Google's Salad Emoji Gets a Vegan-Friendly Update
To put it one way, an emoji is a small image intended to represent what would otherwise be a long string of words. But as a whole, this globally-accepted set of 2,666 Unicode characters also represents who we are as a people. It’s part of the reason we discuss things like which foods get emojis and which don’t: It reflects where different foods rank in importance on the, uh, food chain. Similarly, the actual look of emojis can also be a matter of big debate—with questions about skin tone and gender on human emojis being especially prominent.
As it turns out, even the humble salad isn’t beyond trying to be more inclusive. In a recent update for Android, primarily intended to add a batch of 157 new emojis, Google also went back and tweaked the look of some of its existing emojis. One prominent change was that the salad emoji—which previously went the chef’s route by tossing an egg in with its leafy greens and tomato—is now protein-free.
Jennifer Daniel, head of design for Google emoji, explained on Twitter that the change wasn’t intended as a swipe at chef’s salad fans, but instead was meant to make the salad more vegan-friendly. “There's big talk about inclusion and diversity at Google so if you need any evidence of Google is making this priority may I direct your attention to the [salad] emoji,” she wrote, “we've removed the egg in Android P beta 2, making this a more inclusive vegan salad.”
She later clarified (perhaps after the always inevitable Twitter backlash contingent chimed in) that, additionally, the change created “an image more faithful to Unicode's description,” which she said is “A bowl of healthy salad, containing lettuce, tomato, and other salad items such as cucumber.”
Regardless of the reason, it’s hard to believe this was truly on the top of any emoji users’ worry list (not like the cheese placement on the burger emoji, which Google also corrected after some backlash). So in some ways, making—and especially pointing out—the change was likely to spark more debate than it would curb.