Answers To Questions Vegetarians/Vegans Always Get Asked

When I tell people that I am a vegetarian I always get asked lots of questions, which I like. It is enjoyable to talk about a cause that I am passionate about and answer people’s questions. Still, it seems like I get asked the same questions often, so here are my answers to common vegetarian/vegan questions.

  • Is it an animal rights thing?- Absolutely. Let’s face the facts, there really is not much reason to become a vegetarian or vegan beyond the ethical concerns of the meat industry. There are positive health effects, but it is not much better than any other diet. If you meet a vegetarian or vegan, you can be pretty much sure that they are concerned about animal rights, otherwise they would not be doing what they do.
  • Can you eat fish/shrimp/crab/lobster?- That is called a pescatarian, and is not a vegetarian or vegan. Fish and seafood are animals just as much as land animals are, and should be treated with the same respect. There is a common misconception that fish do not feel pain. But a study in 2013 shows that although the fish nervous system does not resemble the human one, they still feel pain and try to escape it. The only difference is that they can not distinguish between conscious and unconscious pain. Beyond that, fishing is wildly unsustainable and is causing huge environmental problems
  • What do you even eat?- Lots of things. The fact that this is a common question is a sad commentary on our world. that people cannot imagine going for multiple meals without meat or animal products. My fiancée and I love to cook together. She is a vegan and I am a vegetarian and we make tons of good food. Once you stop eating meat, you realize how unessential it is.
  • How do you get your protein?- From basically everything else. Lots of other food have protein in them. The advantage of meat is that it provides lots of protein in concentrated chunks. But, that does not mean that meat is the best form of protein on the block as I explained in this article for Listverse.
  • But aren’t we made to eat meat?- This argument comes up a lot with appeal to the fact that our prehistoric relatives ate meat. But, humans are not designed to be pure meat eaters. The length of our intestines and our teeth clearly show that at best we are meant to be omnivores. The fact is that back in ancient times they needed concentrated protein to survive, since food was scarce and hard to come by. But now with modern refrigeration and year round crops, that need has passed.
  • Does seeing meat eaten in front of you offend you?- Not really. Seeing a hamburger does not horribly offend me, but it does cause a bit of frustration. Do I think that everybody should stop eating meat? Absolutely. I firmly believe that everybody should watch documentaries showing where their meals come from and then have to decide if they still want to eat meat. Most people live in ignorance about the suffering that went in to making their meals. And that makes me sad. But just seeing a beef taco or something does not offend me.
  • Can you eat (non-animal product)?- I was asked once if I eat peanut butter. I appreciate the sentiment, because I will always understand somebody trying to be considerate to my diet. Here is a good guide. Vegetarians can eat anything that is not meat. So if it is not the dead flesh of animals then its fine. Vegans can eat anything that is not an animal product. So if it came from anything other than an animal they will eat it.
  • (For Mormons) Doesn’t the scriptures say to eat meat?- I get this one a lot up at BYU-Idaho. The truth is that the scriptures are really unclear about this topic, meaning that you can not really argue it any way. The Bible says that we should have dominion over the Earth, but that does not mean mass killing the species. In Daniel we read the story of Daniel refusing to eat the king’s meat and living on water and bread instead. But in Paul and early Doctrine and Covenants it tells us that we should not refrain from eating meat. Yet, if you read later into the D&C the Word of Wisdom clearly states that meat is only to be eaten if you are starving and cold. Like any topic in the scriptures, you can put your own spin on it, but the standard works do not fall one way or the other.
  • Would you eat meat from family farms?- This is a good question. Most people recognize that factory farms are bad (but they still eat meat from them). They comfort themselves by thinking that their meat comes from family farms where the animal does not suffer. I think that is better, but I still do not eat that meat. Ethically, it is still problematic. Even if a cow was raised on a nice family farm, it still does not want to die and still feels pain when it is dying. All animals are hardwired to stay alive, and the pain feedback mechanism tells them when their body is in danger. When a cow dies it still panics and it still feels pain, no matter how nice of a life it had before that.
  • Don’t you kill vegetables?- I get this snarky comment all the time. No, vegetables are not sentient, I am not killing them. The do not have a nervous system, they do not feel pain. Stop asking this question.

4 responses to “Answers To Questions Vegetarians/Vegans Always Get Asked

  1. Interesting article.
    As a meat eater and Latter-day Saint, my question is (your opinion), given the whole lamb lies down with the lion thing, considering our resurrected eternity, will be able to eat a great steak (meat) if we so choose?

      • The point would be that eating is one of the happiest pleasures of existence. First, stars and all that exist, everything expends energy = fuel. That would include God. So second, in no way do I contemplate an infinite existence that doesn’t include eating. Literature abounds with imagery of heaven being an exquisite all-you-can-eat. And for me, that would include roasts, steaks and cuts of many fine meats — dined on along side the Savior who enjoyed fish with a perfected appetite and pleasure that exceeds mine.

        But then I am in the school of thought that the earth, with all its plants and animals and resources, are here for us (man). You’ve given your opinion — including weighting what IMO is a weak argument that sentience is relevant justification to eat plants but not animals. The earth — plants, animals, minerals, water, air — is a living thing that has an eternal progression.

        But I respect your choice. Free agency. Includes what you like and don’t like to eat, for whatever reasons.

  2. I absolutely agree with many of your points.

    As a Mormon who encounters scriptural arguments for and against vegetarianism as well, I often refer to these verses from the Doctrine and Covenants, section 49:18-19

    18 And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God;

    19 For, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance.

    I interpret this to mean that we are free to choose to not eat meat, but we are not free to condemn those who do.

    I feel like you do a good job of promoting vegetarianism without vilifying those who eat meat.

    As for myself, I eat meat in moderation. I choose to do this mostly from an environmental perspective. When you look at the amount of food-derived energy per acre that comes from the production of meats and the water used in the process, it doesn’t hold a candle to most crops.

    Keep up the good work, and may the souls of slaughtered cucumbers haunt your dreams.

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