Six Common Objections to a Vegan Diet that Keep People from Making the Changes They Say They Want to Make

Illustration courtesy of Bizzaro Comics

In developing my new workshop series on Overcoming Objections to a Vegan Diet, I am researching the most common objections out there. Here are six of them with some short responses. More to come in the future.

  1. Habit: “I’m a busy working mom who doesn’t have time to adapt to a whole new way of feeding my family.” Response: Once you get past the initial learning curve, it will become second nature to you. It’s time to break the “hand-me-down” habits we inherit, and replace them with habits aligned with our values of respect for animals, the environment, and our own well-being.
  2. Direct Denial: “I don’t want to know.” Response: Humans are natural truth-seekers. We especially want to know when something is being concealed from us — and why. The truth about eating animals is a classic Matrix challenge. The message of the Matrix is that the truth can be initially painful but is ultimately liberating. For a great perspective on this, see social psychologist Melanie Joy’s presentation.
  3. Pseudo-ethical: “I only buy cage-free eggs.” Response: Is cage-free anything more than marketing hype? A closer examination of the life of cage-free hens reveals  suffering on many levels. Here’s a good overview of so-called “humane” farming.
  4. Convenience: “I don’t see any non-animal-based options where I shop.” Response: Look closer. The options are out there. If you learn more about your true nutritional needs, you might discover that you can fulfill them with what you already eat, minus the meat, dairy, and eggs, and with the addition of a few plant proteins. Check out Norris and Messina’s wonderful plant-based nutrition handbook, Vegan for Life, for answers to all of your health questions.
  5. Culture: “I come from a farming family where these foods are part of our cherished traditions.” Response: Some traditions are better left in the past. Tradition can and has been used to justify every atrocity done to our own kind and to animals alike. 
  6. Nature: “Animals eat other animals.” Response: The animals you refer to are carnivores, while humans are not. So it’s not a just comparison. Besides, why compare ourselves to other animals only when it is convenient to do so? According to this misguided logic, it’s okay to behave like nonhuman animals when it serves to justify our ends. Instead, the power of our free will and our humanity should determine our food choices.

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8 comments

  1. I like the part about the Direct denial and how you compared it to the matrix. Since a lot of people like that, I may have to use that to get people to connect and not be so afraid of the truth :)

  2. it seems that human beings are masters of making excuses for why we cannot do some things which we do not want to do and making justifications for why we need to do things we wish to do, even when it involves the horrific suffering and death to helpless beings. most people are apathetic to the pain of others until they personally experience similar suffering themselves and even then it is difficult for us to make the connection as many humans who belong to groups who are oppressed thoughtlessly oppress non-human animals on a daily basis with their purchases. only a precious few break through the bonds of ignorance and see the light.

    “Under the leadership of Dr. King, I became totally committed to nonviolence, and I was convinced that nonviolence meant opposition to killing in any form. I felt the commandment ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’ applied to human beings not only in their dealings with each other—war, lynching, assassination, murder and the like—but in their practice of killing animals for food and sport. Animals and humans suffer and die alike. Violence causes the same pain, the same spilling of blood, the same stench of death, the same arrogant, cruel and brutal taking of life.”-Dick Gregory

  3. I see the Direct Denial a lot. Unfortunately I can’t keep calm in the face of an allegedly intelligent human being who actively, (un)consciously chooses willful ignorance over enlightenment and I have to change the subject. I’ve tried to get many people to see the Earthlings movie, and so many of them have chosen not to watch any more after seeing some of it, saying that they would “rather not know”. Then they’re off to get their McDonald’s burger. Frustration Is.

  4. This was a really good article. My only issue with it is the illustration. I think it unfairly depicts the meat eating family as heavy, while the vegan is thin. Meat and dairy do contribute to obesity, but being vegan is no guarantee that you will be the only skinny person at the family gatherings. I know quite a few vegans who are heavier than even their meat eating counterparts. I think, for me, I get turned off to some of the vegan culture when they depict themselves as somehow being “better” or “more enlightened” than others. I think it hurts the cause in some cases. It’s just my opinion as a new vegetarian/vegan.

    • Hi Morgen, Point well taken. I agree that we should be conscious of how might insult others when in fact we are trying to engage them!

      • Thanks for letting me voice that here. I think the most important (well, at least one of the top 2 most important) reasons to consider veganism is for better health..whatever our size may be. I come from a family of very thin people with heart disease and high cholesterol. While my health is generally better than theirs in that regard, I’m actually much heavier than the folks in my family. Again, great article and site! I’m reading a lot of the other articles now..

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