Going vegan is an excellent way to help animals, the planet, and your health. And while it feels great to know you’re living your best life, we can sometimes lose track of the fact that most of us ate meat at one point or another in our lives. It’s awesome to feel proud, but it’s also important for us to stay humble, give people the benefit of the doubt, and encourage people rather than preach or come off as self-righteous.
So before you say the wrong thing, we’ve come up with a guide for things you absolutely shouldn’t say to a meat eater.
1. “You don’t care about animals.
While you may feel this way inside, claiming meat eaters don’t love animals won’t help anyone (or any animals). The truth is, the majority of vegans once ate meat, dairy, and eggs—would you say that you didn’t care about animals at that time? Probably not. Instead, try calmly explaining to them how eating vegan can help spare hundreds of animals a lifetime of misery.
2. “Vegan food is always healthy.
Countless studies have proved that plant-based foods are significantly healthier than animal products. In fact, scientists have found that a plant-based diet reduces one’s risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. While this is a great benefit to share with meat eaters, it’s not true that ALL vegan foods are healthy. Oreos are vegan, for instance, but we’d hardly classify them as health food. Use your best judgment here.
3. “You’re murdering animals.
Sure, by consuming animal products meat eaters support an industry that abuses and kills animals, but calling someone a murderer probably won’t make them receptive to change. The best way to open someone up to learning about veganism is to empower them.
4. “You should go vegan overnight!
Some people can go vegan overnight—and that’s fantastic. But most people who go and stay vegan do it gradually. Let people know they can go vegan at their own pace. Encourage them. They’ll get there.
5. “Vegans never get sick.
While science has proved that eating plant-based food can greatly improve your health and immune system, to say vegans never get sick would be a lie. A plant-based diet is not 100 percent protection against illness, so keep taking vitamin C.
6. “You are a hopeless cause and will never go vegan.
Never doubt someone’s ability to go vegan. With enough conviction, anyone can do it. Yes, even the biggest bacon lover. Don’t believe us? Just read this recent story about a cattle rancher who decided to go vegan. So never write anyone off!
7. “Meat eaters are overweight.
This isn’t just inaccurate; it’s offensive. Whether directed at a meat eater or a fellow vegan, fat shaming is never OK.
8. “Plant-based meats are only for vegans.
As vegans, our mission is to teach people that animals are not things, animals value their lives, and killing them just because we like the way they taste is wrong. But the truth is, the recent explosion of delicious vegan alternatives to meat, dairy, and eggs owes a lot to meat eaters who opt to eat plant-based a few times a week. In fact, 90 percent of the clientele at Veggie Grill, a popular vegan restaurant chain on the West Coast and in Chicago, is not even vegetarian. What’s more, a recent study found that half of U.S. dairy consumers also use vegan dairy alternatives.
Veganism is a lifestyle that promotes compassion for animals and lessens our impact on the planet and its inhabitants. It isn’t about perfection or purity; it’s about living in a way that takes a stand for a kinder world. Live this value by being kind not only to nonhuman animals but to humans. After all, everyone deserves compassion.