Yesterday, at the lunch table at work, I politely said no to some cake a coworker had made because, like many cakes out there, it contained eggs. Another coworker's reaction was, "you're vegan? That's so impressive".
Of course that was lovely to hear (beats "noo, so what DO you eat?"). It started me thinking of all the questions we've all heard, vegan or vegetarian - I know there are several of you nodding as you read this. So I decided to make a little compilation of S**t (Some) Omnivores Say and how to reply to it. I say "some" omnivores because I don't want to blame all omnivores - most of them are lovely. All of my best friends are omnies and I love them and am grateful that they never say these things to me!
Where do you get your protein/iron?
I want to answer: I eat human flesh.
I once had this question asked by a girl who was having some ham and a piece of mozzarella cheese for lunch. I very much wanted to ask her where her fibres and vitamins were, but I felt that was none of my business so I kept my mouth shut. The key to this question is to learn what foods contain protein, iron and so on - but you probably already know that.
But what shoes aren't leather?
I want to answer: Cinderella's glass slippers.
A legitimate question as so many mainstream shoe brands are leather. Get rid of this question once and for all by always wearing fantastic footwear and when someone compliments you on your shoes, say "thank you, they're vegan!"
But ancient man ate meat.
I want to answer: Ancient man only lived until 30.
Ok, so ancient men hunted to survive. Which is exactly the same as driving to McDonald's, isn't it? Thing is, we don't live "as nature intended" and we haven't for a long time. Ancient man didn't have electricity, cars, Blackberries or Facebook either. Are you ready to give those up? Plus, I'm not against eating meat as much as I'm against the industry. Ancient men hunted animals in the wild, which is very different from keeping fifty chickens in a square-metre cage.
But plants have feelings too!
I want to answer: I know, that plant by the window was a real bitch to me earlier. I wonder if she's mad.
I particularly hate this one as it's so ridiculous (no they don't, for the record). But what I usually say is, after having explained that a) plants have no nervous system and b) by eating an apple I am not killing the tree, is this: if you care about plant life...go vegan! What about all the plants eaten by the cow you eat?
Oh, Hitler was a vegetarian.
I want to answer: yeah, it's a little-known fact he had a concentration camp made for plants (see above).
I don't think this is true, but I might be wrong.
I usually answer: oh, what about Stalin, Mussolini, Bin Laden, Gheddaffi and Saddam Hussein? All veggies?
I hate it when vegans shove their beliefs in my face.
I want to answer: um...what's your name again?
One thing that makes me angry is being treated on behalf of other vegans. I never, ever lecture omnivores on their food. And I refuse to pay for what some other vegan somewhere did to you once, thank you very much. If I were to judge you on what other omnivores have said and done to and about me through the years, you'd be off worse than that pig you just ate.
Come on, just pick the meat out of it!
I want to answer: I'm sorry, picking at food is against my religion.
...yeah, that sounds like a fun, enjoyable meal.
At the end of the day, if I inspire someone to go vegan, that's great. But that's not what I'm vegan for. I'm vegan for me, for the animals and for the planet. I don't care about "converting" you. If you're happy eating your steak, I'm happy for you. All I want is to be left to live my vegan life in peace, free from attacks, snide remarks and stupid questions that don't come from a place of curiosity but from a will to pick a fight. If you can't accept the fact that I'm vegan, maybe you should ask yourself why that is. Maybe my lifestyle makes you feel a bit guilty about not being more compassionate and environment-conscious? In that case, there are a million things you can do for the earth! But what we all can start with, vegans, vegetarians or omnivores, is being more respectful of one another. That should always come first.