Honest Answers to the Two Most Annoying Questions about Being Vegan. ~ Denise Cartwright

Via on Nov 25, 2011

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur, We Animals

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur, We Animals

I love talking about health and sustainability. I also love helping people make the transition to a healthy, vegan diet. I wouldn’t work at a raw, vegan restaurant if I didn’t. However—I typically do not like answering the following questions:

Question #1:

Why did you choose to become vegan?

Answer:

Why do you choose to eat dead animal flesh?

dboy

This is a totally reasonable question. The problems, though, are context and genuine desire for a truthful answer. Do you really want me to answer this question? Do you honestly want me to get into animal slaughter and injustice? Right now, at dinner? On a first date? I can go into all of the moral/ethical implications. I’ll touch on great health benefits and positive environmental impact. I can tell you that cutting animal products completely out of your diet will reduce your carbon footprint by two tons. But chances are, you don’t really want to hear about it. You will listen for about a minute and then you will say, “That sounds cool and all, but I really love cheese.” And I’ll roll my eyes and say, “Yeah, who doesn’t?”

Question#2:

Where do you get your protein?

Answer:

Where do you get your fruits and vegetables?

I can go on and on about the unnecessary obsession Americans have with protein. I can talk about the complete lack of anything good for you in the SAD (Standard American Diet). I can tell you that I eat minimal amounts of “fake meat” (processed soy), and still get adequate protein (I get my levels checked, I’ve never had a problem with it). But let’s be honest. You really don’t care about my protein levels. I know you don’t. I will tell you where I get my protein but you will not be listening. You will be envisioning the juicy hamburger you had for lunch today and feeling grateful that you are not a vegan.

digiyesica

I hope this helps you look like less of a jack ass next time you meet an attractive vegan in the Whole Foods check out line. Instead of “Where do you get your protein,” try, “I see that you are purchasing hemp seeds. Hemp seeds are so great. What an excellent source of protein and omegas. Maybe we should hang out sometime and eat some hemp seeds together.” I’m almost positive it will get you a date.

With all this being said—if you really want to learn about veganism, lets talk! Ask your questions. If I can’t answer them, I can at least guide you to a more informative source. And as far as other people eating meat goes, I’m not one to judge. As strongly as I believe that a plant based diet is the most sustainable diet, I honestly don’t really care about what you ate for breakfast this morning.

Be conscious about what you eat. That’s all I ask.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Denise Cartwright is an explorer of life. She is 22 years old. Her interests are many and her limitations are none. She is passionate about sustainability, social justice, equality, and finding joy. She loves making connections and bridging the gaps between religion, science, and spirituality. She believes that nothing is impossible and is always looking for an adventure. She lives in Salt Lake City with her cat, Prudence.

About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive—and get your name/business/fave non-profit on every page of elephantjournal.com. Questions? info elephantjournal com

5,078 views

Appreciate this article? Support indie media!

(We use super-secure PayPal - but don't worry - you don't need an account with PayPal.)

39 Responses to “Honest Answers to the Two Most Annoying Questions about Being Vegan. ~ Denise Cartwright”

  1. Erik LaRouge says:

    This is very adversarial, it creates a position that could be seen as your vegan lifestyle was something that you decided on for the purpose of shocking those around you.
    Embrace your choice and share any challenges you may have had with others, but attempting to turn things around and answering questions with questions just ends up turning people off.
    If they see you as a vegan and you are always upset, do you think they would want to follow your lead?

    You find happiness with your decision, so focus on that aspect.

    • littlewing108 says:

      well shock is a kind of art… they dun taught me in school…. so…. i dunno, i am a carni, and agree that conscious eating is necessary… just think about the animals you eat if you eat them!! and about where your veggies came from and who picked them and so on if you don't.

  2. Bini says:

    Where do I find recipes with hemp seed?

  3. Louise Brooks says:

    "But chances are, you don’t really want to hear about it. You will listen for about a minute and then you will say, “That sounds cool and all, but I really love cheese.”" and "But let’s be honest. You really don’t care about my protein levels. I know you don’t. I will tell you where I get my protein but you will not be listening. You will be envisioning the juicy hamburger you had for lunch today and feeling grateful that you are not a vegan".

    With comments like those above, I have my doubts that you don't really care what I had for breakfast. You sound like you are holding a lot of anger towards omnivores.

  4. Denise Cartwright says:

    I really appreciate the feedback! Truth is, I write with a lot I sarcasm. This post was not intended to sound like omnivore bashing, just trying to shed light on these funny experiences so many vegans encounter regularly. I can see my humor is being interpreted as insensitive and I will consider that now in my writing! This is my first post, and I appreciate the feedback a lot. Just know I am coming from a place of humor, don’t take me too seriously :) thanks guys!

    • I love it! Great first post & I hope to read lots more! I actually laughed out loud and will probably use these responses…still somewhere between vegetarian & vegan but love a snappy answer when people ask dumb questions!

      My other favorite obnoxious answer to "Where do you get your protein?" – "I swallow."

      Shared your post on the ele main FB page.

      • Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

        Ah Kate, I love you more and more the more I read.

      • Denise Cartwright says:

        Kate you are the best!! Thanks For your Support and for posting on FB. I was terrified to make my first post and you really had my back. I just wish my answer to “where do you get your protein” was half as good as yours!! Ha! Thanks again.

    • Erik LaRouge says:

      Denise,
      Glad to hear that is the case.
      Congrats on your first article, we all learn from the little things and it is good to know that a soapbox approach was not your intention.

  5. Anna Sheinman SOFLY_Anna says:

    Well done!

  6. Bob says:

    Um, answering a question with a question is not very honest.

  7. Andrea Balt Andréa Balt says:

    I would add a third question, usually asked in Southern Europe (according to the Vegan World Archives):

    "But… you do eat fish, right?" To which the least sarcastic answer is a mild "Seriously?"

    The problem is that they are serious. And sometimes they are also that sweet and clever side of your family whom just don't know how to explain -without the use of sarcasm- that fish has eyes.

    PS: Love omnis & animals.

    • Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

      There's another one:
      In some restaurants where I live (Slovenia) when you ask what they serve vegetarians, they offer you a plate of vegetables. Literally. It's getting better now, but 5 years ago when i first got here it was like that.

      • Andrea Balt Andréa Balt says:

        Hahahah, true. And depending on the gastronomy, they are either unchewable and tasteless or mushy and soaked in oil. I remember going to a wedding in Spain about 5 years ago and they were proud to also accommodate vegetarians – the veggie option consisted in three courses of… iceberg salad!!! The only ingredient that changed was the type of dressing and the arrangement on the plate, and maybe a forbidden mushroom here and there. For dessert, there was fruit with sweet dressing. #HungryEuropeanVeganSociety. :)

  8. Jessica says:

    I've been interested in being vegan recently.. But sometimes I feel like people who are vegan get kind of snobby and judge other people's food choices.. Just like how you said "Why do you choose to eat dead animal flesh?" That sounds kind of judgmental. Most people aren't educated about how vegans get their protein and stuff like that, so if they ask seemingly dumb questions, they probably just really don't know anything about veganism but would like to learn.. I know you said you are just trying to be funny, but maybe try sound like you're trying to help people learn and not like your bashing meat-eaters. I think it casts a negative light on vegans when people respond to questions that way. Just saying.. :) This was an informative article though.. I liked it!

    • Denise Cartwright says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Jessica! I totally see your point of view on this, people just aren't educated on the matter! The intent of my article was to educate those people in a humorous way, not to bash on them! I'm sorry if it came across as over the top to you, and I really appreciate your comment. Thanks!! :)

      • lindsaymcclure says:

        I completely see where Jessica is coming from when posting this, but I think the purpose of the article was about how you are fed up with everyone constantly asking why you are vegan. I get asked this all the time and sometimes it is only human to respond in judgement. When I became a veg I was so excited to explain to people why I choose to eat the way I do. Soon after, it often seemed like the people asking me didn't really care and this became apparent as I was continually being cut off with a, "oh okay cool," or a condescending, "good for you." I think this is a great article that is spoken from a place humans can all relate to, veg or not. No one likes to be berated and this is a great sarcastic article! :]

  9. Zoe says:

    “But chances are, you don’t really want to hear about it. You will listen for about a minute and then you will say, “That sounds cool and all, but I really love cheese.”” and “But let’s be honest. You really don’t care about my protein levels. I know you don’t. I will tell you where I get my protein but you will not be listening. You will be envisioning the juicy hamburger you had for lunch today and feeling grateful that you are not a vegan”.

    Although one of the former commenters took issue with these two lines, I actually find this to be exactly true.

    I have been vegetarian for nearly a decade and vegan on and off throughout, always adjusting my diet to fit the shifting needs of my body. Early in my life it dawned on me that if I could have a healthy diet that didn’t include flesh, that I would raise my consciousness and do my part in our global evolution. You would be correct in detecting a smidgen of elitism in my words.

    There is an awakening that comes with becoming a vegetarian. There is a realization that we need to evolve ourselves in order to save the planet that we call home. The consumption of mass-produced meat produces an inordinate amount of heat-trapping carbon gas. (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-greenhouse-hamburger)

    It is obvious at this point that humans around the world are thriving without the consumption of meat. Are you ready to answer the call of vegetarianism? Namaste.

    • June says:

      Ah, but where are the long-term vegan societies? Please know that there are alternatives to "mass-produced meat" and that many of us make that choice for our diets. As someone above mentioned, there is no one perfect diet for all (IIN anyone?), or even for one person over their entire lifetime. Many vegetarians make a change in their diet after a period of time for health reasons. Don't be surprised if any of you fall into this category someday.

  10. carjo says:

    I get my protein from "Naughty Bits" algae tabs!

  11. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    Great first post Denise. Welcome to EJ, and I know from your writing that you won't have a problem sifting through the negative comments!

  12. __MikeG__ says:

    Love this post . Every word you wrote is 100% accurate. Most people who ask don't really care about the answers because those answers challenge their world views.

  13. Jason Todd says:

    I always ask the first question of all vegetarians and vegans that I meet. Why? Because I am genuinely interested in the answers (and they are often varied). I ask similar questions of everyone who has elected to diverge from the status quo. It demonstrates that they have made a commitment to change something about themselves, and go against the herd. This makes them interesting and if they answered the question honestly, it often makes for good conversation. Were you to answer in the method that you suggest, I'd probably assert that you were either insecure about your decisions, or an elitist jerk, which would tell me all I need to know right off the bat.

    I'll give you the benefit of the doubt on this one. Good insights though.

    • Denise Cartwright says:

      Thanks for the response. I’m not actually a sarcastic bitch when people ask me these questions, nor am I promoting such an attitude. Purely shedding light on that frustration we sometimes get when encountering these situations, and trying to add a bit of humor to it. I would never intentionally make someone feel stupid. I tried to clarify that at the end. Thanks for the perspective!

    • __MikeG__ says:

      Jason. It's great that you are genuinely interested and respectful. If only the biggest problem with being vegan was finding a good restaurant for dinner. Being vegan also means having to deal with hateful and narrow minded people. Here's hoping I run into more people like you.

  14. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Denise, from my ancient perspective, this is a nice article – for a 22-year old. I’m kinda on the other side, though, the negative side. This probably seemed humorous to you when you wrote it and it’s obviously humorous to some here. But I’d guess that only counts for people in the choir (as in, preaching to the choir). Sarcasm doesn’t work nearly so well when you are not surrounded by choir members. That was pointed out to you and you took the criticism remarkably well for a 22-year old (sorry ‘bout the age condescending, but age does matter, or at least it’s nice to think it does when you’re 61.)

    A big danger when you go yoga or Buddhist or veggie is becoming teachy-preachy. You look to me like you’re well on your way to transcending that. We all really need to remember that people on the “other side” (whatever side that happens to be from your perspective) know a whole bunch of things that people on “our side” don’t know.

    Humility's one of the missing ingredients, seems to me, in Eastern thinking among Westerners. Denise gets it, I think. Though I'd lose that horrid picture when you write articles for non-choir members.

    • Denise Cartwright says:

      Thanks for the response. I’m not actually a sarcastic bitch when people ask me these questions, nor am I promoting such an attitude. Purely shedding light on that frustration we sometimes get when encountering these situations, and trying to add a bit of humor to it. I would never intentionally make someone feel stupid. I tried to clarify that at the end. Thanks for the perspective!

    • __MikeG__ says:

      Mark: I'm 44 and I think your comments are themselves condescending and "teachy-preachy". Here's hoping you learn some of the humility you like to write about. Your constant harping on "22 years old" and "non-choir member" comments are a weird combination of ad hominem attack and straw man argument.

      • Mark Ledbetter says:

        You got me, Mike! I was born teachy-preachy. Humility is not something I'm likely to learn this lifetime. But I still admire it.

        • __MikeG__ says:

          Mark: Yeah, me too on all counts. If our ages were not different I would swear we were separated at birth. I also admire people who have driven a car in the US and have never succumbed to road rage. I haven't been able to master that either.

  15. Denise Cartwright says:

    Maybe I should have named the post “Things I want to say when people ask me these questions with out wanting to know the answer, but would never actually say-a humorous essay about veganism.” I’ve said it a couple times, I don’t think I am better than anyone else because of the way I eat. A lot of people seem to relate to this and that’s the point. It is hard to talk about veganism with out people automatically assuming you are preachy. I guess I’m making fun of that in a way. I am not insecure about being vegan, nor am I trying to make anyone change their diet. Only fun, people :)

  16. latexsolarbeef says:

    Are we still talking about this ffs?

  17. Colleen says:

    Sigh. It's content like this that makes me both regret spending one of my three clicks on a bullshit "article", oh, sorry, rant, and simultaneously not want to spend a single dime on getting access.

  18. [...] Build on a current positive behavior. I’ve been gradually moving from vegetarian towards vegan. A good example of building on a current habit might be for me to move to eating dairy once a week [...]

  19. Denise Cartwright says:

    Not preaching raw food, just trying to make a point and make people laugh. Thanks for reading! :)

  20. Thanks so much for the encouragement!!!!!

  21. I can only speak for me, but I'm not offended by meat eaters at all! I do wish that people would make more mindful choices and avoid the factory-farmed stuff, but what people eat it their own business. It's hard enough to manage my own choice…let alone worry about what other people are doing!

Leave a Reply