Top 10 Things Never to Say to a Vegan

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!  😉

119 Responses to “Top 10 Things Never to Say to a Vegan”

  1. epicureanvegan

    Nicely said! Yes, my biggest pet peeve when it comes to my veganism is when people ask me, “Where do you get your protein?” (I usually, say, “From eating people who ask me that.”) But I have to understand that many people ask these questions because they are un(or mis)informed and I try to kindly correct them. I sure get tired of the those stereotypical comments like, “I hope you take extra B vitamins,” or “Vegan food is full of chemicals and processed ingredients,” which couldn’t be further from the truth. Thanks for the list!

    Reply
    • Rebekah

      That is true, and I bet even some of the people who seem like they are just trying to make fun of us might have some genuine underlying curiosity. I agree about the processed foods comment, and find that one particularly ironic since most meat-eaters don’t seem to have a problem with consuming processed foods like french fries or ice cream! It’s only when the processed food is a substitute for an animal food that they take issue with it. Aaarrrghh!

      Reply
    • Melissa

      Epi,

      Thank you! Do you feel you spend so much effort educating carnivores that they may as well go vegan? I normally silence them with “most Americans get way too much protein, and veg/vegans easily get enough in their diet”. Doink!

      I do think there’s a faction of resistors who have a set of justifications that will not be shaken…

      Melissa

      Reply
    • Jolene

      Also, I must note, that this answer should have been like an eye-opener to a dairy consumer who “never knew”. I say this because I once did research for an English essay about the negative effects of dairy, and I remember reading that people often perceive dairy as a great source of protein. But in actuality, the protein they’re getting from it is coming from much of the vegetation that the animals eat, then being processed throughout the animal’s body as nutrients, which are secreted through its fluids. I forgot the exact percentage that comes from the plants, but I think it’s also, in fact, the “right amount” needed for our body’s intake as opposed to what is the other protein percentage given from the animal’s cholesterol. ooh, ooh! and depending on the type of animal, the protein portion is meant for the body of that animal’s baby (which is usually much bigger than our human babies) to help it grow into its adult size and structure, therefore doubling protein or doubling cholesterol in our human systems, and harboring problems like osteoporosis and what not. Boy, does this take me through memory lane! The information goes something like that, and when I saw this answer you gave, it reminded me of all this research I once did, paricularly about the plants having protien. I could dub it my favorite answer, or one of my favorites from this list at least. I like this page, I think you’re genius for it.

      I think I’m gonna look this stuff up again just to recall certain facts. This was kind of thrilling remembering all that good information. :))

      Reply
  2. MLE

    Here’s a couple more:
    1.Well-meaning person:But, you’re going to eat meat when you start trying to have kids, right?
    Me: *sigh*
    2. From my sister: Then why did God give us dominion over the animals?
    3. From a quasi-Mormon relative: The Word of Wisdom (found in Doctrine & Covenants–a Mormon book of scripture) tells us we should eat meat.

    This list is great, by the way. Number five is so awkward, and it happens all too often. My husband and I are relatively new vegetarians and we’re considering phasing out all animal products–not just what eat, but what we wear, decorate with, etc. We don’t know many other veggos, so it’s nice to read about other peoples experiences.
    Oh, and of course, the perennial favorite to ask a vegetarian, “but you do eat fish, right?” (You know, because fish don’t have muscles…)

    Reply
    • Rebekah

      Congratulations on going vegetarian and good luck with continuing to eliminate animal products from your life! I actually don’t know any vegans in real life, so I appreciate the support on the web also.

      Reply
    • Alyssa

      I usually reply to the whole why did god give us control over animals then argument with something like “I believe that we are meant to protect those who are weaker than us and act more as the bigger, stronger, wiser bug brother/sister of other beings rather than bullying and exploiting them”. They may not get it, but they usually have a hard time responding to it.

      Reply
    • CW

      Well I’m a mormon and the Word of Wisdom does not tell you to eat meat! It actually says to eat meat sparingly. It is more of a guide line if you do eat meat, like an advocation to not eat so much meat. But, having said that, I have had a few people pull the WOW line on me, but they are not correct!

      Reply
    • Jolene

      fish don’t have muscles? really? I thought it was just that fish don’t have as much fat or are not considered as part of the true animal kingdom.

      Reply
      • Tigerboy

        There are three kingdoms: Animals, Plants, and Fungi. Which kingdom do fish belong to? Animal! Fish are animals. End of story. It has nothing to do with what kind of muscles they have. It has nothing to do with the type (or lack) of fat they have. Question: Are fish plants? Answer: No. Fish are animals. Question: Are fish mushrooms? Answer: No. Fish are animals. That’s it. Fish are animals.

        Reply
  3. Pamela

    My favorite is when I say I don’t eat meat and they offer to make me a chicken breast. Ah, if you didn’t pick it I don’t eat it. Did someone kill the chicken? Then it’s meat. I try to be nice and gently teach, but sometimes I feel myself going over the edge!

    Reply
  4. Judy Dearborn Nill

    Bravo! Bekah, you have stated some really important, awareness-raising things through humor. Real zingers, yet not hurtful. Glad you still love us, and hope I wasn’t one of the guilty parties at a fam dinner! I do remember a non-family guest once grilling you — oops– what I mean is, asking you a couple of the above questions. I thought his comments were ignorant at the time; he’s an otherwise nice man. Anyway, well done. I learned something, too. And I admire your stance.

    Reply
    • Rebekah

      LOL, I wasn’t thinking of you when I wrote that! But even so, I know that meat-eaters are usually well-intentioned in their conversations with vegans. I think when a meat eater brings up veganism at the dinner table, they are often surprised at the awkward moment that ensues…because they hadn’t thought of the ethical reasons that someone might abstain from eating animals. And as a vegan, it is really hard to come across non-judgmentally when the person you are talking to is in the process of eating an animal! Thank you for the comment, I am glad this post went over well with a meat-eater and not just with my vegan readers. 🙂

      Reply
  5. radioactivegan

    #3 is the worst. I totally agree with you — there’s nothing I *can’t* eat, and putting it that way makes it seem cheaper. It’s a choice I’m making every time I pick up a fork, and it’s a choice I want to make. Poor omnivores don’t know how frustrating they can be.

    Reply
  6. Ian

    Great list. My other favorites:

    1) “won’t your kids get picked on in school?” Yes because we all got picked on for eating PB&J, cliff bars, a banana, and a juice box.

    2) “how can that be healthy for you?” Seriously? I mean, seriously? Have you ever read an article about changing your diet for the better? 99% of it is vegan.

    3) “you’re STILL a vegan?” As if its a phase like Hammer pants. If you’re over 21 and vegan chances are you’re eating vegan for good.

    4) “what do you eat at restaurants?” My napkin. Amazingly enough, trained chefs can cook without animal products.

    Reply
  7. Ian

    Great list. Here are my favorites:

    1) “Won’t your kids get picked on?” Of course, because we all got picked on for eating PB&J, a cliff bar, a bananna, and a juiced box.

    2) “Your STILL a vegan?” As if its a phase, like wearing Hammer pants. If you’re over 21 and eating vegan chances are you’re staying that way.

    3) “How can you be sure its healthy?” Seriously? I mean, seriously? Have you ever asked a person who quit smoking if they regret it because its not proven that smoking is unhealthy? Find any magazine article about changing your diet to eat better and what does it say: eat more fruits and vegetables, eat more proteins from beans and legumes, and consume more omega 3s from nuts (and they will say fish).

    4) “What do you eat at restaurants?” My napkin. Amazingly enough, trained chefs know how to cook…even without butter. Wow.

    5) “That’s really hard, huh? I could never do that.” This comment/question is always so debilitatingly sad to me. It says so much about the person saying it. When I was 21 I scoffed at vegans, vegetarians, and other people I thought holier than though. Then I did something amazing – I put my bias aside and read a few books. That’s all it took. To me, its about health, not the animals. I’m much more healthy than I was before. It wasn’t hard.

    Reply
    • Elysiarenee

      I actually think how can you be sure you are healthy is a valid one. There are a lot of obvious health benefits but in terms of being sure you are getting all the nutrients you need there are a lot easier more efficient ways to get say b12 calcium and iron. Making it seem like veganism is inherently healthier without question is misleading. Whatever ones diet people need to take care they are getting what their body needs. My answer to this question is always that being vegan makes me more conscious to make sure I adequately meet my nutritional needs and as a result I probably know more about nutrition and my own dietry health than the majority of nonvegans

      Reply
      • Rave

        Thing is, vegans are probably far more healthy than most because a higher awareness of your nutritional needs typically equates to a better diet. All diets have their pitfalls, eating meat is supposedly one of the leading causes of bowel and colon cancer, but soy has been linked to various forms of cancer and hormonal imbalances, drinking cows milk isn’t natural to us, yet many do it and have both health benefits and negative consequences. Overall, vegans and vegetarians as a group probably have a higher strike rate for good health, vegetarian diets are considered to be the healthiest in terms of lonevity, and comparing a typical vegan to a typical non vego, you might notice a significant difference in health – not necessarily because meat is bad, but because places like mcdonalds don’t cater to vegans, and like it or not, a large proportion of the meat eating demographic frequent places like that far too often. Plenty of vegos and probably vegans do too, but there’s a whole lot less we can eat there.

        Reply
      • Dee

        I agree mostly with Rave. I’ve done research and read studies on veganism vs. vegetarianism vs. omnivore diets and the only real consensus is that eating too much meat is not good. Other than that, it all kind of comes out evenly. Some studies say vegans are healthier, some say they’re not (however, there are very few studies looking at actual vegans, which is an issue). So I do think a higher awareness of health is probably the culprit.

        I haven’t gone vegan for my health (ethical reasons). And I don’t think veganism is always healthier than some forms of omnivore diet. But I also don’t think it’s any less healthy, which is also really key (b/c a big argument of meat-eaters is that it’s unhealthy – I don’t think so, not if you pay attention like with any healthy diet). And it helps more with the environment and eases my conscience.

        Reply
  8. Kim Flemming

    I love this!! Just being vegan since January 9th, 2011, I don’t have all the answer yet. This is good stuff!!

    Reply
  9. Rebecca

    This gave me a chuckle. Thank you. I just spent the weekend away from home and first of all, my friend was so accomodating and respectful to my family and our plant-based lifestyle. She made a vegan dinner and bought us a 1/2 gallon of rice milk 🙂 But, we had a social gathering with my girlfriends and all are so curious about my change to not eating dairy and eggs anymore. One friend basically said…so, what do you eat now, twigs and berries? I wish I had brought this with me and just handed it out as the guests came in for our get-together!

    Reply
    • Rebekah

      That is awesome that your friend was so helpful! I also have some incredible friends and family who always make sure to keep vegan stuff on hand for us – like soy milk, earth balance, vegenaise, tofurky slices…seriously, I could (and should!) write a whole post about it. LOL at the twigs and berries comment. 🙂

      Reply
  10. Heidi

    THANK YOU so much for posting this!!!
    It is ridiculous how everyone who aren’t vegan, ask the same questions over and over again.
    This is so true!

    Reply
  11. Norma Nill

    I really got a chuckle from your posts and all the comments, Rebekah. My personal favorite of your list was #9 because, I must admit, I’d never thought of that one. I can empathize with those who ask #2 because it reveals the myth that protein is only found in animal products. Who knew that even bread contains protein?! Thanks for writing!

    Reply
  12. Jessica

    oh man! TOTALLY! One Ive heard a few times this summer (besides the ‘protein’ question, which I respond that they really should read ‘the china study’) is the “I don’t know… I mean it’s just the way the food chain goes, you know?”
    I just shake my head. I.Dont.Even.Know.How.To.Respond.To.You!

    Reply
    • Jessica

      OH! And one more thing- an ex-friends husband asked my husband, ‘What kind of a man doesnt eat meat? You queer or something?’ And my ex- friend laughed.

      Reply
      • Lotsa Green

        “No, I am bi, by the way, your a** looks quite tasty to me” and trying to look very hungry…or aroused..or both.

        Reply
    • Rebekah

      I’ve heard the “I climbed my way to the top of the food chain, and I’m not about to be a vegetarian!” before. I always think, really, YOU climbed to the top of the food chain?! Wow, what was that like? LOL

      Reply
    • Rebekah

      Fair enough. I think my survival instinct would kick in at the point of life or death, but it’s all speculation as I’ve had the fortune of always having plentiful food.

      Reply
      • Brett

        I agree, Rebekah. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong about an animal eating another animal, it happens in nature all the time. My probably is when that meat-fix is satisfied by treating living beings as commodities, at the expense of health of people and the planet itself.

        Reply
    • Dee

      I’m with Brett on this one. I’d eat animals if the animals we ate weren’t tortured before and during death, weren’t over-farmed/hunted/fished, and were given the respect they deserve for dying for our consumption.

      It does happen in nature all the time, and we are naturally omnivores (even if we don’t HAVE to eat meat all the time). If a pig and I were in the wild and both starving I’d eat him and he’d eat me, if we were given the chance.

      Reply
  13. John L (@piroteknix)

    I’ve been a vegetarian for ten years, and the most common one I hear is “I could never do it. I love steak/bacon/chicken too much” To that, I usually respond “Oh, I’m sure you could. I guarantee you’ve eaten a vegetarian meal in your life once before. Ever have just cereal or a bagel for breakfast?”

    The most annoying one? “PETA. People Eating Tasty Animals.” I dislike PETA as much as – and probably more than – most meat-eaters do. Second place: “Vegetarian is an old Indian word for ‘bad hunter.'” That one’s just plain untrue.

    Reply
    • Rebekah

      The PETA joke is another one that I think most meat-eaters feel so clever saying as if it is the first time we’ve ever heard it! I swear someone posts it in the comments section of any news article that mentions PETA. And I’m not a fan of their tactics either.

      Reply
      • Brett

        I don’t necessarily agree with the way PETA does business, either. But I’ve got to respect the way that they throw themselves fully behind a belief and just fuckin’ go for it, no apologies.

        Reply
    • Candace

      I had a guy at work tell me that he was going to convert me back to being a meat eater. And EVERY TIME he would find me eating, he would accuse me of eating meat or say he checked the ingredients of my food and there was meat in it. It drove me nuts!

      Reply
      • Heidi

        Oh man I HATE it when they do that. They think it’s humorous everytime.

        I’ve started responding with “You checked the ingredients? Guranteed you have no clue what you’re looking for.”

        Reply
  14. Ryan

    Some dumb people will ask “then why are animals put on this Earth for?” Hinting that they are specifically put on this Earth for the sole purpose of being eaten. ;(

    Reply
    • Lotsa Green

      Or why animals are made out of meat if we shouldn´t eat them.

      Mostly I just ask, so humans are made out of meat too, can I take a bite out of you? Just one bite won´t hurt…which is also a good reply to the argument-> “Come on, one bite won´t hurt” and beeing offered a piece of carcass

      Reply
      • Jolene

        right, so God takes some meat, and then forms an animal. ‘Hmmm I think I’ll use a tender sirloin for this cow, just in case the humans like it’s juciness, and then I think here, I’ll make this pig’s rear end out of a nice ham. I’ll even give it melatonin enhancements so it can withstand deep pressures from heat and turn a nice auburn in everyones ovens. Ahh, just perfect for Humanity’s Soon-to-come annual fests.’ I:-B Stand corrected, Biology and Nutritionally Challenged. Animals are not made out of meat. Meat is made out of animals. People take what is meant to just be something called “flesh” and then turn it into the new word, “meat”. That’s how that whole thing works out. 🙂

        Reply
    • RD

      I hate that. Esp when it’s a Christian (I’m one too) who’s like, “They’re here for food!” That’s easy, though, b/c in the Bible we’re told to care for the whole earth. I think our factory farming and overtaxing the environment counts easily as bad stewardship (also, stewardship – we’re caring for it FOR God; it’s not really ours in the first place, we’re borrowing it). You’d think Christians would be more for veganism or other similar things, not against it.

      Reply
  15. Brett

    A good reply to “Why don’t you eat meat?” is to say “Well, why DO you eat meat?” It usually makes someone think uncomfortably and revealingly about a topic that they take for granted. “Because it tastes good/it’s what humans have always done” are my favorite common replies.

    Reply
  16. Lexical Luthor

    I don’t know how many times I’ve had to explain that chickens aren’t vegetables. I might consume chicken the day the species develops cell walls and chloroplasts, but at that point I think our new photosynthesizing poultry overlords would be more concerned about eating us.

    To my friends, family, peers, and critics: if it once drew breath and didn’t make glucose out of sunshine, I’m not stuffing my gob with it.

    In the meantime, chickens are dumb and adorable and need to be left alone. For now…

    Reply
    • Lotsa Green

      Chicken are not dumb, they are very clever little birds…well, unfortunately not mean enough to overthrow their human slavers…

      Reply
    • Maria

      The other one I get asked a ridiculous amount of times is “Do you eat fish?”. How does a fish in any way resemble a plant!??!?!?

      Reply
      • Nicole

        If you specify that you don’t eat anything with eyes…you will inevitably be challenged with “potatoes have eyes, do you eat them”. Sigh.

        Reply
    • Rave

      Chickens are smarter than you think. They have a grasp of numbers (peck this three times and get food. Peck it once for water, etc), they have a complex social structure and they recognise and remember individuals. Smarter than many humans I’ve met.

      Reply
  17. Kyle Greggory

    Oh, the one that makes my blood boil is the opposite to your number 2… when somebody tells me I LOOK LIKE a vegan. I’m extremely skinny, but I’ve ALWAYS been skinny. When somebody tells me that veganism is the cause for my supposedly “unhealthy” weight, it just makes me so so angry!

    I do understand that a healthy vegan diet can lead to weight loss (heaven knows not all vegan diets are healthy, haha), but begin vegan has had no apparent effect on my own weight, and it irks me to no end when people assume there’s an association.

    It also makes me angry because I just hate the ignorance attached to the idea that all vegans look the same (like what you said). We come in all shapes and sizes. I just wish I could enjoy my soy latte or cheeseless veggie burger in peace, without the dumb questions and assumptions.

    Love this post by the way :).

    Reply
    • Candace

      I totally get this. I’ve been skinny my entire life. And then after awhile, I developed an eating disorder and got REALLY SKINNY. When I was attempting to recover, I turned to veganism to help give me a passion in something. Now, my weight is now not nearly as low but still underweight, so when people tell me that I look unhealthy or that I have an eating disorder, I find it to be VERY offensive.

      Reply
      • Christine

        I’m glad that veganism is the passion you picked to make a positive change in your life! Congrats on your road to recovery!

        It is *ridiculously* offensive when people assume veganism is the reason for being thin. I get the same line all the time, “oh that’s why you’re skinny.” I will look people in the eye and tell them it’s genetic. Genes do matter, people! Vegans don’t tell omnis, “oh well your omnivorous diet must be why you’re heavy.”

        Reply
  18. Jim Boyle

    Good list of questions and answers Rebekah.
    For the one about protein – question 9 -, I usually talk about “amino-acid complementarity” (I used to work for a guy called Mike Lean who is human nutrition professor at Glasgow University, Scotland). This idea means that the amino acids from bread/pasta/rice combine with the amino acids from beans/peas/lentils to give you exactly the same protein as the amino acids in steak/ham/chicken.
    Question 1 is a no-brainer. Livestock’s Long Shadow (a UNFAO report in 2006) pointed out that livestock contribute 18% of all global greenhouse gas emissions – way more than the entire transport costs of all cars, planes, trains, ships on the planet. (http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.HTM).

    Reply
  19. Carol

    I love “but where do you get your fat calories from?”. I’ve also been asked “But if you have a baby, how would it get its calcium?”!!! Or “Come on – one bite (of whatever once-living creature or their secretions) isn’t going to hurt!” I agree with the PETA comments, and believe that those who make it deliberately in front of vegans who are so for the animals are only doing so because a nerve’s been hit with them.

    Reply
    • Jolene

      yeah-I don’t think God created plants with feelings, nor after sin did they develop to care. Maybe Pixar should make a movie though describing the microscopic perception of plants towards mankind as we consume their species, and maybe itll start something. But you know………………..likkke………….what else are we supposed to eat here anyways?!

      I mean what’s next? just soil? rocks, perhaps?

      Reply
  20. Bee

    My personal favourite, said at the dinner table by someone I’d never met before: “but lions eat meat!”

    Made me wonder if maybe I needed to trim my mane or something…

    Reply
  21. sandi

    People always say to me “I don’t understand how you can not eat meat.” It took me a long time to realize that the answer to that was “I don’t understand how you can”.

    Reply
  22. Thadeus Fishman

    What if you were on an island, and there were only animals to eat …” ~ this is not even a good hypthetical possibility. I would eat the plants that are keeping these animals alive ~ I would follow them and learn from them. In order for them to even be alive, there must be a working ecosystem and a food-chain here. I always answer similarly ~ ALL herbivores, even the mighty elephant, get enough protein and enough calcium from a plant-based diet. What made you decide to become vegan? Just going back to me roots is all ~ look at our teeth, long digestive tract, our not having claws or talons … I’m just getting back to the road we should have been on before we deviated somewhere. It is also a fact that around 50% of humanity on the planet are living a vegetarian lifestyle ~ its really just the affluent west and their influence where they have spread their culture that meat and dairy are consumed. These are where cancer, heart disease and diabetes flourish as well. And if you empathize the same for a carrot as you do for a cow, then let me tell you that it takes 16 pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat (lets not EVEN get into the precious commodity of water used). So if you love plants, cut out the livestock middleman, and save the lives of an enormous quantity of crops (and so many rainforest acres felled daily to produce them).

    Reply
    • Jolene

      To me, this type of question is a mock coming from subconscious guilt or insecurity, almost like they need to make themselves feel better just because they don’t know how to be considerate enough towards this issue. They try to challenge you with that special “one-way-out” equation that strictly reveals the strength in their belief just to deem themselves reasonable enough to get away with munching another cheeseburger.

      Reply
      • Jolene

        And right you are about the cancer, heart disease, ect. issue. If you watch some of these documents on what the animals go through for us, it should become as clear as a solved math problem as to why these illnesses and diseases keep mysteriously coming into healthy lives. And if you’re a vegan, and it STILL happens, theeen I say blame family genetics–oh yeah, or your former dieting habits.

        Reply
  23. Rave

    Provoke the vegetarian is a fun game. There’s always somebody who tries to catch you out.

    “Do you wear leather?”
    “Do you chew gum?”

    Been there, done that, got answers for em all. I once had a guy ask me (after overhearing another guy trying to catch me out – this time about my reasoning for doing it – I said factory farming) if I would have preferred to do it like humans at the dawn of time did, beating their prey to death with their bare hands. I responded quite simply with the fact that the earliest humans were scavengers, eating whatever was left over (which is backed up by our teeth – if we evolved from hunters, why do we have more teeth for eating grass and an appendix? And not enough teeth to make a kill?).

    Some people just take offence at your existence. One guy kept bringing it up, trying to argue with me about it, even his friends got sick of it.

    Another one is the waving meat around or deliberately making something that has meat in it (my dad does this). I just go and raid his supply of biscuits.

    The comparison between plants and animals is also simply dealt with – animals have a central nervous system – plants do not, they react, certainly, but also consider that we’re fulfilling a biological imperative – fruits and vegetables, when ripe, are intended as a lure for us to eat so we’ll spread their seeds, which has led to us cultivating them – though i’m not fond of intensive farming, its bad for the land.

    Reply
    • Nicole

      I don’t know if you are a Christian or not (or Jewish) but in the Bible, people did not eat animals until after the flood. They did just fine for several hundred years at the least without meat. It wasn’t something people even considered to be food.

      Reply
  24. Candace

    I love it when people tell me that “too much soy” is bad for you. These are from the same people who eat A TON of processed food that has TONS of soy in it. I usually tell them, “when you eat less soy, let me know… I’ll do the same!”

    Reply
  25. Candace

    OH, and another favorite, “just try one bite.” My husband’s mom asks this of him ALL THE TIME. Yeah? Just one small compromise of values?

    Reply
    • Nicole

      I have found that if I reply…ok, I don’t eat meat and find it a horrible practice. If I vomit a little bit on your plate will you just take one bite? You might convert ya know…

      Reply
  26. Michele

    Great list and I’ve heard them all! My very smart husband has the best response I’ve heard to the “stranded on an island” question: What are the animals eating? I’d follow them and eat whatever they are eating.

    Reply
    • Rebecca

      If the person responds “the other animals are eating other animals” then that means the island is chock full of carnivores like lions. And this means us humans don’t stand a chance of survival on said island as we will become dinner rather quickly.

      Reply
  27. sonia ess

    i find the interrogations are not actually about the questions asked, but rather to blatantly show disrespect and disregard for lifestyles different to those of the interrogator. i have been vegetarian since 1976 and i’m pretty sure i’ve heard it all. i very much prefer to keep company with vegans/vegetarians, or at the very least people who choose not to offend me by eating vegetarian in my company, as i choose to eat vegan in the company of vegans. mostly people suck. do not be deluded that you are educating people by answering their shitty questions, you are only being ridiculed.

    Reply
  28. Sbee

    I hated where do you get your B12. I’m not vegan anymore, got anemia — my own fault for donating blood, but will go back. Still haven’t eaten meat, don’t intend to. What I found most amazing was the anger people had towards non-meat eaters. Almost rage in some cases. Why?

    Reply
  29. Jim Boyle

    B12 is present in yeast extract – Marmite in UK, maybe Vegemite in US?
    I donate blood every three weeks but my haemoglobin is nearly always ok (one time in 30 years it was 13.2 instead of 13.4). As long as you take time between donations it should be safe to donate.
    I think the anger usually comes from “cognitive dissonance” – the angry person knows that what you are saying is right but he or she doesn’t want to confront their own frailties.

    Reply
  30. CW

    I’ve heard all these before too! One other that I’ve had said to me is “well what would happen to all the animals if we just stopped eating them?”…

    Reply
  31. Cathy

    If your stranded on a desert island and there was nothing to eat but animals…I’d probably go for whatever it was the animals were eating to survive.

    Reply
  32. sheila

    one thing i get a lot when people find out i’m vegan is “so what? do you think you’re saving animals just because you don’t eat them? they’re still going to kill animals regardless so you not eating meat/dairy products doesn’t change anything”

    Reply
    • HotVeganChick

      OH MY GOD I GET THE SAME THING! These people are always like, “well, they’re going to get killed anyways.” They make it seem like they are helping “food” not go to waste, when in reality they’re just contributing to the slaughter of animals. Someone needs to educate these people. . .

      Reply
  33. colleen

    As an omnivore i found this enlightening!! I have friends who are vegan – which is how i came to see this post – and I dont feel that we offend one anothers sensibilities.
    Ive always assumed Vegan diets were about health or being proactive about changing the way animals are treated.
    Why do i eat meat? after thinking about this i find that i can only answer that i eat meat because its what i’m used to, there is a comfort in the known.
    If I ask a vegan or vegetarian questions about their diet it isn’t intended to ridicule or mock but to understand so that i don’t offend – the same way i would ask questions of a foreigner or someone who holds different religious beliefs.
    Thankyou for sharing
    Colleen

    Reply
  34. Robin

    Nice list. What you forgot is that eating vegan IS a way to help humans and IS a way to help plants. Far more plants are destroyed to make an animal-derived meal than a plant-derived meal (because so many plants are wasted in the conversion to milk/meat). Therefore, the way to be kind to plants is to be vegan. Similarly, the human costs of animal foods include public health dangers, environmental destruction, and wasting of food, all of which actively harm HUMANS. Being vegan is, in and of itself, a way to care for humans.

    Reply
  35. Corinne

    Love, love LOVE #7 – I get people telling me that all the time and I’m only a vegetarian – though trying to become vegan one step at a time! I can’t wait to try out Daiya when I’m in the States in the next few weeks!

    Reply
  36. Meredith

    I just saw this list for the first time. I can most relate with number one. I am vegetarian and volunteer with an animal rescue and adoption group. People always joke to me about loving animals more than people. I do not understand why they must be mutually exclusive. It is obviously possible to do both, and passionately, at that! At least I’m not the only one being asked such a very silly question.

    Keep up the positive work! :]

    Reply
  37. Tracy

    This page is absolutely unreadable in my browser (Chrome). Please consider changing the background because I would love to come back and be able to see the text.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Rebekah

      That’s strange, I use chrome as my default browser and I can view it just fine. There is no background underneath the text, just white. Hmmm…something to ask my web-designer husband tonight! Sorry you’re having trouble reading it.

      Reply
  38. Case

    Hi Rebekah –
    I just read and enjoyed your post when it was in my “Recommended Items” on Google Reader. Perhaps this is covered in the comments above (my apologies for not reading them all – so many for this popular post!), but I think there are even better reasons that vegans and vegetarians should espouse in response to Q #1. Choosing not to eat animals (or animal products) DOES help people! In oh-so-many ways. Just a few of the top of my head: 1) it keeps people from working deplorable slaughterhouse conditions; 2) it frees up food production resources for people that really need it; 3) it reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps the environment; 4) it does not contribute to the overuse of antibiotics which helps them be more effective when people need them. Hope these thoughts are helpful.
    All the best,
    Case

    Reply
    • Rebekah

      Thanks for sharing! All great reasons to abstain from eating animal products. I always say that being vegan is a win-win situation for so many reasons – animals, health, environment, world hunger, etc. There’s really no downside!

      Reply
  39. veg eater

    RE # 9. ”But where do you get your protein?”
    Where exactly do they think the animals they are eating get their protein?…

    Reply
  40. ryry

    Is number 8 really that bad? Maybe I don’t understand the context, but If I take the time to source an ethically raised/procured meat product and prepare a great meal then is it insensitive to talk about it? Should a Vegan’s personal decision to not eat meat products come in the way of meat-based culinary conversations?

    Reply
    • Rebekah

      For one on one conversations, I do think it is insensitive – why would a vegan be interested in hearing about meat, anyway? If the meat eater knows that the vegan doesn’t eat meat, especially if they are ethically opposed to eating meat (which most are)…then it strikes me as a puzzling choice to describe this meat in detail. If there is a whole group of people having a conversation and a vegan happens to be in that group, then that’s different and not really what I am talking about. I agree that people shouldn’t have to tiptoe around the conversation just because a vegan is in the room.

      Reply
      • ryry

        Fair enough. I suppose it’s best to exercise caution since you can’t identify whether someone is vegan on ethical, dietary, or environmental grounds.

        Reply
    • RD

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I’m a vegan and wouldn’t be offended or upset unless the intention of the conversation was to offend or upset me. I like to talk about my food sometimes, and I’m fine with questions or discussion about it, and I do the same with meat-eaters when appropriate.

      Reply
  41. Markus Lund (@markuslund)

    Research shows that when mankind switched from vegetables to eating meat, many thousand years ago BC, that it’s the point where mankind really started to develop. Intellectually and physically. It is said that this is an important breaking point in human history. I get that not eating meat in this day and age is a choice. But never ever say that it is unnatural for man to eat meat.

    Reply
  42. HotVeganChick

    Oh! The one that really annoys me is, “you have to take vitamins haha, and I don’t!”
    I’m like, “uhhh everyone should take multi-vitamins?”

    This is what I get for being in high school surrounded by a bunch of airheads. -_-

    Reply
  43. Stef

    amen! I think my favorite is “why are you okay with killing plants if theyre living things too?”
    It’s like dude. Animals have organs and have pain receptors. They run away when they are in danger and are intelligent beings. I have yet to see my celery run away screaming off of my cutting board.”

    And not only that, but 80% of plants feed livestock. Gotta love the irony here, folks.

    Reply
  44. chels744

    Another thing to add: “Just order a salad” whenever you are negotiating an outing with a vegan. That one is very annoying, because salads are ridiculously overpriced in restaurants, and do not make adequate meals on their own. I want to go to a restaurant that at least serves beans or rice if not quality meat replacements.

    Reply
  45. Lily B.

    Fun list! I know this is like ages after you wrote it, but I figured I’d comment.

    I’m a vegan, but a new one (I’m barely in the club – I’ve only been at this for like a month). Though I’ve been on and off with eating only plants for like a year and a half. I haven’t gotten many of these yet, mostly because I haven’t (and don’t plan to) told anyone. Most of my family is semi-educated and very religious (for one religion or another), and so logic isn’t a huge part of what they believe. Although, I have a PhD educated relative who is almost the same way… But they quote the Bible out of context, don’t understand the damage that antibiotic overuse has, don’t believe in climate change or damaging greenhouse gases, don’t think animals (other than dogs and cats, sort of) have feelings or can sense pain, and think that eating animal products is our God-given right.

    My point is like that earlier poster’s – we’re supposed to take care of the planet and its inhabitants. We’re sucking hard at that right now. I hate the attitude that because we’re the dominant species that we should dominate and destroy and exploit as we see fit. It’s bullying and it’s awful. Being cruel to animals and wasteful of resources because we can is crappy.

    But yeah, I have not eaten cheese or dairy in 5 years (it makes a condition I have flare up badly). I get the “oh my god, I could never be vegan because I’m in love with cheese” thing a lot. Yeah, I get it, cheese is delicious and practically divine in taste, but the pain it causes me coupled with how awful dairy cows are treated keeps me off the stuff for good.

    And dear lord, I can’t even begin to tell you how upset most of my family would be if they found out I was vegan. Some might even disown me after figuring out WHY I’m vegan (not kidding – tons of my relatives are basically militant about food – it’s bizarre). Oh well. I’ll deal with it if/when it comes up. No issues so far (although, again, only a month in).

    Reply
  46. Nicole

    Some of my personal “favorites” are: “Are your kids vegetarian/vegan too? Yes? So you think it’s right to push your beliefs on them….shouldn’t it be their choice?” How do they miss that they feed their kids dead flesh without the child’s permission? That by and large families have the same diet. If I don’t think it’s ok to stomp out the life of another being they why would I give it to my children? Always love the friends who think it’s funny to talk about killing animals or suggest at every turn that you eat meat. Yet how often do we try to impose the choice on them? For me…almost never ever. And I don’t know about you…but being a vegetarian/vegan for me does not mean that every single dish must be loaded with mushrooms which I find disgusting!

    Reply
  47. Renny

    The only one I still have trouble answering is, “How do you justify killing of animals (intentionally or unintentionally) during the farming and harvesting of fruit and vegetables?” I don’t have the land to grow all of my own food, nor do I think I would be happy to share half my yields with pests if I were farming it all myself. I don’t think there is any way for me to live without indirectly killing or harming animals. It makes me sad, but I could never bring myself to take the next step and ingest them. The closest I can get is to buy as much as I can locally from farms that offer organic and natural pest deterrence. The other good one I get is, “Is your cat vegan too?” No. I feed him meat.

    Reply
  48. Recent Vegan

    This is a stellar list, thx!!! The best line I have ever heard was “God gave us teeth to eat meat”, too funny, especially coming from a doctor!! Anyway, I will have to admit though that #2 is valid based on my experience…specifically, what’s missing in its description is “do we look sickly?” and I would have to say yes…most (99%; roughly 30 people sample size) of the vegans I’ve met over the years look like they have one foot in the grave…gaunt, lethargic, and overall sickly looking quite frankly. The only meat eaters I’ve met that fit this description are fighting some type of cancer…

    Reply

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. comments made against a vegan diet…. « Dennis' Web Site.com

    […] http://veganspoonful.com/2011/04/13/top-10-things-never-to-say-to-a-vegetarian/ […]

  2. 10 overused “questions” asked to vegans « Vegan Matters

    […] loved this article from Vegan Spoonful – the “top 10 things never to say to a vegan,” or as I […]

  3. 10 Ways to Accommodate a Vegan | Vegan Spoonful

    […] the past week, my post “10 Things Never to Say to a Vegan” has been re-posted and shared quite a bit, generating an unprecedented amount of traffic. […]

  4. Vegetarianismo – Básico « Idea Stock

    […] (Fonte: VegansPoll) […]

  5. Eat Drink Better | Eating Vegan: Responding Constructively to Anti-Veg Myths | Eat Drink Better

    […] Top 10 Things Never to Say to a Vegan (with responses) […]