Friends, acquaintances, and even my own family members often question my whole food plant based diet choices. Eating is very much a social activity and people who deviate from the norm are going to attract attention. I give different answers depending on the person who asks. There are two types:
1. The ones that are genuinely interested and curious, wanting to learn more.
2. The ones that are more critical, convinced it is an unhealthy diet choice, unnatural.
I’ve found answering these questions to be annoying in the past, but now I’ve adopted the attitude that curiosity and interest is a good thing, so I’m open to answering whatever questions come up. I am always hoping to clear up some misconceptions.
Here are some answers I have used in the past in response to the question “So, you don’t eat meat and dairy anymore?”
1. When I want to inspire more critical thinking than simply saying that I like animals, I usually say
“I don’t really see any reason to eat meat or dairy.”
This puts the burden on them to come up with reasons to eat animal proteins. If it seems like they want me to elaborate, I will.
2. Sometimes I ask:
“Do you really want to know?”
because my answers will likely make them uncomfortable.
3. The response I like to give if I know I am being asked about my diet in a nosy, curious, and can’t help themselves manner is:
“I don’t really see a reason not to eat this way.”
They rarely argue with this response.
4. A good response if you are talking to someone who asks “where do you get your protein from?” is:
“Where do cows get their protein from? All food including plants is made up of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins”
5. If they are concerned about carbs making them fat, you can say:
“Carbs don’t make you fat. Processed food makes you fat. Whole food carbs are essential for energy, well-being, satiation, and permanent weight loss. Whole food carbs balance your blood sugar and make you feel good.”
6. This is the response I like to give when they try to tell me that eating meat is natural and since we have been doing it for centuries there is nothing wrong it:
“Your are right. Eating meat was more natural when we had to hunt for it and food was scarce. But now we have an abundance of food and live a sedentary life. We don’t need the extra calories and saturated fat.”
7.And of course, last but not least, my response to the all too common statement: “cheese and bacon taste sooooo good! I could never give it up! How do you live without it?”
“Do you want heart disease? Eating meat and dairy may give you immediate pleasure but they have too much saturated fat. Cheese is addictive. Try a week with out.”
Veganism can seem like a lifestyle that only celebrities, hippies, and health conscious yuppies adopt, but that isn’t true. There isn’t and shouldn’t be a limiting textbook vegan mold. The thing is, you don’t need to drink wheat grass smoothies and detox once a week. You don’t have to do anything that you don’t feel comfortable and happy with, which is something that applies not only to adopting a whole food plant based lifestyle but also to life in general.
Eating a whole food plant based diet is the healthiest diet on the planet but it’s also a hard path to choose. Be proud of yourself for making and sticking to such a hard decision and be confident in your decision because in the end, the only opinions or reasons that really matter are your own.