Offensive Things People Say to Vegans Without Realizing It

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: The Kitchn)

I’m not a vegan, but I know plenty of folks who have eliminated animal products from their diets. I’d like to think I’ve always had an appropriate reaction — or at least, not a totally horrendous one.

To be sure, I’ve asked a bunch of my vegan friends to share some of the worst things people have ever said to them. Turns out, I think I’ve responded pretty well considering some of these real-life quotes.

1. “Then what do you eat?”

Food. They eat food. They just don’t eat meat or dairy products made from animals. It’s pretty simple, actually.

2. “I was going to invite you to my summer barbecue, but there’s going to be meat … “

So not cool. It’s not like vegans can’t be within 20 feet of a burger. They just don’t want to put it into their mouths.

3. “I made these meaty sandwiches, but you can just pick off the meat, right?”

The meat has contaminated those sandwiches. It’s not like you have to go all out, but it’s not okay to think that your vegan friend can just eat around meat.

4. “But what about bacon? And all the cheese?”

Most vegans probably like these things. They’ve just made a life choice not to eat them. Do not remind them of all things you think they’re missing out on.

5. “Where do you get your protein from?”

It’s not really your business! Do you ask non-vegans how many calories they eat or how many carbs they consume?

6. “What’s with those nasty meat substitutes?”

The vegan you’re talking to might love those meat substitutes and now you’ve insulted her tastes. Note: Vegans don’t necessarily give up meat because they don’t like the taste of meat (they just don’t like eating animals). So they might enjoy a meatless meatloaf to still get the flavor. Also, not all meat substitutes taste like meat.

7. “Do you totally judge me because I eat meat?”

It’s a mistake to assume that vegans are sitting there judging your life choices. Just because they don’t eat meat does not mean that they think you’re a terrible person because you do.

8. “But it’s only natural to eat meat.”

To you. It’s natural to you.

9. “I read that being a vegan is actually bad for your health.”

If you dig hard enough, you can find studies that say vegetables are bad for you. Ditto for water. What’s the truth? Who knows! But you probably shouldn’t eat a slice of meat-lovers pizza and, the next day, tell people that they’re not healthy.

10. “I thought vegans were supposed to be, like, super skinny.”

Count this as the most offensive — and common! — thing my friends told me. This response just assumes that vegans sit around snacking on lettuce leaves all day and it’s a body image insult! Rude.

Are you vegan? What’s the most offensive thing someone has ever said to you about your dietary choices?