Have you ever met a vegan and then put your foot in your mouth? I’m here to help! Here are 10 things to refrain from saying to a vegan.
10. “If you were stranded on a desert island, and there was nothing to eat but animals, would you eat meat?” Despite the fact that this has nothing to do with most of our current lives, we hear this one ALL. THE. TIME. It’s really not as clever as you think! 😉 First, we’d probably eat some coconuts…but yes, if it came down to our survival or the survival of an animal, I’m sure all of us would choose ourselves. What’s your point? If I was in a dire survival situation I might also drink my own urine a la Bear Grylls, so should I start doing that, too? (Okay, maybe I wouldn’t, I don’t know…but you see what I’m getting at?)
9. “But where do you get your protein?” Legumes, whole grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds…pretty much every food in the plant kingdom contains protein. If you are getting enough calories, you are more than likely getting plenty of protein. Most meat-eaters get twice the RDA for protein!
8. “I just ate <insert name of animal body part here> for lunch, it was soooo yummy!” and then on and on and on, describing it in great detail. Um…vegan here! Not really interested in hearing how the meat was just “falling off the bone” and now I’m starting to get nauseous.
7. “Plants have feelings too! Don’t you care about the poor carrots?” Really? Really?! If you truly can’t see the difference between pulling a carrot out of the ground and slitting a chicken’s throat, why don’t you try doing both and see if you feel the same about both acts?
6. “If humans weren’t meant to eat meat, why are animals so tasty?” If you cooked me up on the grill, my flesh would probably be tasty too, especially with BBQ sauce…but I’m pretty sure that’s not the reason that I am on this earth!
5. “So what made you decide to become a vegan?”…asked in the middle of a big family dinner while eating a hunk of ham. Sorry, I really would love to answer this question, but not in that context! There is no way the vegan can come out of that one without offending someone or creating an awkward silence. Go ahead and ask the question, just wait until after dinner.
4. “Oh, I could never go vegan. I love meat way too much! And I could never live without cheese!” Don’t assume that just because someone is vegan, they never liked the taste of meat or cheese. Most vegans that I know had a hard time giving up cheese, at least initially. Why do you think vegans are going nuts over Daiya? Going vegan was an ethical decision that I made because I didn’t want to contribute to animal cruelty. It wasn’t easy to say goodbye to cheese and I think that is probably a big part of why I’ve gone back and forth so many times between vegetarian and vegan. I guess this question bugs me because it assumes that veganism is simply a taste preference, and that if you like meat or cheese enough, then you are exempt from considering the issues. But none of this matters to the animal. The mother cow whose calf is being taken away is not going to think, “oh, it’s okay though, because this is for someone who really, really loves cheese.”
3. “I feel sorry for you, that you can’t eat <insert animal food here>.” For one thing, let’s talk about that word “can’t.” Unless a vegan also happens to have an allergy to meat, dairy, or eggs, the more applicable word is “won’t.” I can eat whatever I want. I choose not to eat animals. I find it is much more empowering to view it in this way. So please don’t feel sorry for me! I am happy with my choice and I enjoy the wide variety of plant foods that I eat every single day. Even though we may have once loved steak, the longer we are vegan the more we start viewing it as an animal’s dead body, and some of us are actually turned off by the sight and smell of meat.
2. “You sure don’t look like a vegan!” What’s this supposed to mean? Are we too fat? Are we too thin? Do we not have enough tattoos or dreadlocks? Vegans come in all shapes and sizes. Wouldn’t it be boring if we all looked the same?
1. Why don’t you care about people? Aren’t people more important than animals? This one always boggles my mind. Going vegan is not activism in itself, it is simply a way to live in accordance with our values. More obviously, I want to point out that people can care about more than one cause at the same time! You could work at the animal shelter and volunteer at the homeless shelter. You could donate money to Farm Sanctuary and to the Red Cross. And many vegans combine these passions, through organizations like Food Not Bombs or by hosting a Vegan Bake Sale to support relief efforts in Japan or Haiti.
So there you have it. Fellow vegans, tell me, what am I missing? Meat-eaters, if you’ve said any of the above things to me, don’t worry, I still love you! 😉