When you are following the typical American lifestyle, no one really seems to care about what you do. Don’t get me wrong, your mom or dad or grandmother will probably bug you about not eating enough, and your siblings or cousins will probably tease you about eating too much, but other than that, most people couldn’t care less how much protein you get or how many vitamins you consume. However, if you decide to become vegan, strangers, friends, and family will suddenly start quizzing you about your live choices, and unfortunately, they will probably place you into a box marked “Vegan Stereotype.” This is usually because they are confused about what veganism really is and are legitimately concerned. At first, these repetitive questions can feel sort of like harassment! It can be super discouraging especially when it happens at every meal. After all, you just made a huge lifestyle change in order to better yourself and the environment, shouldn’t everyone be encouraging you? Also, because you aren’t used to this sort of attention over mundane things like eating a snack, in the beginning, you might (like me) have trouble coming up with a response to these strange accusations and questions. In fact, sometimes these questions will seem so obvious or crazy that you won’t even know where to start! But, never fear. Here are some of the questions and accusations you will hear, and some simple explanations to keep in mind.
“You don’t get any protein in your diet! This can’t be healthy.”
This is the most frustrating question/statement out of them all because it will probably be the one you get most often. Turns out, most people you’ll meat (ha!) don’t understand that protein comes from all different kinds of food, not just from animal flesh, dairy, and eggs. Don’t forget that you are eliminating a ton of unnecessary fat from your diet!
So, to answer this question, green vegetables (like kale, spinach, and broccoli), beans (like kidney, lentil, pinto, and black beans), grains (like pasta, bread, and brown rice), and nuts (like almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, cashews, walnuts, and pistachios) all are amazing sources of protein. Not to mention processed types of protein like tofu, tempe almond milk, and soy milk.
“Since you don’t eat meat, I bet you feel super tired and weak all the time.”
Actually, no! Since going vegan, I have had more energy than ever before. There is no need to worry because all those sources of protein I mentioned before are delicious and chalked-full of vitamins minerals and calories. If you eat a variety of fruit, vegetables, legumes, grains, seeds, and nuts, you will have plenty of energy, and your body will thank you.
“Plants feel pain too.”
What?! Wait.. no.. no they don’t. Plants don’t have central nervous systems. Let alone, brains or nerve endings! Plants literally do not have the capability of “feeling” pain like sentient beings do. Also, even if plants did feel pain (which they don’t!!), the meat industry kills more plants by feeding their animals then I could ever eat in my entire lifetime; therefore, even if this preposterous statement were true, I would still be causing less harm to plants and animals by simply eating plants.
“Cows produce milk constantly and have to be milked. If they don’t get milked, they feel a lot of pain.”
When do humans produce milk? When they give birth. When do cows produce milk? When they give birth. Surprise, surprise, cows do not randomly produce milk for no reason. But I too was actually completely unaware of this fact for a really long time. Let’s think this through. Cows need to be milked by humans in order to be pain-free? If this were true, all wild cows would be living in pain at all times! Thankfully, this a myth.
“Vegan food is so boring. You can only eat vegetables.”
Actually, the foods that I eat are far from boring. I eat a variety of vegetables along with fruits, grains, lentils, nuts, and everything in-between. Fried rice, burritos, pizza, spaghetti are just a few foods that I cook for myself daily. In case you didn’t know, spices are vegan! Vegan food can be as exciting as you make it; vegans just have to be creative. One great thing about being vegan is it forces you to be super conscious of what is in your food. Often times, this means making more dishes at home which leads to (1) eating healthier meals and (2) having more money because you aren’t spending it eating out. Plus, nearly every non-vegan food has a vegan alternative!