21 Stupid Things People Say To Vegans

A collection of things people say to vegans, because sometimes you just have to laugh.

1. The number 1 stupid thing people say is “Where do you get your protein?” Arggghhh! People are not short on protein. If a healthy person eats enough calories on a range of foods, chances are they will meet their protein requirements. However, meat and dairy and eggs contain NO FIBRE, so the most logical reply to that is “Where do you get your fibre?”

2. But Hitler was a vegetarian. And the response is “How is that even relevant?” In online debates, the first person to mention the Holocaust loses, except when it comes to vegetarians and vegans, then Hitler is proof of … who knows what in the minds of people making this point. (And, by the way, NO, he wasn’t.)

3. If we didn’t eat animals first, they would eat us. Elephants, horses, bulls – some of the strongest animals there are, are also vegetarian. 65 Billion animals are killed for food (not counting those killed for other reasons) a year, there are less than 7 billion people on the planet, that’s a sort of disparity in numbers.

Highland cattle

Image via Wikipedia

4. I like animals too… smothered in gravy, next to the mashed potato. Is there anything more moronic? Is there any response to that, except roll your eyes and walk away.

5. If God didn’t want us to eat animals, why did he make them out of meat? Ok, if God didn’t want us to eat people, why did he make them out of meat. Generally it is the same people who never set food in a place of worship who say this.

6. Oh, I could never be vegan, I like meat too much. How about a rapist saying, Oh I could never stop raping, I like it too much. or A drug addict, Oh I could never stop drugs, I like them too much. or, Oh I could never stop driving way too fast, I like it too much. Just because you like something does not mean that it is good for you, or good for others.

7. But vegetables feel pain too. I saw this on a vegan forum once, a response so brilliant, I wish I could take credit… “I tell you what, I will jab you in the eye with this carrot – let’s see who feels more pain, you or the carrot”. If plants could feel pain, they would have evolved a mechanism for avoid it. And meat eaters are still eating plants, it is just processed through the bodies of animals, so if they really cared about plant-rights they would give up meat.

8. But fish/bees/chickens don’t feel pain. They use this to justify eating fish, honey, eggs. Sometimes it is said by the same people who think vegetables feel pain. Any animal with a central nervous system feels pain, that includes bees and fish. I am at a complete loss where this idea that fish don’t feel pain comes from.

Macro Bee

Image by Antonio Machado via Flickr

9. and 10. On telling someone you don’t eat honey, they may say “Bees aren’t animals” or “but honey comes from flowers“. What? What do you mean, bees aren’t animals? Since when? Of course they are animals, and honey is produced from bee-vomit. They swallow the pollen and partially digest it, then regurgitate it. Honey comes from from flowers in much the same way that steak comes from grass and corn.

11. But god told us to eat animals, it’s in the bible. Well, actually, No, apart from the whole -how accurate is the bible?- debate. Page 1 of the bible, God puts all the good stuff right up front, it’s a long book, he knows some people might get bored and skip pages so, page 1 GEN 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.”

12. Yeah, but god said, we have dominion over animals. GEN 1:26 “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” That says dominion, it does not say, “you have dominion, and eat them”. For Christians, god was pretty specific about what he meant for food – Every Tree That Has Fruit With Seed In It. It’s hard to believe that 3 lines later, he would forget to add that part about eating animals.

The Bible

Image via Wikipedia

Besides, the bible also says, Ex 20:13 “thou shall not kill” it is one of the 10 commandments. It is actually number 6, why it is not in the top five commandments, is a debate for theologists. For people who believe in the literal translation of the bible (eg, the earth is 6000 years old, stone the homosexuals) seem to twist and turn this very basic commandment to mean whatever they want it to mean.

13. Animals were raised for food, to not eat them is disrespectful. How about all those children in Third World countries, that were sold into slavery or make 20C a day making sports shoes, to not buy them would be disrespectful. Or all those women who are abuses and raped in porn movies, to not watch them would be disrespectful. The animals didn’t raise themselves to be eaten or raped to produce milk, people did that, and they did it for money! It is only disrespectful to large multinational corporations that have their profits as a main concern and not your health, the planet’s health, or the animals welfare in mind.

14. Animals give their life for food, when I eat them I give thanks to their spirit and honour them. Ok, to be perfectly clear, animals don’t GIVE anything, they have their lives STOLEN from them, they have no say, they have no choice. And whether you give thanks or not, they are still just as dead, slaughtered, murdered. I would like to murder your child and cook ‘em up in the deep fry, would that be ok, as long as I gave thanks and honoured their spirit? No? Really? What a surprise.

15. A wise native man told me once, that is the circle of life, we eat animals and when we die, our bodies are returned to the earth and animals eat us. Ok, I will give you this one, you are only allowed to eat your body weight worth of worms, bugs, insects, maggots and bacterial slime in the entire course of your life time. Fair trade? But sheep, cows, chickens, pigs being vegetarian animals are off the menu, they would not eat you, so they are not part of your life circle.

CAT combine harvester

Image via Wikipedia

16. What about all those animals killed in the combine harvester, so in fact, vegans cause more deaths than meat eaters. Most grain in this world is feed to animals raised for food. U.S. Could Feed 800 Million People With Grain That Livestock Eat, Cornell Ecologist Advises Animal Scientists. So if someone cares so much about the mice and locusts that get killed during harvesting, they should stop eating meat and animal products as a first step.

16. If we didn’t hunt animals, the world would be over run by all the lambs and chickens and coyotes that we don’t eat. If animals weren’t breed for food, they wouldn’t be breed. Farmers don’t raise animals for fun, they do it for profit, if there is no profit, they won’t do it. And as for animals like deer, kangaroo, foxes, coyotes, these animals only appear to be over-running the suburbs with their increased populations because we are now putting subdivisions and roads in their homes. We are taking their land, there have no where else to go.

17. Fur is green, and leather is warm, by wearing animal skins we are keeping cheap synthetics out of the landfill. Fur is not green, it is the skin of a slaughtered animal, which takes masses amounts of chemicals to process, or it would decompose, like all dead bodies. And if land used to raise natural fibres was not being used to raise animal, there would be no problems.

18. I would be vegan, but I like ice-cream too much. So, give up everything except ice-cream. If ice-cream is the one thing stopping you from being vegan, why are you still eating meat, cheese, cream, honey, eggs?

19. My neighbours, cousins, brother-in-laws, sisters boss was a vegan once, and got very very sick, ate a steak and felt better. Ok that is anecdotal and if you don’t actually know this person, does that count? Most people I know eat animal products, and they get very very sick with cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes.

20. “If I go vegan, I’ll get weak, pale and ill” or “vegans are hard core terrorists“. Well, were you pale to start with? Make up your mind, violent and aggressive or weak and pale.

21. It’s my right to eat animals, wear animals, experiment on animals. Your rights stop where another life is affected, you don’t have the right to kill, abuse, torture, slaughter, any living creature, that is not a right.


Feedback welcome.

12 Comments to “21 Stupid Things People Say To Vegans”

  1. Well, speaking as an apathetic omnivore, I can say that most of these would work brilliantly against a mentally challenged strawman. So bravo. I mean, seriously, who uses “But I like meat too much” as an ETHICAL argument? Now to poke some holes in your few yet gigantic logical fallacies.

    First of all, when someone uses a Reductio ad Absurdum on you, you can’t turn around and say “well, you don’t care about this absurd conclusion, so YOU’RE the hypocrite.” No. They’re saying “if we take your argument at face value, it leads to this contradiction in your views. Therefore, your views are inconsistent.” Some of them take the logic a step too far and say “therefore I’m right,” but up until then, they’re on perfectly solid ground. It’s called using a modus tollens argument.

    Now, of course, it’s often said that “one man’s modus tollens is another man’s modus ponens,” but that says nothing about the validity of the argument or the intelligence of the arguer. Just which received wisdom is more sacred in the ear of the listener. Going out on a limb here, but I think that may have been how veganism originally started way back somewhere. Someone argued “if vegetarianism then veganism. Veganism is false, therefore vegetarianism is false” And some vegetarian, faced with a choice between rejecting vegetarianism and accepting (gasp) veganism, accepted veganism. That said, I’m bored tonight, so I’ll go through a full critique of your points.

    1. Spot on. Tofu is a mushy, disgusting source of nourishing proteins and nutrients.

    2. So you recognize ONE common-to-the-point-of-cliche logical fallacy. Pity you commit so many others later on.

    3. Your critique is about as nonsensical as the argument. You lose for arguing against a mentally challenged strawman and completely failing to make a point. A better counter might be to observe that this completely misunderstands Darwin’s theory and, even granting its poor science, conflates “is” and “ought” without so much as a justification. If I accepted that animals had inalienable rights, it wouldn’t matter that animals routinely violated such rights (I think this is what you’re alluding at without saying). Evil perpetrated against the evil is still evil. For a while, this was one of my internal objections to vegetarianism (why should I believe in a right that the supposed “right-bearers” show no evidence of respecting in themselves), but then I realized I was committing a fallacy. So I guess I’m one plank short of an omnivore’s mansion now.

    4 is just a clever quip. You can’t critique that as an argument (and honestly, you come off a bit defensive when you insult the quipper’s intelligence).

    5. Yeah, this works, although I doubt anyone’s ever self-consciously said anything quite THAT circular. Even racists don’t argue “If God didn’t want us to oppress black people, why did he make them inferior,” and you’d be hard-pressed to find a bunch quite as prolifically fallacious as them.

    6. I’ve already critiqued this. It’s probably just a self-deprecating quip. To treat it as an argument speaks against your Theory of Mind (or, more likely, against your desire to actually engage with real, intelligent opponents)

    7. You raise the bullshit bar here. First of all, that quip isn’t at all clever. It’s brutish and obvious, and it doesn’t really say much of anything. Nor does it have redeeming linguistic or humorous value (unlike the one in 4). Also, your understanding of Darwin’s theory is rather…limited. Unless you (circularly) define “pain” as “that which the body seeks to avoid,” there’s no a priori reason why avoiding pain would necessarily be an evolutionary adaptation.

    Of course, you could make the (correct) observation that plants don’t have observable nervous systems or brains, and therefore don’t feel any neurological stimulus, let alone neurochemical “pain.” But then you get into hairy philosophical issues about why pain is necessarily neurological in origin (illustrating perfectly why science and philosophy feed off each other but aren’t identical). Returning to the “that which the body seeks to avoid” thing, given that studies have shown that plants respond to stimulus, and are, in seeking something, avoiding another thing, you could argue that inherent to any desire or voluntary movement is a dual “pain” (this has vaguely Buddhist overtones). And therefore, under that definition, plants do feel pain.

    Point is, there’s a lot of ambiguity that your vulgar “common-sense” doesn’t pick up on. A lot of ambiguity that a rights-based approach to animal welfare doesn’t account for with its black-and-white “either you have rights or you don’t” mentality. That’s why I choose to define rights in terms of capacity for reflection on the self in relation to the cosmos, applying Bayesian epistemological approaches. The former excludes all non-human animals, the latter includes mentally challenged humans and infants, since there is a probability, empirically verifiable to be nonzero, that any given mentally challenged human or infant is self-aware and reflective, which isn’t the case for non-human animals.

    8. Spot on here, though we get at the whole misunderstanding modus tollens thing here. I think most of the people who say plants feel pain are arguing that plants feel chemical-stimulative “pain,” as animals do, but, just like animals, don’t feel pain in the philosophical sense. Thus, they feel justified in denying the validity of a purely chemical approach to the ethical problem (most of them probably combine self-awareness with chemical “pain” in their definitions of philosophical pain). Not saying they’re necessarily right (though I agree with them, for the most part). What I am saying is that they’re consistent.

    9. Who says “bees aren’t animals?” I find it hard to believe that such distilled idiocy exists.

    10. Really doesn’t work. Their point is that you’re not EATING the bee. You’re eating its sweet, delectable, lusciously dripping vomit. The vegan argument makes some (superficial) sense, that you’re violating the bees’ “rights,” but it has nothing to do with eating steak. You may as well equate theft with cannibalism.

    11-12. Yeah, while I don’t endorse using uncritical Biblical exegesis as a foundation of morality (saying this as a theologically conservative Calvinist, so I’m not just religion-bashing), your attempt to interpret the Bible is even worse than most fundies’. Let’s see. I seem to recall that God preferred Abel’s sacrifice (lambs) to Cain’s (crops). I think that prima facie kills your attempt to derive 1960s hippie-ism from an ancient shepherd culture’s religious texts. And from a metatextual standpoint, the same people whom God inspired to write Genesis also wrote Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy (at least). The obvious cases of non-veganism there are beyond counting (lamb’s blood on Passover, sacrifices, ritual laws about meat). Your adversary, for once, has the right of it without my having to give him depth.

    13. Your philosophy of moral responsibility is a little shallow, not to mention that your examples are poorly chosen (IMO it would have been better to highlight prostitution than porn stars, most of whom are genuinely voluntary and non-coerced). This really smacks of the sort of uncritical second-rate leftism that goes around the less prestigious college campuses these days (seriously, there’s no such thing as one dimensional collective “oppression.” Human culture is so much more complex and interlinked than that, with exceedingly rare exceptions like the Holocaust. Even slavery had a quibble or two). Now, I will agree with you that A. assuming animals have inherent rights and B. that they played no collective part in their status of having those rights customarily violated, that that’s the closest any real world situation would come to approximating the left-humanist idea of “oppression.” Now, I’ll agree that your opponent is BS, but you aren’t all that much better, given that you assume vegan ethics to prove veganism true. Pretty darned circular.

    14. Good job. You refuted Native American spirituality on your own philosophical turf. How about something a little harder than kindergarten level? Like showing that they’re wrong/self-contradictory using THEIR assumptions.

    15. Well, taking your glib retort at face value, you ignore all the free food the maggots get off eating your poop along the waste treatment line. So I’d get a lot more than just my body weight (probably a couple hundred or thousand times it). And even so, all of those things except bacteria have nervous systems, so technically, regardless of whether they would eat you at some point, you still wouldn’t have a right (assuming vegan ethics) to eat them in term. Evil in response to evil is still evil, after all. If you discard that principle, then you pretty much discard veganism for a pure ethical egoism (you ought to do whatever it takes to propagate your genes. No wishy-washy “rights” BS. After all, every animal has caused the death of at least one other animal in its lifetime. Even the rabbit or the elephant has crushed an insect or two in its time).

    16. This is shallow. I’ll give you the first part, that if humans weren’t interfering with the ecosystem, it wouldn’t be out of wack in such a way that hunting was necessary to maintain a superficial normality. Then you go into the cliche “OMG WER TAKIN THE AMINALZ HOMES” argument that assumes that animals have some inherent right to real estate that you can derive from first principles. I doubt most vegans believe in that, let alone anyone else. At best, this is a (simplistic) descriptive critique. You say nothing new, ethically speaking.

    17. You raise a good point, but, in the end “words are wind.” Some statistics would be nice. You give a (plausible enough) counterpoint, not a rebuttal.

    18. What, a moderate, tolerant approach? Who knew animal rights people were capable of it?

    Then again, whatever points you gain for social acceptability, you immediately lose for philosophical consistency. If you equate milk, cheese, and meat production to stuff like rape and murder, I don’t see how what you’re saying is any different, on a fundamental level, than a Christian preacher telling a sadistic serial killer “oh sure, rape a few people. Get it out of your system. Is that the only thing stopping you from killing people?” I’m not exaggerating either. They are literally equivalent, if we take your assumption to be true. It’s only the reasonableness of eating ice cream (which you argue is an illusion) that makes what you say seem less extreme than that hypothetical preacher.

    19. What, anecdotal evidence isn’t valid? Isn’t this whole post an anecdotal ad hominem against non-vegans and their argumentation? Pot, meet kettle.

    20. Fair enough, though not quite as obvious as it seems at first glance. I mean, Ted Kaczynski (the UNABOMER) wasn’t all that physically hale, and he was more than capable of terrorism. Not all terrorists are brutishly violent. Some take a more methodical approach. Curiously, that subset of the population of terrorists often overlaps with the intellectual vanguard of various militant movements. Like animal rights-based veganism.

    21. A stirring declaration of principle. But not a refutation, and it’s rather dishonest to put a reasonable opposing viewpoint in with a bunch of rather idiotic junk. Let’s break it down. They say “I have the right to do X to animals,” presumably under the assumption that “animals do not have inherent rights.” Then you say “animals have inherent rights, so you do not have the right to do X to animals.” You’re talking past each other, since you accept the same logic, but you just hold different things sacred (the whole modus ponens/modus tollens thing I was talking about earlier). To beat them, you’d have to prove that animals DO have inherent rights, given their metaphysical assumptions and scientific data you both accept. You never once did that.

    Whew.

    • The examples I chose weren’t some latin cliche, but I asked on my facebook, these were the reasons I was given. So perhaps I can link you up with the people who gave me these reason, and you can take up any disagreement with them.
      Thanks for your comment.

  2. Dear Cheerful Omnivore,

    Your name says it all. You’re cheerful about consuming animals that quite obviously don’t want to be consumed. Seriously, why do you even bother defending animal consumption? A reasonable justification for animal consumption (flesh or secretions) simply does not exist. I’m so very tired of pseudo-intellectuals like yourself rationalizing your selfish, willfully uninformed habits with a bunch of BS arguments backed by no legitimate science. Here’s the thing, Cheerful. You don’t NEED to eat animals or animal by-products in order to get enough protein, iron, calcium, etc. You don’t NEED to eat animals to live a long, healthy life. You know this. In fact, you know that consuming animals is the quickest path to cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, premature aging, etc. You know that vegans get plenty of fiber and consume zero dietary cholesterol. You know that you get insufficient amounts of fiber from animal products and plenty of artery-clogging dietary cholesterol. You probably also know that animal products are acidic. When you consume them, your body leaches calcium phosphate from your bones, uses the phosphate to neutralize the acidity and expels the calcium through urine. As a result, cheerful omnivores need to consume more calcium than vegans, because the calcium you consume from dairy products is not fully absorbed by the body. I’m guessing you insist on cheerfully eating animals because you like the way they taste. That’s it. That’s your only true argument. You cheerfully eat tortured animals because you either: a) don’t care or b) don’t realize the full extent of animal torture occurring on a daily basis.

    Let’s start with birds. Male chicks never become adults. Instead, male chicks slide down a chute into a macerating machine that grinds them alive. Female chickens either spend their lives confined to small cages, unable to even spread their wings, or are kept in large warehouses (“cage free“) where they spend their entire lives in darkness. These are animals that are capable of understanding their place in a pecking order of as many as 90 chickens. Their confined living quarters, however, ensure the collapse of their natural social structures. Chickens are debeaked and their wings are clipped without anesthesia. Every single turkey consumed in America is the result of artificial insemination, as they are too obese to reproduce naturally. Farmers grab the turkeys, turn them upside down, splay their legs and jam a straw-like tool containing semen into their vents. That’s called rape.

    Male piglets are castrated without anesthesia. Sometimes the farmer or factory worker accidentally cuts the piglet open, releasing the piglet’s intestines. The farmer will attempt to stuff the intestines back inside the piglet. If the piglet dies, the farmer removes the intestines and includes them in a gruel they FEED TO THE PIGS. Pigs are also subjected to tail docking, again without anesthesia. Female pigs are not allowed to make nests. They are confined to gestation or farrowing crates.

    A female dairy cow is raped, i.e., artificially inseminated, in order to keep her constantly pregnant. Her udder becomes engorged and infected. When she gives birth, her child is immediately taken from her. Male calves are sent to slaughterhouses, so the mother never has the opportunity to spend any time with her child. Life isn’t much better for cows at the slaughterhouses. When a cow arrives at a slaughterhouse, its horns are cut off with bolt cutters. Legally cows must be stunned prior to slaughter. A metal bolt is injected between the cow‘s eyes. If done correctly the animal dies, but mistakes are common. It is not uncommon for improperly stunned cows to be hoisted upside down and dismembered while fully conscious.

    The aforementioned atrocities merely scratch the surface. Perhaps you are already aware and simply devalue life. The animals that you cheerfully eat suffer because you actually believe animals are subservient to humans. If you did not believe this, then you would not eat them. Do a little research before you post. Oh, and spare me the anticipated retort: “I research the source of my animal flesh/eggs/dairy and only purchase from suppliers who offer free range animal products.” Free range is a misnomer regardless and hardly represents a moral high ground. Killing is killing. So go ahead and hide behind pretentious ten dollar words. Endorse speciesism. It’s between you and your conscience.

    To the OP: Thank you!!

  3. No, thank you! Thank you so much for creating your fantastic blog and being such a strong, impassioned advocate for animals. Having heard my share of stupid statements, I really appreciated your article.

  4. Cheerful Omnivore got owned by Michelle and RedGlitter!
    Whoever made this article is a legend :)

  5. Life feeds on life. Someday, animals will prey on your dead body. We should all respect animals and life, but life will end for all living things. The process of human life requires the consuming of other life.

  6. I still like the whole vegan thing though. We can be a better world if we reduce our exploitation of animals.

  7. Your reasoning behind #16 is severely flawed. While this is “partly” the case (if we did not exist in rural areas, we would be significantly less likely to come across them), these animals are not simply appearing because of over run suburbs; their populations are actually extremely high for what they should be because we had over hunted their natural predators in the past. While we can reintroduce natural predators, this takes longer than the time we hunted them. We are only just barely getting the wolf population over the endangered mark and into the threatened or vulnerable category. I’m sure you’ve heard of what happened in Yellowstone some 80 years ago or so? It’s the same thing across the country. The deer (generally white-tailed) basically have two options: starve during the winter or hunted. I have met and know quite a few hunters and even as a vegan I absolutely have no problem with it. I’ve never met someone who has hunted simply for sport; they use the entire animal, as paleolithic as that might sound. Anyway if you still wish to enrich yourself with propaganda-based material, that is up to you, but if not I can always supplement my reasoning with unbiased scientific articles. Toodles.

  8. Michelle, your response is absolutely amazing!

  9. My brother in law said
    “I don’t understand. Isn’t her dad a preacher so she should know animals were given from God for us to eat”
    He probably hasn’t gone to church in about 15 years…….
    What I don’t get is why people still question me. I never eat meat. When my mom started giving me solids I would refused the meat. So for me to start at 31 trying to eat meat I assume it would be painful and I would get sick.

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