Vegan Bingo – Common questions/comments that vegans get bombarded with, which, if you so desire, you can set out on a card and mark off every time it happens…
Where do you get your protein from?
Ok, let me answer a question with a question. Have you ever known anyone who’s had a protein deficiency? No? Not surprising. It is incredibly rare for anyone in the western world (vegetarians and vegans included) to lack protein in their diet. An excess of protein is far more common, and that is not good for us at all. If you have too much protein in your diet, as many people in our society do, side effects can be anything from weight gain and nutritional defects to a whole range of other health problems, including a link with heart disease, strokes and cancer. So although too much protein can be damaging, you do need it in sensible amounts to thrive…which brings me back to the original question. (Here’s a fun card that PETA have produced to answer this common enquiry.) Vegans get their protein from pulses, whole grains, seeds, nuts and soya, which means you’re only ever a peanut butter sandwich away from getting enough protein. Easy.
Vegan food tastes boring, doesn’t it?
Any food can be boring if you don’t add imagination. Boiled beef is boring, fishcakes are boring, scrambled egg is boring and none of those are vegan. It’s a complete myth that you have to cut out the exciting foods when you’re vegan. When I think of all the wonderful herbs and spices that I discovered when changing my diet, the different methods for cooking, the innovative combinations and new fruits and vegetables that I’d never tried before, it makes me laugh that a vegan diet can be seen as boring. Just because some restaurants can’t think of imaginative vegan dishes to make it doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I urge you to think of all the possibilities, not just of spaghetti hoops on toast, which, um, is quite boring.
Don’t plants feel pain too?
Plants have no brain, no central nervous system or pain receptors, whereas animals, including us, do. We feel pain, fear, joy, excitement and calmness, just like pigs, chickens, cows and sheep do. It’s true that when you prune plants there is an energy emitted, but the same could be said of clipping your toenails. And that’s hardly torture, is it?
Our ancestors ate meat, so surely it’s natural.
Not all of them did, actually. The ones who ended up eating meat were the ones who stupidly gravitated towards cold climates like Britain where nutritious plants are a bit thin on the ground during winter. Now that plant based food is available all year round, we shouldn’t really worry about what some of our ancestors were forced to do. They probably married their sisters and wore furry jockstraps too, so I don’t think we should be in a hurry to follow their example in everything.
As long as you buy free range meat and eggs, that’s ok isn’t it?
Um, no, not really. If you don’t believe me that free range/organic farms are not the idylls they’re cracked up to be, then I can show you some horrible videos that prove me right. They show overcrowded huge hen barns, where chickens are forced to live among the urine, excrement and dead bodies of their barn mates; they show the long drawn out slaughter of terrified pigs and the fear beyond endurance suffered by cows cooped up in prison-like pens where they can’t turn around. Do you really want to see all that? Ok, here’s a taster but I must warn you, it’s horrific.
We’d be overrun with cows and sheep if we didn’t kill them, wouldn’t we?
The amount of farm animals in the world is a direct result of intensive breeding engineered by humans. Nature couldn’t do a worse job than us of screwing up the eco system. If everyone in the world turned vegan, we would simply stop breeding farmed animals, so you can stop having those stampede nightmares.
I’m only one man Marge…
The more individuals that take up the vegan challenge, the more normal it will seem to the population at large, the more popular it’ll become. It’s amazing what one person can achieve. Try it.
Eating a vegan diet is too expensive.
Have a look at your supermarket receipt. Apart from luxuries like chocolate and crisps, I bet that meat and cheese are the most expensive items on there. It’s not surprising really, considering all the costs of feeding the animals, housing them, transporting them, slaughtering them and distributing the final shrink-wrapped product. I’m not going to say that all fruit and veg is cheap, but some are, and pasta, rice and lentils are incredibly inexpensive. Plan well and there’s absolutely no reason for you to be out of pocket.
It’s stupid to worry more about animals than humans.
Who said vegans worried more about non-human animals than they do about their own species? We should be kind to all animals, humans included. It is only the innate feeling of superiority humans tend to have that leads to this accusation in the first place. Humans have the capacity to care for other animals and I feel we are duty bound to do so, but we must also take care of our fellow man. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Won’t cows explode if we don’t milk them?
Of course not! Do you think that before humans got involved, the countryside was awash with exploding bovines? I’ll let you into a secret – it wasn’t. In order to produce milk, a cow, just like any other mammal, must first become pregnant. Once the mummy cow gives birth, the milk she produces goes to her…wait for it…calf! Yes children, to produce more milk, the farmer has to make the cow pregnant over and over again and her calves are taken away from her to face an uncertain fate and the humans steal her milk and…well it’s all a bit depressing really.
We have canine teeth, ha, the clue is in the name!
Have you ever looked at your dog’s canine teeth. They’re a bit more impressive than ours, aren’t they? Ours are flattened and dull and not pointy in the least. There’s a reason for that. Dogs in the wild have long, sharp canine teeth for ripping flesh apart and strong claws for bringing down prey. Look at your fingernails. Unless you’ve just had the mother of all manicures, they probably strike you as rather pathetic and certainly no good for piercing anything stronger than thin cardboard. The name canine teeth is just that, a name.
Vegans are always weak and ill..
Great swathes of people on the standard western diet are weak and ill. If you don’t get enough vegetables and you have too much fat, sugar and salt in your diet, then you’ll make yourself very sick. That is a far bigger concern than vegans being weak. As I’ve said elsewhere on this website, loads of elite athletes are vegan and many attribute their success to a healthy vegan diet, but the key word here is healthy. Chips and fizzy drinks are vegan and if that’s all you ever consumed then yes, you’d be in bad shape, but if you ate nothing but burgers till you got the meat sweats it’d be the same. A healthy vegan diet will make you fit and strong.
Animals are killed in the production of crops, so why bother?
Although it’s true that there must be some casualties of crops (see Robert Burns’ poem ‘To a Mouse’) it’s certainly better than having to grow crops to feed farm animals as well as humans. If crops were used to feed humans only, destruction of small animals (and indeed the planet in general) would be much reduced. It is impossible to eliminate harm, but harm reduction to the max is what to aim for.
I’ve heard soya is unsafe.
Many people choose to avoid soya, mainly as it is one of the common allergens, like wheat. However, if you don’t have an allergy or intolerance, science seems to suggest that soya is perfectly fine. Viva! have a great wee fact sheet on that very subject. Also, if you’ve heard that soya takes a lot of water to grow it, it does, but please bear in mind that 90% of the world’s soya goes to feed farm animals.
Leather’s just a by-product, so it doesn’t matter if I buy it.
Leather production is an environmentally damaging, cruelly produced product and there’s really no excuse for buying it. The leather industry drives the slaughter of innocent animals and sometimes calves are forcibly aborted from their mother’s wombs to produce soft leather. A disturbing recent development after investigations in China and some other parts of Asia is that leather is being supplied by skinning stray dogs alive. Nice.
I’ve eaten meat all my life and there’s nothing wrong with me.
If someone smoked all of their lives and had nothing particularly wrong with them (like my grandfather did), do you think it would be an ad for smoking? Certainly not. Some lucky souls have an amazingly strong constitution and good for them. My grandfather lived into his eighties, but just imagine if he’d never smoked maybe he’d have lived till he was a hundred.
Eating in restaurants would be too hard.
I’ll admit that restaurants have been a bit of a challenge some of the time for me. Things are getting better though. When you consider that even places like Nandos have vegan options or dishes that can be made vegan, you have to be positive. More and more people are reducing their meat and dairy intake for all sorts of reasons, so eateries will have to keep up with this growing trend or they’ll be left behind. I always make a point of asking for vegan choices in the restaurants I go to because where there’s demand, eventually there’ll be supply.
Eating all plants can’t be good for you because you don’t get B12.
Vitamin B12 doesn’t actually come from animals themselves, but from what they consume, i.e. the microbes in unwashed produce and non-purified water. Back in the day, we used to consume these things too, but we discovered that all the bugs and stuff that comes along with the B12 can upset our sensitive digestive systems, so we decided that washing vegetables was a good option for hygiene. That is why these days we can get the best of both worlds: clean veg with no bugs and vitamin B12 from supplements or fortified foods like plant milk, cereals or yeast extract like marmite.
Animals were put on earth for us to eat.
I’m not a religious person, so obviously I’d say this was poppycock, but there are certainly Christian groups that embrace veganism because they feel it is our duty to care for animals, as part of God’s creation. Other religions too have their veggie elements, but really, I’m not the best person to comment on this.
It can’t be true that agriculture contributes to global warming, can it?
Oh yes it can. Global industrialised agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gasses, more water pollution and more deforestation than plane travel, car travel or big old companies leaving the lights on all night. For more details, see Cowspiracy.
Do you have to get your nose pierced/wear tie dyed clothes/do yoga?
Absolutely not. I mean, you can if you want to obviously, but it’s not compulsory. Although the hippy lifestyle is quite the vegan cliché, you’ll find that vegans are a pretty varied bunch these days. I do recommend yoga though – calms you right down.