Things not to say to a vegan

Veganism seems to invite comments left, right and centre. Tired of people judging your lifestyle? Jack Monroe is here to set the naysayers straight.

Jack Monroe in the BBC Good Food Test Kitchen

Telling somone your dietary needs often opens the door to a deluge of questions and comments. Whether you're veggie or vegan, people want to know all the ins and outs of what goes on your plate and why. Chef Jack Monroe tells us her best responses and retorts to the classic vegan lifestyle queries and criticisms.

If you're looking for vibrant vegan meal ideas, see our ultimate vegan recipe collection

For more on vegan diets, we've collaborated with BBC Future – read more below:

The health benefits of going vegan – BBC Future
Why vegan junk food might be even worse for your health – BBC Future
How a vegan diet could affect your intelligence – BBC Future
The hidden biases that drive anti-vegan hatred – BBC Future
The mystery of why there are more women vegans – BBC Future
Why the vegan diet is not always green – BBC Future
Which milk alternative should we be drinking? – BBC Future


“Veganism is expensive.”

Fruit and veg market with people buying produce
It can be, if you want to buy all of the expensive ‘fake meat’ and cheeses on the market, but none of them really hit the spot for me, and they are quite pricey. Instead, build your diet around vegetables and pulses, two of the cheapest food groups in any supermarket. Frozen and tinned veg count, too. 

“Where do you get your protein?”

Nuts, vegetables, pulses and beans on table
The same places that cows and silverback gorillas get theirs; vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, pulses, and lentils. You only have to look up ‘vegan bodybuilders’ to see that a vegan diet can contain enough protein to sculpt phenomenally strong bodies, but for the slightly lazier herbivore, be assured we do alright on the protein front as we eat our nuts, pulses and vegetables.

“Where do you get your B12?”

Fish, eggs and meat on table
It never fails to astound me that once you confess to the v-word, every man and their internet connection is suddenly a nutritionist. Most vegans take a multivitamin supplement, but then again, so do a lot of non-vegans. There are also fortified foods like plant milks and spreads, breakfast cereals and Marmite.

“You look thin, you need a steak”.

Nobody needs a steak. It’s not there on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and commenting on other people's figures is just rude.
 

“You’re too fat to be a real vegan”.

Pizza Margherita on wooden serving platter
Again, other people's bodies are not your business to comment on, plus, my vegan diet includes chip butties, pie, Nutella, Biscoff spread, copious amounts of homemade bread dunked in oil and vinegar, cake, croissants and pasta, besides the usual greens and beans and sense of wellbeing. Veganism is not a fad diet – it’s a conscious choice not to use animal products.

“But BACON...”

The main flavours in bacon are fat and salt and a little smoke. It can be pretty simply replicated with any thinly sliced vegetable marinated in paprika, salt, fat, and cooked on a high heat until the edges char. It may take a little experimentation to get it right, but it’s worth it – and means a hangover cure is always at hand in the vegetable drawer.

Check out more vegan foodie content...

What would the world look like if everyone went vegan? 
5 vegan ingredients you've never heard of
The best vegan chocolate: taste tested

If you're vegan, what do people say that annoys you? Leave a comment below...

Comments, questions and tips

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Foxx Mulder's picture
Foxx Mulder
4th May, 2020
I agree we are all hypocrites but I disagree vegans are the biggest ones. How does breeding, mistreating and then killing billions of farm animals compare with supposedly "killing rabbits to keep them away from carrots"? How is using 75% of the farmland to sustain those animals good for the environment when only a fraction of that could feed humans directly? Deforestation, pollution, greenhouse gas emmision, water supply depletion are direct consequences of the meat industry. If you are against plant cultivation because we "need to kill rabbits", THINK, what do farm animals eat and where does their food come from? The biggest form of hypocricy is people trying to justify their destructive habits with false-truths because they just like the taste of the beef burger. By the way.. The answer "vegans get their protein from the same source silverback gorillas or cows get it from" is a scientifically correct and sound answer. Protein can easily be sourced from a balanced plant diet, it is a myth that we need meat for protein. It is also scientifically proven that overconsumption of meat is the cause of a variety of disease and cancers. So get your facts straight.
spider-mario
20th Feb, 2020
“Where do you get your EPA/DHA omega-3?” is a question that I am legitimately interested in. Do that many people buy DHA algae?
realityhurts
13th Feb, 2020
What not to say to a vegan? "You are as much, if not more, of a hypocrite than the rest of us. Stop thinking you are holier than thou." Why? Because there's no answer to that. Whatever reason for being vegan - "I dont want to hurt/kill anything" or "I'm saving the planet", it's plain hypocrisy. Today's article ... www.bbc.com/future/article/20200211-why-the-vegan-diet-is-not-always-green ...deals with latter reason. And some species is hurt or killed for just about every single meal a human takes. Do vegans really think that no rabbits are killed to protect the carrots that they are eating? The truth is painful sorry but the hypocrisy just annoys the rest of us.
bwanadik
29th Feb, 2020
It's not so much that vegans and vegetarians are hypocrites, (we all are), as it is about their ignorance of biology and how ecosystems work. And wishful thinking, as in "if I eat a vegan/vegetarian diet, I will have less impact on the earth, (and never mind the extraordinary lengths one must go to in order to meet basic nutritional requirements.) It is, of course, extremely important to avoid industrial meats (and everything that mode of substance implies). But it is also a completely fallacious argument to suppose that this means eating no animal products at all. And by the way, cows have completely different digestive systems than humans, and gorillas are adapted to eating a completely different diet than humans. A little biology and/or paleoanthropology would go a long way toward educating vegetarians and vegans to be better at satisfying our nutritional needs. And to avoid specious arguments that only reveal an author's ignorance.
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