The world has built a wrong image about vegans and worldwide we are considered weird, crazy and extreme so whenever I find myself in new situations where I tell people that I am vegan, they usually react surprised and reply by “Oh, are you…really?”, “Wait, you’re a VEGAN?!” or “But you don’t look like a vegan!”.
Sometimes it’s just an awkward silence in between sentences but quite often I receive funny reactions, sarcastic jokes, and remarks or I’m being judged on the spot about my way of living.
But as the number of vegans continues to grow and veganism is becoming increasingly popular, the word vegan is slowly starting to settle in people’s vocabulary. So they become intrigued by what does it actually mean to be vegan. And then they start asking questions — these are the ones I’ve been getting the most over time.
1. “Where do you get your protein from?”
This is probably the question that I get asked on a regular basis and the one that almost all vegans are actually tired of hearing.
Most non-vegans think that protein could only be found in meat products and because of that, vegans lack it. Therefore, they are protein deficient — hence not healthy. But this is totally wrong as there are so many protein-rich vegan foods out there like beans, nuts, tofu, etc.
A plant-based diet can get you all the protein, vitamins, and nutrients your body needs. The key is to incorporate all of them into your everyday meals.
2. “So what do you eat?”
Food. That is plant-derived as we don’t consume anything that comes from animals or animal by-products. Contrary to popular belief we don’t only eat salad. Besides vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, and a wide variety of foods from around the world I also eat vegan versions of pizza, soups, burgers, desserts, plant-based meat alternatives you name it, as anything can be made vegan these days.
3. “How did you become vegan?”
I started this journey a few years ago and it was merely to give it a try and see how my body reacts and if I could do it after all — I was a vegetarian prior to this change. I didn’t go vegan overnight but at my own pace and it was all a process.
I love animals and the reason I became vegan was an ethical one and after I made the connection and realised that animals are not food but sentient beings that want to live as much as us, I decided that this should be reflected in the way I eat, the shoes and bags I buy, the make-up I use — so I decided that my entire lifestyle had to change. I couldn’t call myself an animal lover and at the same time eat animal products, wear something that came from an animal or use beauty products that were tested on animals.
What started as a simple journey of discovery in the world of veganism has now become a way of living for me.
4. “Isn’t it expensive to be vegan?”
It all depends on what you’re buying — any food can be expensive, vegan, or non-vegan. Yes, some plant-based milk, vegan meat alternatives, and prepared meals are more expensive but this is a small price to pay for an ethical choice that has a positive impact on your health, animals, and planet. Vegetables, rice, beans, potatoes are far from expensive and with almost every supermarket now selling plant-based food, anyone can afford to be vegan.
5. “Do you miss eating meat? How about cheese?”
When you know how meat and cheese become food you don’t want to have that in your plate anymore. I didn’t go vegan because I didn’t like the taste of meat but because I didn’t want to eat or exploit the life of animals anymore. Thankfully, there are so many vegan meat and cheese alternatives for whenever I feel like eating a vegan burger or a pizza with vegan mozzarella but without the suffering of sentient beings.
6. “Isn’t it hard to be vegan?”
Not at all. Being vegan is honestly a lot easier than people think especially that there is a plant-based alternative to almost any food you can think of. And I feel a huge reward in my heart when I know that by being vegan I save dozens of animal lives each year.
7. “Wait, why is honey not vegan?”
This has become quite a controversial topic to discuss and when I tell non-vegans that I don’t consume honey because it’s not vegan they’re quite shocked like, “what is wrong with honey?”.
Honey is not vegan because it’s made by bees for bees and without it, they would starve. It provides nutrients for bees during winter months or poor weather.
Did you know that a single working bee can visit up to 10,000 flowers in one day and a teaspoon of honey means all of her lifetime work?
I don’t eat honey because I don’t want to exploit the work of bees. That’s all.
“But what did you replace honey with?”, I get asked. And the answer is, there are many alternatives like agave nectar, maple syrup, molasses just to name a few and they are just as tasty as honey but without feeling guilty.
It’s true that these questions and answers can lead to arguments between vegans and non-vegans but they can also lead to meaningful and perception changing conversations.