Compassionate Clichés: Changing the Conversation

You’ve heard them. You’ve learned them. You’ve even said them. Some call them clichés. Sayings. Expressions. Idioms. All of them are meant to paint a picture that exaggerates a point. A way of further illustrating an idea.

Sadly, many of these expressions imply doing harm to animals. Regardless of how these offensive expressions became the “norm”, we challenged how they could be evolved with more compassionate alternatives. To be kind and express ourselves with words that are respectful of both people and animals. 
 
We’ve compiled a list of 100 compassionate alternatives to those age-old, offensive, speciesist versions. Join the conversation and share any that you’ve come up with! 

Speciesist Idiom / Proverb Compassionate Replacement
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush A berry in the hand is worth two in the bush​
A wolf in sheep’s clothing Dahmer in a nice suit
Ants in your pants Pepper in your pants
Beating dead horse Feeding a full horse
Beating dead horse It's like trying to revive a cold case
Beating dead horse Trying to push water uphill
Bringing home the bacon Bringing home the Benjamins
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch Don't count your beans before they sprout
Don’t let the cat out of the bag Keep it under your hat
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth Don’t look for bugs in a flower bouquet
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket Don't put all your vegetables in one soup
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket Never put all your berries in one bowl
Don’t put the cart before the horse Don’t slice the bread before it’s baked
Get to the meat of the issue Get to the core of the issue
Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for life. Give a man a bean and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to garden and you’ll feed him for life.
He who steals a calf steals a cow He who crushes an acorn kills an oak
It’s raining cats and dogs It’s raining rice and beans
Kill not the goose that lays the golden eggs Don’t fell the tree that yields the sweetest fruit
Kill two birds with one stone Achieve 2 tasks at 1 go
Kill two birds with one stone Bake two cakes in one pan
Kill two birds with one stone Bake two desserts in one oven
Kill two birds with one stone Brighten two hearts with one smile
Kill two birds with one stone Chop two onions with one knife
Kill two birds with one stone Create a forest with one seed/tree
Kill two birds with one stone Cross two hurdles with one leap
Kill two birds with one stone Dig two holes with one shovel
Kill two birds with one stone Eat 2 grapes with one mouth
Kill two birds with one stone Eat two jelly beans with one mouth
Kill two birds with one stone Feed two birds with one scone!
Kill two birds with one stone Feed two cats with one bowl
Kill two birds with one stone Fill two needs with one deed
Kill two birds with one stone Free two birds with one key
Kill two birds with one stone Get two giggles from one tickle
Kill two birds with one stone Get two outs with one pitch
Kill two birds with one stone Grab two scoops with one pass
Kill two birds with one stone Grow two plants with one seed
Kill two birds with one stone Heal two wounds with one kiss
Kill two birds with one stone Hop two stones with one foot
Kill two birds with one stone Ice two cakes with one spoon
Kill two birds with one stone Leap two mountains with one jump
Kill two birds with one stone Lift two spirits with one kind word
Kill two birds with one stone Light two candles with one flame
Kill two birds with one stone Love ten people with one heart
Kill two birds with one stone Love two animals with one heart!
Kill two birds with one stone Make two people laugh with one joke
Kill two birds with one stone Make two wishes upon one star
Kill two birds with one stone Mash two potatoes with one fork
Kill two birds with one stone Pay two bills with one check
Kill two birds with one stone Plant two trees/flowers with one seed
Kill two birds with one stone Send two e-mails with one click!
Kill two birds with one stone Slice two carrots with one knife
Kill two birds with one stone Smell two flowers with one nose
Kill two birds with one stone Solve two problems with one solution
Kill two birds with one stone Surf two waves with one board
Kill two birds with one stone Take two steps with one foot
Kill two birds with one stone Talk to two people with one phone
Kill two birds with one stone Throw two strikes with one pitch
Kill two birds with one stone Tie two loose ends at once
Kill two birds with one stone Unite two people with one hope
Kill two birds with one stone Water two plants with one hose
Kill two birds with one stone Welcome two friends with one open door
Land of milk and honey Land of Silk and agave
Land of milk and honey Land of sweet abundance
Neither fish nor foul Neither greens nor grains
Never fish in troubled waters Never fly a kite in a storm
No use crying over spilled milk It’s no use weeping over burned toast
No use crying over spilled milk It's no use washing a clean shirt
No use crying over spilled milk It's no use watering a dead flower
On a wild goose chase Out chasing rainbows
Opening a can of worms Opening a can of spaghetti
Packed like sardines Packed like cloves in a garlic clove
Packed like sardines Packed like pickles
Quit cold turkey Quit cold tofurky
Running around like a chicken with its head cut off Rolling around like a pig in mud
Running around like a chicken with its head cut off Running around in circles
Running around like a chicken with its head cut off Running around like a carrot with its top cut off
Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander Sauce for the peach is sauce for the plum
Slippery as an eel Slippery as oil
There’s more than one fish in the sea There’s more than one leaf on the tree
There’s more than one way to skin a cat There are many ways to climb a tree
There’s more than one way to skin a cat There’s more than one way to peel a potato
There’s more than one way to skin a cat There’s more than one way to skin a kiwi
There’s more than one way to skin a cat There's more than one way to bake a cake
There’s more than one way to skin a cat There's more than one way to catch a crook
There’s more than one way to skin a cat There's more than one way to cook tofu
There’s more than one way to skin a cat There's more than one way to dive into a pool
There’s more than one way to skin a cat

There's more than one way to knit a sweater

There’s more than one way to skin a cat There's more than one way to make a bed
There’s more than one way to skin a cat There's more than one way to peel an orange
There’s more than one way to skin a cat There's more than one way to pet a cat
There’s more than one way to skin a cat There's more than one way to shine a penny
Walking on eggshells Walking on broken glass
Winner, winner, chicken dinner Winner, winner, tofu dinner
You are no spring chicken You are no spring onion
You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar You can catch more smiles with nice then nasty
You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink You can sow fertile seeds but you can’t make them sprout
You can’t get blood from a turnip You can’t get water from a stone
You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs You can’t make wine without crushing grapes
You can’t sell the cow and have the milk too You can’t sell the orchard and keep the apples too
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks You can't teach an old salad new tricks Let’s change the conversation, spread compassion, and demonstrate how easy it is to be kind (or offensive) with a simple change in our vocabulary.

Let’s change the conversation, spread compassion, and prove to the world how easy it is to speak kindly.  


Stephanie Boyd
Stephanie Boyd

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