm posting them that who I am seem to be much more important than what I post.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  14. #14
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    The 15 definitions of omnivore I posted earlier came from the top Google hit Web definitions for omnivore).

    If I instead click on each of the top links when googling "what is an omnivore", I get this:


    1) a person who eats all kinds of foods
    2) An omnivore is a kind of animal that eats either other animals or plants.
    3) Wild Animals question: What is an omnivore? An animal that eats both meat (other animals) and plants and tend to eat little and often.
    4) Ecosystems question: What animal is an omnivore? well i am not going to tell you all the animals but omnivores are pretty much animals that eat meat and ...
    5) "Omnivore refers to those creatures (including many humans) that consume a varied diet of plant matter and meat, which may include flesh of other animals, fish, and insects or the consumption of animal byproducts. Omni is from the Latin and translates as “all” or “everything” and the root word vore is related to the Latin term vorare, which means to consume or devour. It’s not far off to say that an omnivore eats everything, though plenty of omnivores are fairly picky about their diets." In addition to saying that omnivores eat meat, this person also claims that people who don't eat meat are omnivores. In addition to saying that "many humans" belong to the omnivore category, s/he later writes that humans as a species are omnivores.
    6) Omnivores (from Latin: omne all, everything; vorare to devour) are species that eat both plants and animals as their primary food source
    7) (Link to children's book sold at Amazon)
    8) Pigs, raccoons, and other omnivores are opportunists and will munch on a meal of meat or plants.
    9) (Link to the same children's book)
    10) The word omnivore comes from two Latin words omni and vorare, the former meaning all and the later meaning to devour. As the name so rightly suggests the term refers to species of animals that are adapted to the eating or consumption of both animal and plant matter. They have canines to tear into flesh and moles to grind the grain. Humans for instance eat meats and vegetables and can digest and derive nutrients from both of these.


    Then it continues with mainly listing definitions that include meat eating.
    To include meat in the definition of what omnivores eat seem to be at least as common as the myth about humans needing meat (or the claim that "humans are omnivores")...
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

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    Mahk
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    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    Quote Korn View Post
    I think this game is getting beyond absurd now. Please tell me (quote) where I wrote that people who use milk/eggs shall be called herbivores. In the link you posted, I don't even use the word herbivore.
    When you refuted my claim that "roughly 99% of world humans live as omnivores" (paraphrased) here:
    You then proceed in that link to back your claim by showing how common vegetarians are in India and China. But as I pointed out in that thread vegetarians in China routinely eat eggs and vegetarians in India routinely eat milk products so both are not examples of of herbivores at all, they are omnivores because they eat animal matter and plant matter.

    For how long am I on "administrative screening" before my posts are put up?

  16. #16
    Mahk
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    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    Quote Korn View Post
    And: if you don't recall that you did the same thing eg. last fall, please have a look at these threads. I do not have a problem with you or anyone else disagreeing with me, and I truly don't care how most people use the word omnivore, I just want to find out if most people here use it in a different way than those definitions I posted (from Google).
    Not sure what you mean by "these threads". It sounded like you were about to provide a list or a link or something. Don't bother if it is a hassle.
    ---

    The google definitions only get it partly right. Number 10 comes close but fails because some carnivores don't even have teeth, let alone "canines".

    An omnivore is an animal that is biologically designed do eat and assimilate the nutrients from both plant and animal matter if it wants too, but some due to conditions, environment, or ethics may never eat any animal matter for their entire life. They are still properly classified as omnivores due to their anatomy but they can be said to have lived an herbivorous life.

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    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    Quote Mahk View Post
    When you refuted my claim that "roughly 99% of world humans live as omnivores" (paraphrased) here:
    Yes, my comment is a direct response to your claim about 99% of the world population being omnivores, and that's why I wrote what I did: 99% of the world population aren't "eating everything, including meat/animals" (maybe 90% are?). According to the most common used definition of omnivore, namely one which includes eating meat/animals, your number (99%) is wrong. It's not correct that 99% of the world population are omnivores according to the common use of omnivore, or according to what the word actually means - but I'm not saying that 99% of the world population are herbivores - they're obviously not. They may be "natural herbivores", in the sense that they a vegan diet is the best and most natural choice for them (that would be a totally different discussion), but they definitely aren't 'practising herbivores'.

    I've never stated that a person who is using milk/eggs is an herbivore. The common use of the word vegetarian (unless "total vegetarian" or "strict vegetarian" is being used) is someone who doesn't eat meat, but who may use milk/eggs. Since the number of people who - by this common definition - are so called vegetarians, is higher than circa 1% of the world population, it's incorrect to say that 99% of the world population are omnivores. Omnivore means "eats everything", and normally includes eating meat/animals.

    The normal way to use omnivore is not "someone who doesn't eat meat, but use milk, eggs and plants". But then again according you - in spite of my emphasis of this being an attempt of fining out what the common way to use omnivore is - claim that the most of the definitions found on Google are wrong, and also seem to suggest that the direct translation of omnivore is irrelevant. That's fair, but isn't a reason to spend all this time putting words in my mouth /giving me opinions I don't have.

    You then proceed in that link to back your claim by showing how common vegetarians are in India and China. But as I pointed out in that thread vegetarians in China routinely eat eggs and vegetarians in India routinely eat milk products so both are not examples of of herbivores at all, they are omnivores because they eat animal matter and plant matter.
    Exactly. We both know that most that vegetarians in China and India are not vegans/herbivores, but we know that they don't use meat, and according to the 10-15 Google top hits and according to the actual meaning of omni + vore, omnivores include eating meat/animals or "anything " (which includes meat).


    Consuming some sort of animal matter or another doesn't normally qualify for being called omnivore, which means "someone who eats everything". Examples of animals or organisms who eat some sort of non-herbivorous matter but which aren't omnivores are piscivores and fungivores. Maybe you assume that if I don't define someone a carnivore or omnivores, they have to be considered herbivores - but that's not what I'm saying.

    On the contrary, I suggest that these terms don't cover the whole spectrum of diets, eg. lacto-vegetarians. I'm referring to the most commonly used definitions found via Google and the original meaning of omnivore, and your response to that is "I'll leave you to redefine words however you choose to your liking".

    For how long am I on "administrative screening" before my posts are put up?
    Either until you stop your systematically misinterpreting of me, which you have been doing for a long time, or until I deactivate your account permanently if you continue whatever you're onto.... and definitely until you have done what you said you were going to do:

    Quote Mahk View Post

    I'll answer all your other questions later when I have more time.
    You have posted many definitions of omnivore so far (italics are mine):
    Someone who can digest both plant matter and animal matter.
    One who on purpose has been eating animal matter at least once in his life.
    One who is designed to eat/assimilate nutrients from plant/animal matter if he wants to, even if he has never eaten animal matter.
    An animal that can and does ingest both plant and animal matter on an ongoing regular basis.
    You've also claimed that we've always been eating animal matter from even before day one so it is "natural" and makes us "omnivores".
    Plus - you've agreed with Cobweb, who wrote that omnivore (when used about human beings) is a referral to an individual (she put 'individual' in bold) who eats both plants and animal matter.

    These definitions don't go really well together. Do you understand that this gets confusing?

    I have given up both understanding which of these definitions you really think are right, and - I have to admit that I've also more or less given up seeing any attempt of real two-way communication with you about this topic.

    Please read our FAQ.
    Last edited by Korn; May 5th, 2009 at 09:24 AM.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    Wow. I'll just respond to the first two posts, since I'm not going to read the other long ones.

    I use "omnivore" to describe a SPECIES of animals that is equiped to consume a non-trivial amount of animal and vegetable matter as part of their diet. That doesn't mean that either plant or animal MUST be part of their diet, but that the animal can consume and gather nutrients from plants or animals. This does apply to animals that normally eat other animals but under environmental pressure can consume a non-trivial part of their calories from plants. This applies to animals that normally eat plants but can consume a non-trivial amount of animal matter under environmental pressure.

    I tend not to refer to humans or animals with choice as either omnivore or carnivore or herbivore, since those qualifications have little to do with choice, and more to do with what the general species can consume as a non-trivial part of their diet under environmental pressures.

    In many ways, I find the idea of "herbivore", "omnivore", and "carnivore" to be utterly useless. Those ideas tend to really not work so well when what is more important in the relationship between a species and what it consumes, and how energy and carbon move from the sun to animals and bacteria, is really the food web. That's much more salient.

    Regardless, I tend to use those terms in limited manners when dealing only with species that don't have much choice in the matter of what they eat. I NEVER use it on individuals, as that doesn't make much sense to me. That is also how I tend to hear it used around me. At least, that's how I make sure to clear up misunderstandings of what people mean when they use those terms around me.

    I find that to use the idea of "omnivore" differently is to invite ethical problems, and pseudo-scientific speculation where there really needn't be any. It is to frame the issue in a way that it makes more complications when the issues are really clear and simple.

    That's what I've seen, and judging from the posts above, that's what seems to be happening here.
    context is everything

  19. #19

    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    PS. The fact that most people might be using "omnivore" in a way that confuses discussion or creates more hurdle for arguing a clear vision of veganism doesn't mean that we have to take that definition of omnivore as "the definitive definition". But using what *we* mean by omnivore, by what makes sense for a clearer understanding of the carbon web and human choice in the matter of foods, we make it easier for people to go vegan, and to save animals. By only appeal to the majority of what people mean by "omnivore", we remove ourselves from framing the issue, and we close the door on veganism to many people.

    So I choose, and reiterate the meaning of omnivore that makes most sense, not the one that is most popular. I clarify what I mean when I use the term, and I repeat it with using my definition (I'd say the more accurate and scientific definition as well).
    context is everything

  20. #20
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    Quote xrodolfox View Post
    I tend not to refer to humans or animals with choice as either omnivore or carnivore or herbivore, since those qualifications have little to do with choice, and more to do with what the general species can consume as a non-trivial part of their diet under environmental pressures.
    Good point - I'd say describing an individual non-vegan as a "omnivore" is a slang (mis)use of a scientific term, and it probably has caused some confusion, but I think the linguistic genie is probably out of the bottle on this one unfortunately.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    ^ Yes, the linguistic genie is out (I love the metaphor).

    But that doesn't mean that we have to throw our hands up in the air and call it a win for the other side.

    The fact that people misuse the term "omnivore" to refer to people the choose to consume animals (who are the majority of people), sets the framework, and the landscape, to make veganism look like the "unnatural" choice. It self-defeats us. Just like when Nixon said, "I am not a crook" and immediately the thought came, "wow, that guys a crook".

    So sure, the genie is out. But I say, lets make a definition that works for us, and is reasonable, and makes sense, and use that. I sometimes make mistakes and call people that animals omnivores. But that doesn't mean that I should keep on doing it.

    We need to make it clear that eating animals is a choice, not a "nature". We need to make sure we make it clear that being vegan means thriving. We need to make it clear that traditions need examining no matter how old and entrenched, and we need to make it clear that because the majority does something, it doesn't make it right.

    That starts by using the right ideas, and then, the right metaphors, and thus the right words. By using "omnivore" to mean an individual who chooses to eat animals, we end up fighting ourselves.

    Only repetition of what we mean can make our djin win.
    context is everything

  22. #22
    Mahk
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    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    Quote Korn View Post
    "All scientists in the fields of animal nutrition"... who are they? Any references to names or books?
    "The results indicate that host diet and phylogeny both influence bacterial diversity, which increases from carnivory to omnivory to herbivory; that bacterial communities codiversified with their hosts; and that the gut microbiota of humans living a modern life-style is typical of omnivorous primates."

    Evolution of Mammals and Their Gut Microbes - Science Magazine

    Ruth E. Ley,1 Micah Hamady,2 Catherine Lozupone,1,3 Peter J. Turnbaugh,1 Rob Roy Ramey,4 J. Stephen Bircher,5 Michael L. Schlegel,6 Tammy A. Tucker,6 Mark D. Schrenzel,6 Rob Knight,3 Jeffrey I. Gordon1*


    "Our gut bugs are typical of other omnivorous primates" is how I read that. We are just one of many omnivorous primates, for example the chimpanzee.

    Are scientists in the field of animal nutrition" when describing humans "as a class of animal" someone who normally don't deal with human nutrition, and not scientists in the field of human evolution?
    I'm not sure I understand your question but anthropologists seem to think that meat eating was found not only in early man but even pre-man. There's also no need to hunt to be an animal matter eater either. Scavenging the meat from a dead animal carcass, stealing eggs from a nest, or eating insects, worms, and grubs would be some examples and all of which would make one an omnivore, not an herbivore. Omnivores and carnivores don't have to eat meat to fall into those categories. Blood sucking bats and mosquitoes don't eat meat yet they are carnivores because they eat animal matter. There are also snakes, all of which are carnivores, which eat only a diet of eggs. Carnivores or omnivores which steal and eat bird eggs (example: those Chinese vegetarians who eat chicken eggs) are called oophagous, they practice oophagy, a sub category of carnivores (or omnivore if they also eat plant matter), not herbivores.

    Here's a great list of some of the sub categories of carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores, also called polyphagists.

    To the best of my knowledge I've now answered all your questions in this thread.

  23. #23
    V for Veganica Sarabi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    I think of an omnivore as one who eats both meat and plants. I've heard of deer eating eggs, so I don't want to say that eggs make one omnivorous, though arguably that would make deer omnivorous. So you have the carnivore, the omnivore, the lacto-ovo vegetarian, and the herbivore. My problem with "omnivore" is that it doesn't necessarily mean the opposite of vegan, just that for humans it's the opposite of herbivore.
    "To become vegetarian is to step into the stream which leads to nirvana." - Buddha

  24. #24

    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    I would say that omnivore applies to a species, thus, I think of humans as omnivores.

    Since I as an individual have a choice, I'm a vegan. But if I ate an egg because someone put a gun to the head of someone on this board and said, "i'll kill this vegan unless you eat that egg", I'd surely eat the egg and still consider myself a vegan. I think that veganism only applies when there is choice, which is the vast vast majority of life, excepting some few ridiculous and unplausible scenarios (like guns to the head, or deserted islands, etc.). I'm always going to be a part of an omnivorous species, but I can always choose to be vegan.
    context is everything

  25. #25

    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    I would say that omnivore applies to a species, thus, I think of humans as omnivores.

    Since I as an individual have a choice, I'm a vegan. But if I ate an egg because someone put a gun to the head of someone on this board and said, "i'll kill this vegan unless you eat that egg", I'd surely eat the egg and still consider myself a vegan. I think that veganism only applies when there is choice, which is the vast vast majority of life, excepting some few ridiculous and unplausible scenarios (like guns to the head, or deserted islands, etc.). I'm always going to be a part of an omnivorous species, but I can always choose to be vegan.
    context is everything

  26. #26
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Definition of "omnivore" - how do you use that word?

    Quote xrodolfox View Post

    I tend not to refer to humans or animals with choice as either omnivore or carnivore or herbivore, since those qualifications have little to do with choice, and more to do with what the general species can consume as a non-trivial part of their diet under environmental pressures.

    In many ways, I find the idea of "herbivore", "omnivore", and "carnivore" to be utterly useless.
    I totally agree. These three terms don't even cover a lot of other 'vores' (pescivores, bacterivores...), and are far from complete terms needed to define humans/animals/organisms.

    Since there are no lacto-vegetarian or lacto-vegetarian (non-human) animals, there are no established 'vore-'word that's parallel to eg. lacto-vegetarian.

    Humans (but not all humans) are the only animals who drink milk as adults, and also the only animal that drinks milk from other species. If an herbivorous group of non-human animals would have done that, they'd probably be called lacto-herbivores. - but non-human animals are too smart to keep drinking milk for their entire lives.

    This is a reason I don't think it makes much sense to call lacto-vegetarian humans for 'omnivores who don't eat meat'. Lacto-herbivore, or simply lacto-vegetarian makes more sense. For me an "everything-eater" which doesn't eat everything" sounds a little bit like a claim about consuming red meat, but not blood, or eg. claiming to have climbed to the top of the highest mountain in the world, but only been halfway to the top.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

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