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So, Why Do You Eat Meat?

Recently, I realized that I’ve been living around vegans for too long. I used to regularly attend events where corpses and cheese-laden dishes were the norm and many people thought “veganism” was a type of rash. Several years ago, when I was still in college, you couldn’t stop me from talking to people about factory farming, how milk causes osteoporosis, and why vegans rarely have heart attacks—if it had to do with why people shouldn’t eat animals, I wanted to talk about it. Now, I rarely talk to people who aren’t already vegan, and when I do, it can be rather frustrating. I get a little exasperated when I hear “But I need protein” or “I just love steak,” and I would rather roll my eyes than engage them in conversation.

Obviously, this sort of attitude isn’t good for helping animals, so I try to muster a smile and politely explain that I eat all sorts of wonderful foods and, as you can see from my hips, I clearly don’t starve. The unfortunate reality is that after a while, it can get draining to have to explain why you don’t eat rotting flesh (as if this should require an explanation), to keep a sunny face while someone makes a disgusted frown and sniffs at your perfectly delicious tofu dish at a church potluck, and to be the best advocate for animals that you can be.

Luckily for all of us, PETA VP Bruce Friedrich wrote a great guide to being an effective advocate a few years back, and it offers a ton of excellent responses to common questions and comments. Here are my own personal responses to two common questions:

They ask: What do you eat?

I say: I eat everything! Last week I had enchiladas, calzones, and faux-chicken Caesar salad. Tonight I’m having barbecue tofu and brownies! It’s so easy to make a vegan version of my favorite foods, and my diet has way more variety now than it did when I ate animals.

They say: I could never give up cheese. How do you live without it?

I say: I’m from Wisconsin, so giving up cheese was a big deal for me. But I found that once I stopped eating it, not only did I not notice it was missing, it also started to be really unappealing. I’ve had enough cheese-free burritos, veggie burgers, pizzas, and macaroni to know that all cheese really adds is fat and cholesterol. The vegan versions not only taste better but are also better for me.

What are some of your favorite responses to those inquiring, meat-eating minds?

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  • tom says:

    i think that a particular message board such as this that promotes anti-meat-eating sentiments and presents them as fact should be removed from the internet.

  • dr fred says:

    eating meat is disgusting & unhealthy.
    Plus it harms our world on many levels.

    I am a semi vegan…I never eat red meat or flesh.
    on rare occasion I make an exception & eat organic dairy & even chicken & fish…but only because…sometimes it is next to impossible to eat a 100% pure vegan diet… such as when traveling or a hospital stay etc… & you will literally go hungry….

    but other than those times I stay as much vegan as possible

  • glenn says:

    there should never be pain or bad treatment of any animal period,, not advicating that at all

  • florida says:

    hi! i am florida.most people eat meat and forget how it got there. well, one day i was looking forward to becoming a vegitarian after my mom was cutting some deer meat. ewww! after that i found a website called whhich made me think again before i eat meat again.while i saw the video of how farm factories killed and abused animals tears came to my eyes, then that is when i decided to become a vegetarian.

    P.S. i felt the guiltiest person in whole wide world as i watching the video,and you should really check that video out if you are going to eat meat again. thank you!

  • Natasha says:

    I need help. I just relapsed and now I feel guilty than ever. I do not want to watch the online videos cuz I know what they do with those animals. I became a vegan because of my one and only baby Gizmo(my dog. Can anyone give me some tips on how not to relapse again?

  • Samantha Paige says:

    If Slaughterhouses had glass walls, the whole world would be a vegetarian. -Linda McCartney
    Becoming a vegetarian is one of the most effective actions you can take to help out the Earth. You can protect the planet from pollution, prevent global warming, and save a number of species from extinction. About 10 million Americans today consider themselves vegetarians according to a Times poll. 20 million Americans have once tried to practice vegetarianism in the past. To me, vegetarianism is a way to protect animals around me from any harm. I believe in non-violence. I know what I’m doing is right. I feel good about not eating meat.

  • Natalie says:

    I read a tonne of books about nutrition, having recently become a vegan. Here is my advice to those struggling:

    1. Take each day as it comes and don’t make the diet feel like a lifetime sentence. I find reading articles online at Peta and watching videos on youtube help.

    2. Consider the health benefits. Even in your teens you start building up the deposits in your arteries that will probably result in a heart attack for many Americans. Not eating meat not only spares the animal the pain of a short and miserable life in bad conditions but also spares you cancer and heart disease later in life. Even lean chicken contains fat.

    3. Dairy is probably worse for you than eating the meat itself. It’s up to 100% animal fat that is bad for you. Buy Soy/Rice Dream and use Smart Balance Spread.

    4. Read ‘Eat To Live’ by Joel Fuhrman for the biological advantages to not eating meat. It does not cover factory farming etc, but Peta have that covered.

    5. Look at your pets and ask yourself if you would consider eating them? Then ask yourself if you would consider supporting an industry that involves baby Easter type chicks being stamped to death for being male, ripping the genitals and beaks off unanestheticised animals. Drinking milk is not only bad for you but supports the veal industry… gross.

    6. Anyone can do it, just keep touching base and reading on animal cruelty etc to remotivate. Talk to other vegetarians and learn the health benefits to motivate yourself. It took me 25 years to have the courage to give up meat, better late than never to realize what we are really doing as a species to the rest of the world.

  • Randi says:

    I have been asked “Why are you vegan?” so many times now, between both my family and my classmates. Sometimes it is a real pain because I can be “ganged” up on by the meat-eaters. I mean, do I really want to have people angry at me for a simple conversation? Some related? (It has happened :[) Most of the time I just shrug off their questions unless they are genuinely interested. These tips are great! I’ve never thought of just reeling off what I really eat, I imagine that might surprise them.

  • Ashley says:

    When someone says something along those lines, I try to ‘read’ them. If I think talking to them and giving them my opinion helps, then I’ll definately speak my mind. But sometimes you can just tell when someone is so stubborn, and doesn’t have an open mind at all.
    And then when people say things like, “We’re supposed to eat meat, that’s what TEETH are for” I look at them and just tell them flat out, “Yes, that IS what teeth are for, but do you realize that when the Native Americans ate their meat, they RESPECTED and WORSHIPED the animals, and NO PART of the animal was ever wasted.”
    It’s true, and these absent minded people have no clue what goes on in these factories, and most of them are so cruel that they don’t give a crap anyway.
    Funny story, I’m the only one in my family who doesn’t eat meat, and I had some Morning Star Garden Patties for dinner one night, and my little sister was sitting there and I gave her a bite. She LOVED it. She told my step mother that she was going to stop eating meat so she could eat the morning star products. They are so delicious, I don’t know why EVERYONE doesn’t eat them and give the cows a break!!! The chik patties and nuggets are awesome as well.

  • kevin says:

    hello my name is kevin im 12 years old when i went on youtube to find out what was happaning to animals i fell to tears i felt like i was going to die from how much i was crying i feel so bad for the dogs and cats and lambs and all of the animals that had to suffer just for humans to eat them or waer them since when did humens have the right to kill animals so painfully imagine if you where an animal and you got killed like that one thing that makes me mad is my parents never told me ! i never knew animals were hurt so badly when i saw a video of people in china killing dogs by steming them in bags i felt so bad i couldent eat any kind of meat in weeks and if i maneged to get any vehies in my i would remember the video and vomit i really hope that this animal cruelty will end

  • Yareli says:

    I’ve been a vegetarian for quite some time now, and I must say, I love it. I feel so much better and it is a great experience for me. Trying out all the meat-free substitites. I don’t even know why I used to eat meat.

  • Bryan says:

    Hey, I loved your article about why do you eat meat!
    I am tryig to become a vegetarian, i’ve tried for so long, but it is so hard. sometimes I feel like I have to witness some kind of strong experience in order to become one.
    I dont really like meat. in fact i eat it as much as once a month, but I would really stop the crave for it.
    about the milk, wht would I drink if I stop drinkig milk, and what about the cheese stuff?
    i would love giving up on meat!!!

  • Sunny - Happy Granny of 4 Angels says:

    Hi All You Wonderful Animal Lovers!

    Deep in my heart, I am a vegetarian. In the past recent months, I have relapsed into eating some meat. I feel terrible. I’m getting back on track now. Please…any tips would be more than appreciated. I am a Christian who believes that when it’s quoted in the Bible in Genesis, paraphrasing – God created every herb and seed for our food and animals to enjoy. O.K. – the mnute I read that the first time the Holy Spirit came flooding through with a revelation that it means we nurture, pet, and basically enjoy the unconditional love they bring. Makes sense? You bet.

    Love ‘n Blessings to All and I respect everyone’s diligence and courage. I am an activist granny however I cannot speak out when I am a hippocrate, so please help.

    Sunny xo

  • Chris says:

    Hello, I just recently (in the last three months, ha) “turned” vegan. I love it. I spend less money, eat more of a variety, and just feel healthier. Ha, I like the cheese topic. I gave it up about a year ago, because of the fat. Then I thought, what hell, lets try the meat! Three months later and feel great!!!!!

  • Arizona Thorson says:

    hahaha I do that same thing for the cheese! i am from WI and people say that stuff to me and i say what u just said! GOOD JOB! love the advice

  • sebastian says:

    Uh, the Bible?
    Genesis 1:29
    ‘Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”‘
    He obviously thought plants were plenty enough.

  • L says:

    A vegan friend of mine had the best response for “curious” meat-eaters. They’d ask “So, when you go to the supermarket you have to read every single label?” and he’d reply “What? You’ll just eat ANYTHING??” It stopped them short and made them think about the way they blindly consume what they’re used to without really knowing what’s inside it.

  • melissa szudy says:

    I get really frustrated answering questions about my choice in diet and often answer with a question also. Such as “Why don’t you eat meat?”, I usually comment, “Why do you?”. I love to hear their ridiculous claims of climbing some invisible food chain ladder. Then I politely explain to them why people shouldn’t, health, environment, save animals, just disgusting, etc. I’m VEGAN and very proud. I love PETA too!!!

  • Cassidy Y. says:

    I’m 12 going on 13, and I find PETA Kids too young for me, so I just look at regular Peta. I’m vegetarian, and I agree. It IS frustrating when people say things like”I need protein” or “I love meat too much”. Although, I used to be just like them. On the other hand I no longer agree with most of what they say, and I DO get frustrated when people say things like that. I’m only not vegan because I know my mom wouldn’t let me go any farther than vegetarian. When people ask why I’m vegetarian, I just ask them a question back… mostly something like, “Would you want to get to know an animal if you intended to eat them?”