Every vegan needs a few good responses to questions or comments from nonvegans. Vegans who do any sort of animal advocacy are in particular need of good, pithy “comebacks” to questions or criticism.
Vegan Outreach, a nonprofit that advocates for a plant-based diet through simple yet effective means, has a list of good responses (and a FAQ) to nonvegans who question or criticize veganism. The responses cover many of the common questions. For example, Vegan Outreach explains one way to respond to a very common comment “I like meat.” VO gives this example response:
“Although I also used to like meat and though it may taste good, eating it supports a great deal of cruelty that I hope you would not want to pay for.”
Check out all of the responses at http://www.adoptacollege.org/responses
But reading through the responses I noticed that some are not a perfect fit for me. I receive different questions and thus I need different responses. And some responses offered by VO don’t accurately describe my veganism. Here are some of my own responses…
“I like meat.”
I grew up vegetarian so I don’t really know what it tastes like but I’m sure I would like the taste of it, too. Sometimes I like the smell. Lots of vegans love the taste of meat but they decided to choose vegan alternatives because they didn’t want to contribute to animal suffering. Nothing tastes as good as compassion feels.
“Are you trying to make me feel guilty for eating meat?”
No, I’m not trying to make you feel guilty and I’m sorry if you feel guilty; I’m just trying to help stop animal cruelty.
“I think I signed a petition about this already.”
That’s great, but I’m not collecting signatures or money… I’m urging people who care about animals to remember that they care about animals when they sit down for dinner.
“Did you lose weight when you went vegan?”
Lots of people do lose weight when they go vegan. The average vegetarian or vegan is slimmer than the average meat-eater. But weight-loss isn’t why I went vegan; I’m vegan for the animals.
“I can’t go vegan.”
OK, what can you do? Do you think you can eat fewer animals? Do you think you could eat more plants?
“Isn’t it hard?”
It gets easier everyday. The world is changing and there are more and vegan options. Sometimes it’s not even on the menu but if you ask, they have something. You’d never even know unless you asked!
“Aren’t your shoes leather?”
No, they’re synthetic/ fabric/ recycled plastic… They say “vegan” on the label. Isn’t that cool?
“Do you eat honey?”
I don’t. But I don’t care if you do. That’s not really what this is about. Let’s start with the cows and chickens, OK? Later, when you’re vegetarian, we can talk about the bees if you’re really interested.
“I can’t look at these horrible pictures.”
No? OK then just skip to the back of the pamphlet where the yummy food is. [Or sometimes I'll just trade them and give them a recipe booklet instead of a booklet about animal agribusiness's rampant cruelty.]
“I’m already vegan.”
Great! Do you think you could give this pamphlet to someone who isn’t? Pass it along; sharing is caring!
What are some common questions you receive? And how do you respond to them?
This article was originally published Nov 28, 2010. It has been reprinted with minor edits.