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Top 10 Comebacks at a Protest

Written by PETA | May 30, 2008

We’ve all been there—holding our signs, chanting our protest slogans, passing out our leaflets, and smiling and waving until we felt like the bloody Queen of England. And then some person who’s having a bad day decides to take it out on you because you’re an easy target.

He or she says something mean or stupid—or, ingeniously, both—and you need a comeback … fast. Here’s the catch: Your comeback has to be polite. And since you’re not going to change the person with one quick-witted quip, you need to try to engage him or her by making a quick point and then asking questions so that you can have a conversation about the issues. Seem like too tall of an order? Not at all! Check out our top 10 comebacks at a protest (to keep it simple, let’s say it’s a pro-vegetarian protest). Keep in mind, there’s no “right answer.” Basically, you want to open the person’s mind to the fact that animals suffer terribly and he or she can do something about it.

  1. Comment: “What do you think about abortion?”
    Response: “I believe in protecting innocent life. That’s why I’m vegetarian. If people did to dogs and cats the sorts of things that are done to animals on factory farms, they’d go to jail for cruelty to animals. Did you know that there’s no legal protection for these animals?”
  2. Comment: “I like chicken!”
    Response: “I didn’t give up meat because I didn’t like how it tastes. I gave it up because I saw how horribly animals suffered for my plate. Have you ever seen what happens on factory farms?”
  3. Comment: “If God didn’t want us to eat animals, why’d he make them so tasty?”
    Response: “That’s funny. [Sometimes you say something’s funny when really it’s the most unimaginative and stupid thing that a person could say.] But you know, there are a lot of things that are really delicious that don’t require animals to suffer and die. Have you ever seen how much animals are abused on factory farms?”
  4. Comment: “We’ve always eaten meat.”
    Response: “That’s true. [You don’t lose anything by affirming someone else’s beliefs and it may make the person more receptive to your perspective.] But there are many things that we’ve done historically that we no longer think are OK. We used to think that slavery was OK, that it was OK to treat women like second-class citizens, and that it was OK to beat children, but we don’t think any of those things are OK today. In the past, we didn’t really understand other animals, but the more we learn about other animals, the more we see that they’re very much like us, especially in their capacity to suffer. Do you see what I mean?”
  5. Comment: “Animals eat each other, so why shouldn’t we eat them?”
    Response: “I see your point, but we don’t really take our moral cues from other animals, do we? Some animals fight territorial battles to the death, some eat their young, and some kill their partners after having sex. We don’t follow animals in those behaviors, so why would we follow the behavior of some animals to eat other animals?”
  6. Comment: “It’s a free country, and people should be allowed to make choices. If you want to eat tofu, that’s fine. I want to eat steak.”
    Response: You’re right: It is a free country. We’re just saying that people should make informed choices. The meat industry isn’t bending over backward to let consumers know where their meat comes from, so we’re here to offer that information. The meat industry doesn’t want you to know that animals are packed together so tightly on filthy factory farms that they often can’t turn around or spread a single wing or take a single step. They don’t want you to know that these animals take their first breath of fresh air when they’re on the back of a truck headed to slaughter. Did you know there are no legal protections for animals on factory farms?”
  7. Comment: “The Bible gives us dominion over animals.”
    Response: “That’s true. [Even if you don’t believe in the Bible, there’s no reason to take on the person’s faith along with their dietary habits.] But The Queen of England has dominion over her subjects, and that doesn’t give her the right to torture and kill them. ‘Dominion’ doesn’t give us a right to do what we want to animals; it means that we should have reverence for them and protect them. Does this make sense?”
    Alternate Response: “That’s true, but God endowed animals with certain abilities that are totally frustrated on today’s factory farms. Animals are taken away from their mothers at birth. They’re crowded into sheds and cages so tightly that they can’t take one step or spread one wing. Surely, God didn’t want His animals abused so hideously. Do you see my point?”
  8. Comment: “What about the screaming broccoli, you plant-killing hypocrite?”
    Response: “I hear what you’re saying. But surely you’ll agree that there is a fundamental difference between tearing up a head of lettuce and bashing in a dog’s head with a baseball bat. The ability to feel pain requires a brain, a central nervous system, and pain receptors. All mammals, birds, and fish have these things; plants do not. Animals feel pain, just as we do. As far as we know, plants don’t. Would you agree?”
  9. Comment: “It must be really boring to eat only vegan foods.”
    Response: “I thought it might be boring, too, when I first went vegan, but I was surprised by the great variety of vegan foods. These days, with so much demand for healthy, delicious, cruelty-free foods, you don’t have to give up anything in the way of taste or texture to go vegan. Whether you’re looking for veggie burgers and dogs, faux-chicken patties, faux dairy products … even faux shrimp cocktail—it’s out there. And there’s a world of cuisines based around grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. If you like to cook, you should definitely check out VegCooking.com for hundreds of great recipes!”
  10. Comment: “Where do you get your protein?”
    Response: “I worried about protein when I first went vegan, but then I learned that vegetarian Americans get 150 percent of their recommended daily allowance of protein. Protein is in so many foods—beans, grains, tofu, faux meats, soy milk, and also a lot of vegetables and fruits. Plus, do you really know anyone with a protein deficiency?”

—Grace

Posted by Grace Friedan, Researcher

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  • Rhonda Ridley says:

    Could anyone help me on this one ? I am SOO sick of people saying “if animals weren’t used for eating they would have no reason to live “.. It sounds rediculous I know . But WHAT can I say ?? any ideas ?

  • S.Q. says:

    Comment “Animals eat each other so why shouldn’t we eat them?” Response “I see your point but we don’t really take our moral cues from other animals do we? Some animals fight territorial battles to the death some eat their young and some kill their partners after having sex. We don’t follow animals in those behaviors so why would we follow the behavior of some animals to eat other animals?” 1. War 2. Abortion 3. Rapeassault

  • Maya, CVT says:

    Mandy it’s an interesting question. I can only speak for myself NOT for PETA. But of course any normal person is against abortion. When is the last time you heard a woman say “I loved having an abortion it was the best day of my life!” No one likes abortion. But should it be illegal? Eating meat is not illegal pet stores are not illegal the fur trade is not illegal. These animals are tortured. If someone did those things to a child they would be put in jail forever or given a death sentence. I’m curious can you give me a logical reason why for example a cow’s life is LESS valueable than a child’s life? Logical reasons only please.

  • Mandy says:

    I respect the concerns of PETA… it’s your right. I would love to know how many people that support PETA are “Pro Choice” on abortion. I don’t like the idea of cruelty to animals but I abhor the idea of killing an unborn child. How can anyone support PETA yet be Pro Choice. How is the life of any animal more important than the life of even one child? I wish those supporting PETA would put as much effort into opposing the abortion of a living unborn HUMAN CHILD as they did any level of animal cruelty. “Priority” Why not make protecting innocent human life top priority and animal life secondary?

  • Luke says:

    Should’ve thrown in just one quick comeback that stings just for fun.

  • Nick says:

    So I have to ask. If everybody becomes a Vegan and stops using animals for services and entertainment. What will be the future for things like cows chickens pigs horses and other farm animals. They are essentially worthless outside of those things. These animals have been almost completely removed from nature and can’t just be wedged into a food chain somewhere. Thus the most likely fate of those animals you saved will be a slow death as these worthless domesticated animals most of which couldn’t survive in the wild anymore if they wanted to .

  • jenny roberts says:

    Love these comebacks kudos to you grace! GOD I LOVE BEING A VEG! ROCK ON PETA!!!!

  • Thomas says:

    I want more ’cause I lolled

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Jameel You do need to eat to survive but humans aren’t required to eat animals for survivalobligate carnivores yes.

  • Phyllis says:

    I love the list but how could you have left out the classic “Get a Life” or the lesser but still heard “Get a job”? We hear these almost all the time in Atlanta usually shouted or muttered as they are driving or walking away. To “Get a Life” I usually reply “Got a great one” or “Got a great one that doesn’t take one”.

  • Jameel says:

    So Isobelle When we eat animals it’s done for sport and not survival?? I’m not a Vegan but I do accept that the treatment of animals in our society is outrageous. But I really need a better response to the “animals eat other animals” argument than they do it for survival or the population is too large. Last time I checked I ate my food for survival.

  • Blythe Barrymore says:

    I love this……and I love being vegetarian…..I really want to go vegan but I’m a very picky eater and I hate alot of foods….I also have a tight budget and I believe that us “VegHeads” are meant to make to world care too.

  • rivegan says:

    Hunting is wrong in so many ways but let me guess what his comments were Animal Overpopulation Reponse There’s a more humane way of dealing with overpopulation which is currently practiced in other areas. If it’s truly a problem which usually is not then a program should be in place to tranquillize and neuter put up fences relocate them etc. Survival of the fittest Response Whoever uses this probably doesn’t know it’s origination. This is a excerpt from Darwin’s Natural Selection. It doesn’t mean human’s should abuse power. It has to do with the evolution process and how the weaker animal dies leaving the stronger ones to procreate. A hunter usually shoots the largest and most superior of the pack reversing this very process they are promoting. Feel free to post specifics…

  • amber says:

    can you make top 10 comebacks at a discussion about hunting. i had a convorsation with my uncle about hunting and as bad as it sounds he made me think for less than a second that hunting helped animals. i know thats not true but in a week or two i might have dinner with him again and i want to be able to say good comebacks not just the classic animals want to live their lives just as we do.

  • Meg says:

    P.E.T.A is doing the right thing thats all it comes down too.

  • Tamara says:

    Another short answer I give to the abortionchildren thing”Pro life is Pro ALL Life” That’s short and they hear all of it as they are walking away…

  • Simon Validzic says:

    Some alternative responses 5. other animal eating animals “Other animals do not have a population of 6.7 billion and therefore do not cause as much harm to species and the environment as humans do”. 8. the killing of plants “Most of the food that I eat does not involve the killing of plants because it is made of grains nuts fruits and those “vegetables” that are scientifically “fruits” such as tomatos cucumbers peppers etc. Also eating plants directly consumes much less plants and land area than using plants to feed animals first.” Actually I gave up potatos lettuce spinach etc. which do involve killing the plant because I could not be bothered preparing them ! and only later realised that I was doing an ethical thing.

  • Kimberly Smith says:

    Thanks Grace I miss the mark on this alot. It makes me so sad what is happening to animals in the world and I don’t like to feel sad. Working on behaf of animals helps to alleviate that saddness. That saddness can quickly be converted to anger and even rage when confronted with coldhearted comments. Often I have used my freedom of speech to the max to offend to curse to embarrass and humiliate. Also I have some thoughtful comments at a horse protest I said to a man “how would you like to pull a carriage with that limp” he said “are you trying to be wise” I said “I think I am” he turned around a very large man and got very close standing right in front of me. I without fear said to him “The Fear of God is the Beginning of Wisdom”. Without a word he walked away.

  • jen says:

    thanks for these responses… its very helpful…i wish i had them before in my back pocket

  • Antoinette says:

    great ways to turn the conversation around

  • Isobelle says:

    I love to shut people down when they try to insult me with the classic “For every animal you don’t eat I’ll eat Two” by saying how seeing as I don’t eat any animals they would have to eat twice as many animals as there is on Earth which is impossible. And when people say “Animals eat each other so why shouldn’t we eat them?” I say that in the wild when an animal hunts it is for survival not because they feel like a steak and they kill their prey as quick as they can They do not torture them. And that there is a circle of life in the wild Sort of like what it says on the lion king.

  • lynda downie says:

    Really smart comebacks Grace. Excellent ways to bring the issue back around to animals when others try to shift the focus. Thanks!

  • yesi says:

    yup really useful thanx!

  • Judith, Freedom Fighter for Animals says:

    Goodness I am going to have to carry this list around with me wherever I go! Peace for all animals!

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Very well written and useful too! I like how the responses are helpful not hurtful. If you can’t engage in a discussion without getting your hackles up you won’t be very effective. Stay cool calm and collected.

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