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Good Answers for Annoying Questions About Your Vegetarian Diet

Updated on March 1, 2012

"But what do you EAT?" This might be one of the most annoying questions I've heard when telling someone that I'm a vegetarian. Whether you are following a vegetarian diet for the sake of the animals, to be more healthy, for religious reasons, or because you simply hate the taste of meat, here are some easy answers to give to people who ask rude or ignorant questions or who simply want more information.

If you don't eat meat, what DO you eat?

Although meat is a major food group in many countries, it is certainly not the only one. Unfortunately, people who grew up eating meat as a main dish for every single meal may forget all the other options we have. To answer this question without having to worry about a follow-up question, simply overwhelm whoever you're talking to with information! By the time you're done listing your favorite foods, snacks and desserts, they will wonder why they even thought to ask this question in the first place!

Sample response:

"Let's start with breakfast. Today, I had a piece of toast with jelly, a glass of apple juice, two biscuits and side of scrambled eggs. Yesterday I had pancakes, coffee and a glazed donut. For lunch, I usually start with a piece of fruit..." Basically, you eat anything that isn't a dead animal.

How on earth do you get your protein?

Since many people who ask this question are genuinely concerned, use this as a chance to educate them. There are many ways to get protein other than eating meat. Even vegans, who don't consume any animal product (including eggs and milk) can get well above the recommended daily amount of protein. Whole grains, beans, legumes, certain vegetables, sesame seeds, seaweed, eggs, peanut butter, and milk all have enough protein to provide someone on a vegetarian diet with everything they need.

Sample response:

"Based on my size, I need to get 50 grams of protein a day. I get about a fourth of it through eggs and the rest through vegetables and nuts. I usually end up eating even more than the minimum amount."

Are you sure you're being healthy?

Many recent studies show that a vegetarian diet is actually healthier than one that includes meat. Meat contains many chemicals and growth hormones, along with cholesterol and fat, that make it very unhealthy. This is especially for people who over-do their meat consumption. As long as you get enough protein (see above), you should not worry about any problems that a lack of animal problems will cause to your health. Just make sure you fill up on healthy vegetarian foods! It can be easy to eat junk food all day (for both carnivores and non-meat eaters).

Sample response:

"As long as you eat healthy foods, being vegetarian is actually better for you than eating meat is. My doctor says I'm in perfect health."

You have to eat meat while you're pregnant! Will you let your kids eat meat?

For the first part of this question, the answer is an obvious NO. Doctors do not encourage vegetarians to eat meat during their pregnancies for many reasons, partially because starting a new diet can intensify morning sickness, and mainly because it isn't necessary. It's important to eat enough protein when you are with child, but as stated earlier, there are many ways to get enough protein without touching anything that came from an animal.

The second part is a matter of opinion. Whether you choose to allow your children to eat meat or not is part of your parenting style and doesn't affect anyone else, so if the person you are speaking to starts to lecture you about your choices, remind them that you have your child's best interest at heart and would never do anything that could hurt them.

Sample response:

"My OBGYN has no problem with my diet. I would never make my children unhealthy, and I've already discussed their eating habits with their pediatrician."

You're missing out. When are you going to try eating meat again?

Eating meat is not necessary for survival, in fact, in some areas people go through their whole lives without touching it. So, why should you eat it? Going vegetarian is a personal choice and one that people should not interfere with. As long as you don't push your beliefs on them, make sure that they know you are budging in yours.

Sample response:

"You're missing out too! When are you going to go vegetarian?" Or, if you know that they aren't trying to be rude, simply inform them that you feel much better on a meat-free diet and you plan to stay that way.

Why don't you eat meat? God put animals here for us to eat.

This is one question that you'll have to answer yourself. Give some thought to why you don't eat meat. Do you love animals? Hate the taste of meat? Want to get in better shape? Remember that no matter what your reason is, you have the right to choose your own diet, and you should never let someone talk you into anything you aren't comfortable with. As for the "God wants us to eat meat/Jesus ate fish" argument, tell them that your eating habits are based solely on your own choices, not anyone elses.

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I hope these tips help you the next time you get into an awkward conversation about your vegetarian diet. Remember that you can personalize them for your own situation. Or, if someone is being blatantly rude, you can choose not to say anything. You never have to explain yourself when you don't feel a need to.


Also, please don't force your beliefs onto any meat-eaters, either! This gives a bad name to all vegetarians and baits some of the rude questions. Mutual respect is the key for everyone to get along.

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    • LMSommerauer profile image

      Lindsay Sommerauer 4 years ago from London, ON

      This is useful - I've come up with some pretty standard responses in my four years as a vegetarian, too, but it's good to put it out therefore other people to use, so thanks for writing this!

      And I second your final thought - the last thing vegetarians need is a bad rep from some people trying to impose their choices on others. Although, I know from experience that it's really hard not to do this, particularly as a new veggie, between feeling as though you've had this great epiphany, and thus not understanding how it's possible that others haven't had it, especially when you tell them all the things you've learned that changed your mind, and all the things that are so much better in your life since making the switch... Unfortunately, I think it's usually only in hindsight that we realize that everyone has to go through those sorts of life changes at their own pace, with their own triggers, and on their own terms. All we can do is be open, reasonable, and honest in our conversations with those who ask, and encourage those who decide to try it!

    • carolinekirby profile image
      Author

      carolinekirby 5 years ago from Indianapolis, IN

      Thank you all for your comments and support!

    • Drax profile image

      des donnelly 5 years ago from NYC....

      great article thanks :-)

    • CreateSquidoo profile image

      CreateSquidoo 5 years ago

      I want to be a Vegetarian when a reach 30 years old.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Great responses to those questions from carnivores who can't understand vegetarianism....Voted UP and USEFUL.

      ErvinVictor...I, too, love coffee and don't drink it black. I shake a carton of vanilla almond "milk" and pour enough into my hot coffee that it's cafe au lait, and it's delicious. A nice side effect is the shaking causes bubbles to form on the top, kind of like cappuchino. Why don't you try combining almond milk with your half-and-half, then gradually take away the half-and-half (which may be increasing your cholesterol level anyway).

    • ErvinVictor profile image

      ErvinVictor 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Nice reading. I've been a vegetarian for several months now, and as each days passes, I realize that I'm just fine without meat. I've always said that I loved animals, but I kinda felt like a hypocrite eating meat. And, really, I feel so much better, and I've lost about 10 pounds since I quit meat (well, I also cut way down on fried food and junk food). If not for the fact that I'm hopelessly addicted to coffee and love half & half, I might be able to go vegan. Alas...

    • adrienne2 profile image

      Adrienne F Manson 5 years ago from Atlanta

      These are some great responses to questions I have heard way to many times. The annoying part is its the same family members asking me questions about the why this and that. I love the answers you give, and deceided to stop even saying anything about not wanting to eat anything that was once living. Voted up and very useful!

    • Peanutritious profile image

      Tara Carbery 5 years ago from Cheshire, UK

      Great hub! I've not eaten Meat or Fish for almost 30 years now and my health couldn't be better. People are so annoying the way they question you about your choice. I don't go round asking them why they eat meat!

    • profile image

      Flickr 5 years ago

      Love it. Proud vegetarian, well 99% of the time. Great article, it gives a passive view of answering questions pertaining what you can do towards becoming a vegetarian and simple responses and thoughts as to should we eat meats or vegetables? Thanks for the read, socially shared this with others.

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I am a vegetarian (19 years now) and have heard ALL of these questions/"concerns" countless times. I think it's a combination of people anticipating (incorrectly) that I'm going to lecture them about eating meat, or that they have some deep-seated regret about liking meat themselves. At any rate, your responses are all indubitably reasonable, and I will be borrowing them!