Overheard conversation fragment: Shrimp is not vegetables

I walked past a woman in the grocery store who was talking on her mobile phone. I only caught one sentence. She said, in an annoyed voice, "Shrimp is not vegetables."

(Then again, purple is a fruit, so anything's possible.)

Update: manicmarc correctly deduced that the tone and body language of the person on the phone indicated that her previous sentence in the conversation was something like "What vegetables do you want to have with dinner?"

Comments (33)
  1. John says:

    If it weren’t for my horse, I never would have spent that year in college.

  2. Andrew says:

    In a discussion about paper waste at work: "Trees are crying."

  3. Actually, in Israel (and thus in Hebrew) we call the collection of seafood that is not fish "sea fruit." I have no idea where this comes from, and the Hebrew Wikipedia page ( http://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%9E%D7%90%D7%9B%D7%9C%D7%99_%D7%99%D7%9D ) doesn’t explain the origin of the name, but just as a few examples sea fruit include: shrimp, calamari, oysters, eel, octopus, lobster and many others.

    (As a side note, all sea fruit are not kosher by the Jewish tradition.)

  4. Kzinti says:

    In French, we call seafood "fruits de mer". But my understanding is that this isn’t fruit as in apples and oranges. It is fruit as in "fruit of labor". So when we say "fruits de mer", we really mean the sea’s labor / production.

  5. Marcel says:

    In Germany it’s also "sea fruit" (Meeresfrüchte) which, according to Wikipedia, encompasses all edible animals in the sea except vertebrates (fish etc.). There’s a paragraph about the origin of the word, but it doesn’t really explain much except that it may stem from an "agrarian" usage approach of the see.

  6. Matt says:


    I’ve heard that when Eliezer Ben-Yehuda began the process of modernizing Hebrew, he filled in some gaps from other languages such as French.  Another example:  the French word for "potato" is "pomme de terre", which literally means "apple of the earth".  The Hebrew version, "tapuach adama", is the same thing.

  7. porter says:

    I heard a story that Jews counted chicken as a fish in order to have something to eat on Friday. Presumably if the word of god is immutable, then you just change the meaning of the words.

  8. xix says:

    I’m guessing she was looking for something marked "vegetarian" and spotted on the label that it contained shrimp.

    As a semi-vegetarian myself, this is always a problem.  I order the vegetarian stir-fry (for example), and find it’s noodles with fish, shrimp, and an egg cracked over the top or something.  These are all things I wouldn’t expect in a sane world, but things such as they are, I now do.

  9. xx says:

    A: No, I’m a vegetarian

    B: How about shrimp?

    A: Shrimp is not vegetables

    I common trick by fake vegetarians is to eat sea food. I real vegetarian would be offended if this was suggested about them.

  10. porter says:

    > As a semi-vegetarian myself, this is always a problem.

    What does that mean? We are omnivores, hence semi-carnivorous and semi-vegitarian.

  11. Nawak says:

    Maybe it’s just in french but we have ‘végétalien’ and ‘végétarien’ to disembiguate between the "real" and "fake" vegetarian practices.

    ‘Végétalien’ defines someone who only eats vegetables and nothing coming from animals.

    In the common usage, ‘végétarien’ (Vegetarian) includes one or both of the "ovo/lacto" variations but not the "chicken/fish" ones which are considered fake vegetarian (they’re, like, fake twice! :) )

    That being said, we do not have an equivalent of "vegan", certainly because this practice isn’t spread enough here.

  12. Kyralessa says:

    Perhaps she (or the person on the other end) is Eastern Orthodox.  During Great Lent, which is going on now, we Orthodox don’t eat meat, fish, dairy, wine, or olive oil.  But we can eat sea creatures that aren’t fish: crab, squid, octopus, clams, oysters, lobster, …and shrimp.

    So at a guess, the person talking is vegetarian, and the person on the other end (inviting her to dinner) is Orthodox, and they’re trying to agree on a menu.

  13. manicmarc says:

    Thanks to this site, that phrase now has 9 hits on Google. This page, and others that mirror it.

    The husband has obviously phoned up and said "where are you??" she’s said "shopping, we need some vegetables", to which he said "No we don’t, I’m cooking shrimp"

  14. Jim says:

    Many times people get confused with the notion of Vegetarian. Somebody is thinking about the seafoord or red meat/white meat or if egg is eatable? Anyways, there need to be more specific about Vegetarian I guess.

  15. hexatron says:

    "[Porter] heard a story that Jews counted chicken as a fish in order to have something to eat on Friday."

    This is a scrambled yiddish joke:

    Jew converts to Catholicism insincerely. Priest walks past his house on a Friday and smells chicken cooking.  He points out that Catholics are allowed only fish on Fridays, not meat.

    Ex-Jew replies, "You sprinkled me with water and made a Catholic from a Jew. So I sprinkled too and made a herring from a chicken."

    Maybe you had to be there…

  16. @Matt

    Thanks for that. I didn’t know about the French connection of these words.


    AFAIK, there’s no need to change the meaning of the word chicken in order to eat it on a Friday because chicken is always allowed (nothing special about it being Friday.) I doubt what you heard is true, but I’m no expert.

  17. configurator says:

    Amit: As you probably know, the Hebrew word for fruit is overloaded. It also means ‘something that comes from’. e.g.

    פרי עמלו = "fruit of his labour"

    פרי המקרה = "fruit of chance"

    פרי האדמה = "fruit of the earth" – including non-fruits such as vegetables and mushrooms.

    In this case, פירות ים means "fruit of the sea" as in something that comes from the sea.

    This is the same in French, I believe.

  18. dave says:

    >A common trick by fake vegetarians is

    >to eat sea food. I real vegetarian

    >would be offended if this was suggested

    >about them.

    Ah, c’mon. "Fake" sounds a bit harsh. It’s just that there’s no common word for people who eat "fish" but not "meat". I passed through the vegetarian-except-for-fish phase on my way to being a real vegetarian (I didn’t plan to pass through, I planned to stop there) and believe me you just get blank looks if you say you’re a pesco-ovo-lacto-vegetarian.

    So though I no longer eat fish, I’m not "offended" is someone thinks I might do.

    I am, however, astounded by people who’ll offer *chicken* to someone who’s just said that he is a vegetarian.

    Back on topic: yes, I concur with the general opinion that "shrimp is not vegetables" is part of the vegetarian food-choices conversation. I’ve participated in variations on that conversation many times.

  19. Brian says:

    Blantantly stolen from wikipedia:

    * Semi-vegetarianism — A diet that excludes certain meats, particularly red meat, but allows the consumption of others.

    o Pescetarianism — A diet that excludes all meat except fish, shellfish, and crustacea.

    o Pollotarianism — A diet that excludes all meat except poultry and fowl.

    * Flexitarianism — A diet that consists primarily of vegetarian food, but that allows occasional exceptions.

  20. Abhishek says:

    @Amit: Wow, Hebrew too? In Bengal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bengal) as well, fish is a major part of the diet and is similarly considered to be "fruit of the sea"! What are the odds, eh? More evidence to support the fact that ancient cultures had extensive trade/cultural links, or possibly, just possibly, how cultures independently came up with startlingly similar cultural motifs to explain the strange/awe-inspiring/all-powerful natural world around them.

  21. DysgraphicProgrammer says:

    I have a cousin who claims to be vegetarian except for bacon double cheeseburgers. The kind of insane logic that can reconcile the vegetarianism with bacon double cheeseburgers is beyond me.

  22. DWalker says:

    @Amit:  I thought Catholics didn’t eat (non-fish) meat on Fridays.  Hence the school cafeterias always served fish on Friday.  Never chicken.

  23. dave says:

    In latin america, chicken (pollo) usually isn’t considered "carne", which is commonly translated as "meat" nontheless.

    The English are notorious for bungling the Spanish language.  Some pubs and casual eateries, commendably trying to satisfy their vegetarian customers with a bean-based variation on ‘chili con carne’, describe it as ‘vegetarian con carne’.

  24. GregM says:

    DWalker, porter said "Jews", not "Catholics".

  25. Erasmus says:

    @Andrew: of course they’re crying, they’re weeping willows.

  26. peterchen says:

    >> "I am, however, astounded by people who’ll offer *chicken* to someone who’s just said that he is a vegetarian."

    In latin america, chicken (pollo) usually isn’t considered "carne", which is commonly translated as "meat" nontheless.

  27. Shrimp may not be a vegetable, but I hear on good authority that Bacon is:


  28. Igor Levicki says:

    I have a new word:

    Darwinarianism = eating only food with 0% fat and 0% animal protein which is also missing essential amino-acids and which will hopefully remove those on such diet from human genetic pool.

  29. Will Hughes says:

    I’ve witnessed this a number of times at any number of asian restaurants in Sydney.  

    Vegetarian: "Do you have any vegetable dishes? I don’t eat meat."

    Waiter: "Yes, we have stir fried vegetables"*

    V: "Excellent, I’ll have that."

    Some time later, the dish arrives with pork floss/chicken/etc in it.

    V: "Excuse me, but this has meat in it."

    W: "But it’s only a little bit."

    * Example only.

    I’ve seen it happen with "long beans with sesame seed oil", "steamed bok choi", "vegetable fried rice", etc. Things you wouldn’t expect to have meat in them, especially after enquiring specifically.

  30. DWalker says:

    @GregM: I was talking about hexatron’s post, not porter’s (although I referred to Amit mistakenly).  Hexatron’s post mentions converting to Catholicism.

  31. porter says:

    > I have a new word: Darwinarianism = eating only food ….

    Or "Consumerism", where the person eating has absolutely no idea about where food comes from.

  32. GregM says:

    DWalker, yes, that was the point of Hexatron’s post.  "You converted me from Jew to Catholic with water, and then I converted the meat from chicken to fish with water" with an implied "…because we can’t eat chicken on Friday."

  33. Igor Levicki says:

    >Or "Consumerism", where the person eating has absolutely no idea about where food comes from.<<

    That is SO true as well, but it can apply to more than a food — for example when the person buying goods has absolutely no idea why they are buying them.

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