HOW TO ANSWER WHEN PEOPLE QUESTION YOU ON WHY YOU’RE VEGAN

Let’s face it: there’s no one-fits-all answer to the question ‘why are you vegan?’

Which is a shame, because it’s a question I get asked a lot, and it’s really difficult to come up with a nuanced, articulate answer that conveys every that veganism encompasses without a) sounding rehearsed, b) boring everyone to tears or c) crying.

My favourite response (which is ‘because I’m not a fucking dickhead’) doesn’t really get you anywhere. Unless it’s your mum asking, in which case it’ll get you grounded. So how does one respond to…

(Oh, btw, affiliate links are asterisked. Asterisked. What a word.)

…Trolls on the internet

It really depends on the troll. There’s just so many. To the point where they’ll argue for the sake of it, so my advice is to dazzle them with your brilliance. @amyythevegan has a wealth of information in her threads that you can use.

The good thing about the internet is that you can take the time to google the appropriate answers.

Or ignore them.

That works too.

There are a lot of angry, frightened people on the internet. 3000 dairy farms closed down last year in the US, and vegans are being blamed (fair enough, tbh, but I’m still glad).

It can be a touchy subject for a lot of people, so being calm and measured in your response is probably more useful than calling people arseholes.

There’s been a rather worrying rise in the carnivore movement, which is where a load of weird people eat nothing but meat FOR THEIR HEALTH. And then claim a plant-based diet is unhealthy and restrictive. I’m sorry but no. Just last night I had battered fake fish courtesy of Quorn and it was DELICIOUS.

…Worried parents

Give them a copy of Michael Greger’s How Not To Die*.

Remind them of the number of times you were forced encouraged to eat your broccoli.

Tell them that the reason why you’re vegan is that you want to love forever.

They can’t not be on board with that.

People of a certain generation truly believe that the government ‘wouldn’t let’ animals be treated badly.

That halal is cruel but our methods aren’t, and that animals are unconscious before they’re killed.

They believe that we need to consume meat and milk for strength. It’s extremely difficult to undo that depth of belief – it permeates every part of their being.

So attacking their choices probably won’t work. You have to defend your lifestyle instead – grow big and strong and happy and you’ll show them that being vegan doesn’t mean you’ll turn into an emaciated little shrew.

…Grandparents

I’d really advise not telling people that you don’t think will understand.

OR v v bravely get your mum to tell them.

And when they inevitably ask why you’re vegan tell them that it’s because you love and respect yourself, the animals, and the environment. If (and they probs won’t) they say that you can do that too and eat meat, ask them how.

And then sneak off to the loo where you can google rebuttals to all the claims they made.

But gently.

Be nice to old people.

I’ve touched on this in a previous post, but people who were children during WWII were fed a lot of cow’s milk because it was one of the few sources of protein and calcium.

The reason they believe it’s some kind of magical elixir is that it was. 

It saved thousands of lives. Emphasis on the WAS. We have alternatives now that are cheaper, more nutritious, and cruelty-free.

…Your friends/significant other

Tell them EVERYTHING. In all the gory details. These people are your chosen tribe – you probably have similar values. Cook them delicious vegan food.  Make them watch Cowspiracy. Buy them oat milk and Naturli butter. SHOW THEM THE WAY.

…Work colleagues

I’m lucky in that all my work colleagues are very respectful of my ethical stance. I’m not the only vegan, and there are a fair few veggies too. But I have friends that have colleagues that constantly bring up their veganism and are very derogatory about it. 

There are a couple of approaches to try, depending on how argumentive you want to be. The first being similar to the grandparents one – say that you love animals and the environment too much not to be vegan.

If you’re for a debate, answer their ‘why vegan?’ question with your own ‘why are you not vegan? question. Generally, the answer given is that they love the taste. If that’s the case simply say ‘so did I’ and leave it at that. If they give some other shitty response (nature, palm oil’s worse, the food chain, lions tho, health) take ’em down.

….In a nutshell

The whole ‘why vegan?’ question is a massive one. Everyone has their reasons (although technically vegans are vegan for the animals – everyone else is plant-based, but we’re inclusive here).

The hardest thing is being able to remember.

It becomes such an intrinsic part of your life that when someone asks you why you’re vegan you don’t know what to say, never mind how to tailor it to impact the person who asked.

I might start carrying around a cheat sheet of all the facts about veganism. Hmm, if I make it in Google Keep I can cite my sources.

Also, be aware of people’s tendency to link us all in together.

I’m not to blame for the vegan protestors trespassing onto the pig farm (do I see there point? Yep).

I didn’t eat all the avocados and almonds and bleed the Americas dry.

I’m not raising malnourished children.

If someone asks you why you’re vegan, you may find yourself having to defend a total stranger who lives half the world away.

You only have to explain why YOU’RE vegan (and tbh, you don’t HAVE to explain that). If you find yourself being attacked for things done by other vegans, you can gently explain that that’s like asking all meat eaters why they eat dog meat.

TL;DR

If people are curious, give them information: nutritional, reports on the link between climate change and eating meat, slaughterhouse footage.

If people are antagonistic, understand that you’re unlikely to change their mind in one conversation, and that’s it’s their problem, not yours.

Ultimately, when the human race’s ability to survive on this planet looks dramatically less viable eating meat will probably be massively restricted, and look at us, already all prepared.

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