"Oh, I'm a vegetarian."
Top responses to a blatant statement of plant-based declaration.
It is a well-known fact that the vegan diet is one that raises various opinions, many of derogatory nature, whether intended to be or not. After not having eaten meat for over 7 months now, and having decided to progressively remove it from my diet about 4 months previous to that, I have heard many, many comments about the switch to plant-based consumption. Most of which make me laugh a little. Here are the some of the responses I have received after saying "I'm a vegetarian"...
1. "But you eat fish, right? You don't even eat fish?"
I am listing this as number one, because, well, I think it is kind of an interesting response, and one that provokes a little humor and some thought. It's humorous, because you kind of have to smile and shake your head and say "No, not even fish."
It's also a little sad. Seafood is often disregarded, as it is harder to see expression in fish and sea animals (hence the term "pescatarian" which refers to people who do not eat meat except for fish), so many people are quick to say "Save the turtles" but they do not think about the amount of sea animals that are sacrificed every day for our love of salmon.
2. "So, what do you eat?"
This was a comment I found a little hilarious to be honest. The question was posed by a man who was raised as a farmer and still carried the life of one. His dream was to live minimally and provide his own food, and was very critical of the vegan diet. A friend of mine told him I was vegan (even though, ironically, at the time I was still eating chicken, and other animal products besides actual meat), and he responded with "Really? What do you eat?"
It kind of struck me as odd. I thought he as a farmer would know that there is much more to eat than animal products, and that many people thrive off of the plant diet. I felt the need to bring up all of the different foods that we already eat that do not include animal products, however I was still very self-conscious of my decision at the time, and did not want to spur an argument, especially with someone older than me. However, now being much more confident as a vegetarian, I find the comment very laughable. There is much more to food than meat!!
3. "There are actually humane ways to kill animals without hurting them."
This hits a little different. I have heard it from multiple different people. I find this one a little disturbing and always makes me cringe a little. Everyone I have informed about my diet change has immediately assumed it was about animal welfare. Yes, I understand that animals are not all thrown into scathing baths still conscious. However, that is not the main idea.
I won't get into all the different reasons to switch to a plant-based diet now. I would like to keep this short and sweet - but keep up on my profile if you would like to know. Animal welfare is the more common assumptive reason for vegetarianism, due to the many graphic ways you can imagine an animal being slaughtered. However, people turn to veganism often to avoid supporting factory farms, worker exploitation, land exploitation, deforestation, climate change, forest fires, diseases associated with eating meat and dairy, and lies fueled by corporate greed.
So, yes, I understand that in some points of view, there are ways to kill animals that may not cause them as much pain. But it is also ironic to add "humane" in the same sentence as "kill."
4. "But I saw you eat cheese last week."
This is actually one that frustrates me a bit, but causes me to just laugh. I have received comments like these on several occasions, and there are a few reasons as to why I find it humorous.
For one, I'm a vegetarian, so I still eat cheese, however many apathetic people cannot differentiate between the terms vegan and vegetarian, so I just respond with a shake of my head and say "I just don't eat meat."
Secondly, people often forget that there was a time before you became vegetarian or vegan. Even if the newly vegan/vegetarian ate an animal-based something at some point, it does not invalidate their decision to avoid those products now.
5. "Why would you want to do that?"
I saved this one for last, as it is the most harsh comment I have received besides being called crazy. This comment has been said by people (often men in my family) who take pleasure in eating and preparing meat.
It's the hardest to get around, because you know that the person who asked the question finds animals to be solely put on the earth for human consumption, and that they do not find an issue with consuming animal products (or have never even considered it), even though those issues are currently rising and becoming widely known by the newer generations.
It is difficult to explain the reason to the middle-aged men that ask this question, especially without raising your voice. Often my answer is "It's just a personal decision" to not raise any further questions and try to stop the conversation there. In my experience, an attempt to end the conversation doesn't really work. However, that is only because the person who asked the question feels threatened by your decision and the vegan community in general and will continue to push.
People will always have something negative to say, as the vegan community is threatening to a large portion of the population, even if they deny it. Just remember as a new addition, your choice is your choice! And you do not need to explain it to other people no matter where their opinions lie, or who they are.