Thanks to everyone who read or shared (Tia) my last blog post! Obviously you can tell I’m passionate about my decision to embrace this lifestyle. However, one aspect of veganism that I’m not always excited about is the frequent questioning. Some of them are fine, and I’m happy to share more information. But sometimes, I feel a little insulted by either the way in which the question was asked or even by the question itself.
Often times the questioner doesn’t mean any harm, so I try not to take it to heart. If you’re vegan, I’m sure you’ve run into many similar situations where you just don’t really want to explain that protein isn’t only from meat! Or that yes, you can eat bread. (This comes up more often than you think). Here’s a few of my most frequently asked vegan questions, as well as some tips for how to deal with unwanted or rude comments.
Q. What do you eat?
A. Everything! Literally, anything I want. If there’s a food that’s not specifically “vegan,” I can easily find a plant-based alternative. There’s cheese made from almonds, ice cream from coconuts, tofu scrambled eggs and Beyond Meat burgers. I get plenty of protein from the rich variety of foods I eat, and I’m perfectly satisfied!
Q. Don’t plants have feelings too?
A. No. There has been numerous studies, but plants do not “feel” in the same sense that humans and animals do. They do not have a nervous system or brain, and therefore do not feel.
Q. Do you eat bread?
A. Yes. Vegans don’t eat animal products, but they do eat gluten. As much as I hate to admit it, this is actually a good question. Some breads, especially dessert breads or those baked in a bakery, may contain egg or milk. In that case, it would not be vegan. In general, most sandwich breads are fine. But at a specialty bakery it’s worth asking.
Q. What if you’re stranded on a desert island?
A. …yeah. If I was dying and I had nothing else, I would eat meat. I’m pretty sure any sane person would.
Q. Is it hard?
A. Not at all! I think for some people it can be difficult because they either 1. don’t educate themselves (I recommend seeing a nutritionist) and end up missing a lot of nutrients, or 2. they’re so used to highly processed foods that they don’t yet have a taste for real food. Many people crave cheese, but that’s because one of the proteins in dairy, casein, is addictive. With the right research and attitude, going vegan can be an easy transition. Soon it’ll become habit and you’ll never look back!
Q. Is it ok if I eat this (meat) in front of you?
A. Some vegans may answer differently, but I find I’m not one to preach or argue over a meal. I’d much rather have the time to think and write out a good, educated response such as this blog post. So if you want to eat that chicken in front of me, go right ahead. Maybe later we can talk about the importance of veganism and why you should second guess that choice. But for now, let’s just enjoy our lunches.
Dealing with unwanted comments:
Let’s be real, vegans are frequently misunderstood. Before I went vegan, I never imagined giving up chicken or bacon or greek yogurt, all foods I love! So I try to keep in mind that not everyone will have the same views as me, and likely don’t realize the impact they can have on their health and environment if they give up animal products.
I’ve also realized that most people don’t want to feel attacked or like a bad person. So if presented wrong, veganism can seem threatening, and the first response is defensiveness and an immediately closed mind. The worst thing you can do is attack someone with your beliefs, even if it is out of passion! But sometimes comments come without any provocation. So, what do you do if someone won’t leave you alone?
If they’re genuinely curious:
Provide them with some credible resources and recommended reading. Feel free to share as much info as you want, but once you get tired or run out of answers, don’t feel ashamed to redirect them to other sources. Maybe they’re considering going vegan!
If they won’t stop with the vegan jokes:
If you have any meat-eater jokes, go for it. I don’t know of many so I usually just smile politely and change the subject. They want a reaction, whether it’s a laugh or anger, so the best way to stop the teasing is to simply walk away (or walk the conversation in a new direction).
If they start arguing:
Some people are just as passionate about milk as I am about plants. And they may even have facts to back up their argument as to why humans desperately need milk! Normally I offer a few different points (humans are drinking baby cow growth fluid, it’s not normal for an animal to drink another animal’s milk, milk has been linked to hip fractures in recent studies, you can get calcium and vitamin D from other plant-based foods). Maybe you’re down for a good debate, but if you’re like me and would rather not argue anymore, the best thing to do is accept our differences. “It’s ok that we don’t agree but I’d prefer not to argue about this anymore.” If they still don’t stop, go ahead and be rude. If they’re belligerent and refuse to leave you alone, they probably deserve it.
Have you dealt with vegan questions or comments? Or are you normally the one asking? Let me know in the comments!