How To Stop Using Animal Names In Vein: 8 Cruelty-Free Idioms To Know

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PETA has previously been mocked for advocating for the replacement of certain idioms that are “anti-animal”. While many might see this as a bit of a non-issue, there’s perhaps a point to be made about the way some of the most commonly used idioms in the English language have normalised animal abuse. No matter where you lie on the vegan scale, here are some animal-free suggestions to keep in mind. 

On a wild goose chase → Out chasing rainbows 

Do you ever feel like you’re pursuing something that’s pretty impossible? Perhaps try to swap the “wild goose chase” bit out for the animal-free version of “rainbows” because who doesn’t love rainbows?

Example: After several hours looking for her lost bobby pin at the beach, Maisy realised she was out chasing rainbows. 

Source: Unsplash

Killing two birds with one stone → Feed two birds with one scone 

When you honestly think about it, the idea of actually killing two birds with one stone is pretty grim. Wouldn’t we all prefer using the cruelty-free alternative of “feeding two birds with one scone”? After all, isn’t it meant to be a good thing to solve two problems at once? 

Example: Since I was already out to drop off some mail, I decided to go pick up some groceries as well, feeding two birds with one scone. 

Walking on eggshells → Walking on broken glass

This phrase is often used to refer to a situation where you have to deal with someone who is easily offended or angered. Try using “broken glass” to describe it next time you find yourself having to try so hard not to upset somebody. 

Example: “Talking to my sister is like walking on broken glass!” Bob exclaimed. 

Source: Pexels

Opening a can of worms → Opening a Pandora’s box

This is probably the easiest swap of all because the animal-free version is already a well-known phrase! Plus, opening a Pandora’s box just sounds cooler anyway.

Example: The arrival of cryptocurrency has opened a Pandora’s box. 

Bring home the bacon → Bring home the bagels 

Don’t know about you, but bagels are simply universally loved, whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian or meat eater. So why not use the term bring home the bagels to describe an achievement or success? 

Example: The idea that only men are supposed to bring home the bagels is outdated and sexist.

Source: Unsplash

Let the cat out of the bag → Spill the beans! 

Again, this one’s already widely in use, so we have no clue why we need to let any cat out of any bag because that’s pretty awful. Spill the beans it is. 

Example: “Come on, tell me about that date you went on last night. Spill the beans!” pried Sophie. 

Packed like sardines → Packed like pickles 

No one wants to have to be crowded so tightly in a small space, but if you had to describe that kind of situation, then try to refer to it as being packed like pickles! 

Example: We were packed like pickles in this tiny elevator!

Source: Unsplash

Take the bull by the horns → Take the flower by the thorns

When you want to take a situation head on, there’s no need to take any bull by the horns! We love the animal-friendly alternative to “take the flower by the thorns”, which still has the same ring. 

Example: Andy decided to take the flower by the thorns and confront his flatmates about who had been secretly eating his food. 


Lead image courtesy of Anthony Taylor / iStock via Getty Images.


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