Asking the Wrong Questions

As a vegan, I am endlessly asked questions about my lifestyle. Even though I find them aggravating and tedious to answer over and over again, I always try to stay friendly and informative. After all, while I’ve answered these questions a million times, it may be the first time the person I’m talking to has had the chance to ask anyone.

For example, a coworker asked me roughly, “Isn’t it difficult to be vegan?” Frankly, the answer is no. It might be somewhat challenging to adjust to at first, as any lifestyle change would be. But after a few months it is ridiculously easy. It’s not even something I have to think about. Especially now when there are so very many vegan options available. Even without those “fake” meats and replacement foods, you simply learn about all the naturally vegan dishes other cultures have been enjoying without even thinking to label them “vegan.” It’s just food. People seem to forget that the majority of everyone’s diet, vegan or not, should be mainly fruits, grains, and vegetables anyway.

After getting flustered and anxiously trying to express all of this in a clear concise way, it dawned on my just how irrelevant this question and it’s answer really are. Whether the answer is yes or no ultimately does not matter. The right question is whether or not it’s worth it. No one ever asks that.

I think from now on I am going to start redirecting those who question me toward the more important questions rather than directly answering the ones they ask. Even if veganism was hard, I’d still choose to be vegan. I mean, like I said, it was hard in the beginning and I wasn’t aware back then that it’d get easier. Whether or not it’d be easy had no bearing on my decision to change my life. I changed because it was the right thing to do. It was the only way for me to live in accordance with my morals and core beliefs. It was the only peaceful, compassionate path forward.

How ludicrous it seems to imagine justifying the continued abuse and slaughter of animals because it’s just easier that way. Human beings are always so focused on themselves. It is hard for most non-vegans to wrap their heads around the idea that I would happily “inconvenience” myself, completely change myself and my way of life, in order to save the life of another or even just relieve some their suffering. That’s an easy choice. I’d be vegan even if it only helped a single animal.

Some people even falsely assert, “Those animals are already dead. It won’t change anything whether I order a burger or not.” This also baffles me. Besides being disingenuous (most people understand supply and demand), it simply doesn’t matter if it truly changes the world or not. For instance, just because you don’t abuse children, doesn’t make child abuse disappear. Does that make it okay for me to abuse a child? Even if that particular child will be abused by someone else anyway? Of course not! There are many horrors that exist in our society and in our world. That does not make those horrors acceptable or morally okay.

I could go on to dissect all of the common questions we vegans know so well. In the end, we get so distracted by answering the question, trying to defend our beliefs, making veganism look appealing, and dispelling misconceptions, that we don’t even realize how irrelevant the question and it’s answer really are. In the future I am going to try my hardest to remember this when asked these questions. Rather than rattling off facts and figures that, let’s be honest, are pretty much ignored, I am going to ask my own questions in return.

I hope by doing this, I’ll actually be able to spark some genuine contemplation on the topic. I know my past responses haven’t been making the impact I have hoped. Besides, it’ll be much more interesting for me than repeating the same facts, which fall on deaf ears, again and again.

I’ve never been able to understand why knowing that animals suffer and die isn’t enough for people to be inspired to end that, to stop participating in such cruelty, such violence. It’s really that simple. Suffering, violence, and death are awful. Producing meat and dairy requires violence, suffering, and death. We do not need to consume these things to live or be healthy. That should be all anyone needs to know. That’s all that truly matters.

Cycles

The older I get, the more I realize that everything in life is cyclical. Especially my thoughts. One of the cycles my mind goes through is particularly frustrating to me and I don’t know how to break out of it. Here I am writing about him once again. I don’t expect anyone to really follow what I’m saying since I’m always so vague about who this person is. These posts are just me talking to myself to try to come to some kind of conclusion.

After our last encounter a few months ago, I was ready to finally be done with him for good. Again. I really felt a firm resolve this time, at least at first. But then somehow he always weasels his way back into my daily thoughts. It makes me feel so pathetic. And I hate feeling this way. Maybe I’m just one of those crazy obsessive people. But I’ve never experienced anything close to this with anyone besides him. And that always makes me feel like it means something, that I should listen to these feelings.

I’ve started thinking that maybe I overreacted to his decision that he’d rather be friends than anything romantic. It still truly stings me to the quick to know that he feels that way. However, isn’t friends better than nothing at all if I truly do love him? Real love should be humble and expect nothing in return. It should be enough just to love him and have him in my life. Even though those feelings aren’t reciprocated.

It is difficult for me to refuse the chance to know him. I don’t know why, but nobody ever makes me really feel anything. There are very few instances when I am actually excited to talk to someone. But even thinking about him makes me feel instantly more alive. I feel engaged and present and happy. I just truly feel.

Maybe I am being selfish for wanting more than he’s willing to give me. I should be grateful he’d even want to be my friend. I’ve just never really had guy friends and I don’t understand how to do that exactly. I am so afraid that if I invite him back in I will only be setting myself up for more heartbreak. Yet at the same time I feel such a strong connection to him, and even if it isn’t the same for him, I cherish that feeling. It is one of the most real things I’ve ever experienced.

I guess in the end it comes down to what I am willing to risk. Is it worth it to risk intense pain for a soft, but deep pleasure? Will that pain slowly outweigh any happiness I could obtain? I don’t know the answers to these questions. I never do. And maybe that’s the point. I can’t know. But I still have to make a choice.

And that is the cycle I am currently trapped within. I hurt. I’m angry. I hate him. I’m done with him. I miss him. I love him. I should be grateful for whatever I’m given. I am able to choose something over nothing. I feel like that makes me a pathetic, desperate person. I’ll look like a fool. It will only cause me more pain I feel sorry for myself. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I move past this? I hurt. I’m angry. I hate him… And so it goes. Round and round in my head. I hope that one day it will stop and this devoted heart of mine will set me free. As for now I guess I’ll just keep letting it spin.

Helpful Vegan Handout

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If you are vegan, then I am sure you are tired of the idiotic questions we are asked on a daily basis by family, friends, and even strangers. Granted, some are questions that I had myself before reading more about the lifestyle and experiencing it for myself. Nonetheless, they are extremely annoying and tiresome to have to go over countless times with people who seem to think their “clever” questions will show you that you need meat or other animal products in your diet. It is quite frustrating, so I wanted this post to be  a quick Q&A sheet that you may hand out to the non-vegans in your life so you will no longer have to deal with that hum of irritating questions. Here we go.

1. Q: Where do you get your protein? 

A: As the chart below shows, vegans and vegetarians have no problem with protein. In fact you may want to worry a little bit more about if you are getting enough protein. Oh, and also did you know that cooking meat cuts the amount of protein your body can use from it in half? Yeah. Seems like vegans are getting more protein now, doesn’t it?

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2. Q: Where do you get your calcium?

A: There are plenty of vegan calcium options. The foods listed in the image below along with many other sources provide more calcium for far less calories. And once again, if you are worried about the strength of our bones, maybe you should be more concerned about your own. Dairy products aren’t natural, so our bodies struggle to digest them, hence why there are so many people who are lactose intolerant. In order for our bodies to break these things down they must use the calcium we already have in our bodies. In the end, we have less calcium then before we drank that milk. I guess vegans get more calcium than meat-eaters too.

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3.  Q: Humans are omnivores though, right?

A: In fact, no. No, we are not. The oh, so common childish excuse that we have canine teeth isn’t going to cut it anymore. Despite the fact that this doesn’t matter because even if we were it wouldn’t justify us massacring and torturing others species with no physical need, are canines are actually meant for protection. They are far different than the canines of carnivores and omnivores. If you tried to bite into the hide of a cow, (surprise, surprise) you would not be able to. Not only that, other parts of our bodies say otherwise as well. The structure of our jaws, facial muscles, and intestines do not match those of omnivores either.  We are classified as frugivores. This means we are meant to eat fruits, vegetables, and nuts as the chart below demonstrates. Try arguing with those facts. (I’m sure you will.)

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4. Q: Why not just be vegetarian?

A: Well, apart from all of the other evidence that we are not intended to eat any type of animal product and they are detrimental to our health, vegetarianism just doesn’t cut it. It is nice to think you are saving animals by not devouring their flesh, but contributing to the dairy industry is just as cruel. Cows and chickens experience unimaginable suffering for their milk and eggs. In order to acquire a cows milk, a farm must get rid of its intended recipient, the baby cow. This is a horribly painful experience for the new mother and her child and happens countless times within the cows lifespan before she too is killed for her meat. As for chickens, they are packed into tiny cages sometimes with multiple chickens in one cage. They have their claws and beaks clipped off so that they cannot peck one another to death in response to such close conditions. Even in “free-range” farms, chickens are only given up to three feet of space each. And once again, once a chicken can no longer lay eggs, it will be killed. We must protect animals from not only their demise, but their torture and abuse as well.

5. Q: How do you go out to restaurants?

A: It’s easy. If you are lucky, there may be vegan restaurant options in the area. If not, there is always something on the menu that is vegan or can be made vegan, even if it has to be a salad. If eating a fancy, high-calorie meal that will last 20min. is more important to you than the entire life of another being, then you may have some issues. Self-control is an important part of life, get used to it.

6. Q: How are you helping the environment?

A: The meat and dairy industry is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock are also responsible for 64% of anthropogenic ammonia emissions, which contribute significantly to acid rain and the acidification of ecosystems. Factory farming also is responsible for the largest sectoral source of water pollution, contributing to eutrophication, “dead” zones in coastal areas, the degradation of coral reefs, human health problems, the emergence of antibiotic resistance and many others. Also, the need for pasture and feed-crop land is resulting in more and more deforestation. 70% of previously forested land in the Amazon is now occupied by pastures. This is an unreasonable amount of harm being caused to our environment by something that is so unnecessary for our health or survival and is even detrimental to both. Veganism could also aid in ending world hunger as less farm animals would allow large amounts of grain to be used to feed the starving people of the world.

 “[T]hose who claim to care about the well-being of human beings and the preservation of our environment should become vegetarians for that reason alone. They would thereby increase the amount of grain available to feed people elsewhere, reduce pollution, save water and energy, and cease contributing to the clearing of forests.…[W]hen non-vegetarians say that ‘human problems come first’ I cannot help wondering what exactly it is that they are doing for human beings that compels them to continue to support the wasteful, ruthless exploitation of farm animals.” — Peter Singer, Animal Liberation, 1990

7. Q: What if you are an athlete?

A: Veganism does not hinder your physical abilities in any way. In fact, veganism has helped improve the performance of many professional athletes and bodybuilders. The man in the photo below is vegan. He won the German log lift title for the fourth time in a row in 2012, and set a keg lift world record (115kg). He took the European Powerlifting title in Finland, and set a world record for fronthold by holding a 20kg weight for 86 seconds. A vegan diet has also helped ultramarathon runner Scott Jurek do better than he ever had previously in his 100-mile races, soaring above and beyond his competitors. If you are an athlete, maybe you should do yourself a favor.

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8. Q: But what about bacon?

A: Such an infuriating question. What about it? There are endless vegan versions of bacon that are just as delicious. You can buy them or you can even make them yourself. Also, bacon is horrible for you. I recommend developing some sense of self-control instead of killing pigs so that you can kill yourself for one moment of flavor.

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9. Q: Isn’t being vegan expensive?

A: It certainly doesn’t have to be. There are many pricey vegan alternative food options on the market, but they are not a staple for most vegans. All you need to do is buy fruits, vegetables, pastas, tofu, and grains. Once you figure our some recipes and what you need to have around the house, it can be even more affordable than a non-vegan diet. Milk and “fresh” meats are raising in price. Save yourself some money. Go vegan!

10. Q: Isn’t being vegan inconvenient? 

A: It can seem that way at first if you are in an area without many vegan outlets. However, once you get used to it, not at all. Knowing what you can and can’t eat becomes second-nature. You become exposed to the many others options there are around you besides meat and dairy, and trust me, there are a lot.

 

Well, I hope this will help all of you out there to better understand veganism and why it is the right choice for the animals, the planet, and your body. I also hope it can aid my fellow vegans in answering these mind-numbing questions again and again. So read up and pass it on! And don’t froget to stay peaceful. ❤