Here are some of the questions/statements you are likely encounter when you become vegan: from the sensible, to the just plain silly, and how you can respond.
Is there a question you often get asked that we haven’t covered? Or something you would like to know? We would love to hear from you and include it so we can help others that are asked the same thing. Do contact us.
Vegan Issues ~ where do we stand?
As well as the questions below which are what you might be asked, there are many issues and opinions around veganism, from the stance on abolition or laboratory meat to vaccinations and organic farming. We have outlined many of these issues in another section, along with our stance and approaches. Read more about our stance on vegan issues >>
Where do you get your protein?
Vegetables and fruit all contain good sources of protein. In fact there is more protein in 100 calories of broccoli than there is on 100 calories of steak! The first studies to determine how much protein humans should eat were based on rat studies. Rats need 1g/kg body weight. Humans it turns out, do not, they actually do much better on half that amount of protein for women, whilst men require around 60g, so we don’t need as much protein as most people believe anyway. Lentils and rice together provide a complete protein (1 billion Indians can’t be wrong!) Pulses, seeds, nuts, mushrooms, all plant foods in fact contain protein. The animals that people eat tend to eat plants themselves, so all our protein is from plants. You wouldn’t ask a gorilla or an elephant where they get their protein.
But you need cows milk to make your bones strong
The myth around cows milk being essential to prevent osteoporosis and to make your bones strong was created by the dairy industry to promote milk, but in fact calcium in dairy is not absorbed well into the body. Research has proven that dairy actually depletes calcium from our bones and therefore increases fracture risk. This is why countries with the highest rate of osteoporosis are also the countries where people consume the most milk. Dark, leafy vegetables are actually a far better source of calcium. Read more about the osteoporosis milk myth.
But plants have feelings too!
But plants have feelings too/are sentient beings. You could reply: How about, you watch a 30 minute video on what goes on in a slaughter house, and I will watch a 30 minute video on someone picking strawberries, then we can sit down and discuss what we have watched”. “I know plants feel pain. I’m vegan because I hate plants, not because I love animals.” Humour does wonders! Plants react to environmental conditions in various ways but that shouldn’t be confused with having sense perception, which implies consciousness. It takes more plants to feed animals to feed humans than it does to use plants to feed humans directly. The evolutionary function of pain is its potential to get one out of harms way. While immobile beings (e.g. plants) would indeed need to sense their environment and react to it, there is no reason to believe pain would serve any function in a stationery being. It therefore makes no evolutionary sense for plants to experience pain and there is absolutely no evidence that they do. In contrast, it makes evolutionary sense for mobile beings to experience pain in order to motivate immediate retreat from harm’s way and there is a wealth of evidence showing animals have the anatomy and function of pain. And finally how about it is in the plant’s best interests that they are eaten. Yes, they are capable of sensing stuff, but that doesn’t make them sentient. They do not feel emotions. They produce yummy tasting fruits so that we eat them and spread their seeds. Rice and wheat would not be planted in the quantities they are world wide if humans didn’t eat them, again the plants want us to eat them. Even their grains as it ensures that we will plant them.
But the New Zealand economy depends on dairy
Tourism has actually taken over dairy as the largest export in NZ, as this article shows. The dairy industry destroys the environment and the “clean green” image that New Zealand likes to portray, which is key to the tourism industry. Also a recent study shows that the cost of cleaning up the dairy industries environmental damage is close to 15 billion, which is similar to the export value, leaving a close to nil balance.
Where do you get B12?
B12 is the only vitamin that needs to be supplemented on a vegan diet, and this is done easily by consuming fortified foods (such as soy milk, soy yogurt, marmite, nutritional yeast), by taking supplements, or by a regular 3 month injection (visit your doctor for information). Recommended dose 50mcg a day or 2000 a week. The Vegan Society in the UK has an excellent page on B12.
But what if you were stranded on a deserted island, would you eat the animals or starve to death?
Hmm. If you were not alone, living on a planet with 7 billion people, had access to unlimited fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and other healthy foods, and knew animals suffer and die horrible deaths just so you could eat them when you don’t need to eat them to survive or be healthy, would you continue to eat them? The difference between the questions is that your scenario will never happen and mine is the choice you are facing right now. Which do you believe is worth answering?
It’s a personal choice though
If a “personal choice” directly affects the lives of other living beings, human or animal, then is it really a personal choice?
But soy bean production is destroying the rainforests
The majority of the worlds soy beans are used in farm animal feed, so the logical way to stop soy related deforestation is actually to stop consuming meat. This is very well explained by onegreenplanet.org.
You just think you’re superior
This is a very defensive argument that some people like to use and you should not let it get to you. You can say “No, I just believe that all sentient beings have an equal right to live” This will probably result in no. 2… and you can go from there.
But Hitler was a vegetarian
How is this relevant? So was Einstein, Gandhi, Aristotle, Leonardo da Vinci and a whole bunch of other very smart people. AND Hitler wasn’t vegetarian!
But we would be overrun with cows and sheep if we didn’t eat them!
Um, we have destroyed 40% of the world’s wildlife since the 70s to support over 70 billion animals for human consumption! I think you mean, we have overrun the world with cows and sheep so we can eat them! As it’s unlikely that the entire world would go vegan overnight, it is also unlikely that the cows and sheep will overrun us. We will end up slowly reducing the numbers of animals produced for slaughter over time and eventually end up with a more balanced domestic/wildlife scenario.
But God told us to eat animals
Actually no, he didn’t, he said on page 1 GEN 1:29 “Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.” “God” wanted a vegan world. It was King James who introduced the idea of eating meat into it. GEN 1:26 “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Dominion is not the same as eating. One could easily argue that God wanted us to look after them all. This we have done a very bad job of! And finally Ex 20:13 “thou shall not kill” this is very specific and doesn’t say “don’t kill humans”. It says don’t kill, not to interpret this to mean any living thing is disrespectful to God!
What about all those animals killed in the combine harvester? Vegans cause more deaths than meat eaters…
Again this is a very defensive argument and one that is swiftly “put to bed”: Most grain in this world is fed to animals raised for food. The US alone could feed 800 million people with the grain that livestock eat, a Cornell Ecologist advises animal scientists. Also the Amazon rainforest is being cut down at a horrendous rate to provide soy for beef cattle, not soy for vegans.
I could never be vegan, I like cheese too much
Well OK stop eating every animal product that isn’t cheese then. Once you start to explore the many non-dairy alternatives out there you might find that you can get over your cheese addiction. There are many vegan cheeses on the market these days and many great recipes for such. No, they don’t taste the same.. but over time your taste buds will adapt.
It’s my right to eat animals
Is it? How? Why? Who said? Do the animals not have any rights or say in the matter?
Well the animals are dead already so I may as well eat them!
Like the above statement it is a very defensive argument and completely nonsensical. We can go onto say that the animals are bred purely for you to eat them, so stop eating them and they will stop being bred for slaughter. Last year 400 million less animals were bred to be killed due to people decreasing their meat intake.