Making the choice to eliminate animal products from your diet can be an empowering and uplifting experience. Not only is it an opportunity to extend your circle of compassion to all beings, it’s a statement and gesture to align your daily choices with your values of environmental and animal care too.

While the energy of living your truth can be motivation to your newfound lifestyle, there are many aspects of the transition that can be a tad of a buzz kill.

From bearing witness to the truth and reality of standard animal agriculture industry practices to navigating the learning curve of fueling your body in a way that leaves you feeling strong and energized, the transition to veganism, at first, can leave you feeling a tad flustered.

Regardless of what motivates your choices, in making the switch to leave animals off your plate, you’re bound to come into conflict with naysayers and resistance. Anywhere from close family members and friends, to the cashier ringing up your groceries at the store, seemingly around every corner you’re likely to be confronted with misinformation and challenges to the vegan diet.

With each conversation, you’ll develop a handful of premeditated responses to some of the most common challenges to choosing to eat veg. At times, they’ll be invitations to disarm an otherwise tense and charged conversation with cleverness and humor, turning a closed dialogue into an open one.

I’m here to arm you with some of these bite size responses to better prepare you for the potential interrogations and objections ahead.

“But…what about protein?”

As a vegan, this is possibly the most common question I get asked. It seems as though as soon as someone learns of your plant-based leanings, they become a health expert!

As the building blocks of cells, thankfully, whatever comes from the ground up provides us with protein.

And the vegans rejoice! Praise plants!

Some great plant protein sources include: rice and beans, nuts, seeds, dark green leafy vegetables, and vegan meat alternatives.

As long as you’re eating enough calories every day, it’s nearly impossible to be protein deficient.

“If we don’t eat animals, the world will starve.”

Actually, to the contrary of that belief, if we discontinued eating animals, we could then redirect the countless resources used to raise them for our consumption. Everything from grazing lands, water and feed crops (predominantly soy and corn that dominant much of our land usage) can be removed and instead utilized to feed much of the world’s hungry.

Eating strictly plants is not only an ethical consideration for the lives of animals, but is also a less resource intensive approach to eating. By choosing veg, we increase our capacity as a species to feed and nourish all.

“Plants feel pain too.”

Let’s watch footage of a slaughterhouse and a video of my garden harvest and we can exchange notes.

“Why don’t you just eat humane meat?”

While these may seem like better options, regardless of the label (free-range/cage-free/etc.) animals raised for food are mutilated, forced into reproduction, are denied to live out their natural processes and ultimately are delivered an unnecessary and premature death.

There is nothing “humane” about the commoditization of living beings.

“I would totally go vegan, but I can’t stand to eat salad.”

If salad were the only thing I consumed, I’d probably feel a tad bored with my food too.

People often make the mistake of believing that in order to eat vegan, one needs to eat the dietary choices of a rabbit.

While it is perfectly acceptable to eat nothing but leaves, thankfully, in today’s abundant vegan product market, literally anything you eat, I can eat vegan too.

From burgers to hot dogs, ice cream and cheese, there’s a vegan specialty product in a grocery store near you that will ease whatever food cravings that may linger from your previous omnivorous days.

A vegan diet is as varied and diverse as there are plants…. and the options are endless!

“Cows want us to milk them. Without us, their utters would burst!”

The first time I heard this, my mouth hung ajar for an exceptionally long time…

Perhaps my experience will help you jump pass the initial shock… this lack of understanding of milk production is a widely held belief.

Mother cows, no different than lactating human mothers, produce food for their offspring. Dairy milk is nature’s perfectly designed formula for growing baby calves.

Mother cows are forcefully inseminated to maintain their calf production and therefore their milk production. Without becoming pregnant or just giving birth, cows cannot produce milk.

It is only as a result of severing the relationship between mother cow and her young that humans are deemed “necessary” to relieve growing pressure in a cow’s udder. Without our disruption, baby calves would achieve this for their mother while nursing.

Cow’s milk is intended for baby cows. Not humans.

“Humans are meant to be carnivores. Just look at these!” (Points to canine teeth.)

Have you ever bitten into a live cow before? I sure hope not, because your smooth, rounded teeth would not be able to withstand its density.

Despite humans’ ego-obsessed narrative of being at the top of the food chain, our teeth, as well as our digestive tracts, are matched to that of omnivorous animals in the wild.

So as much as you may think of yourself to the liking of a lion, you’ll more like a pig.

“What’s next, are you going to tell lions not to hunt gazelles?”

Natural carnivores live in harmony with their food source, living in cycles of death and reproduction so as to never fully deplete their food source. Comparing our relationship to the animals we eat and how we achieve it to theirs is in vein.

But yes, when the lions begin factory-farming gazelles, resulting in disastrous repercussions for the health of the planet and their own, I’ll be sure to start a protest.

“Do you really think your food choices make a difference?”

Yes! The animal agriculture industry, like any other, operates on the principle of supply and demand. Every time you purchase vegan food instead of animal products, you are directly withholding money from the animal agricultural industry.

We have a direct impact every time we sit down for a meal!

You Don’t Need to Have All the Answers

Ultimately, you don’t owe anyone an explanation for living your truth.

But if you feel inspired to educate and inform each time your choices are brought into question, first off…

Relax! In no way are you expected to know all the answers. With time, experience and these very challenges from others, you’ll cultivate knowledge to inform any naysayer.

When in doubt, know that speaking from your own passions and concerns are sufficient enough.

You are the embodiment of your values.

Speaking to your own lived experience, how veganism may have already positively impacted your life and your drive to walk as gently on the Earth as possible are noble and admirable.

By living as a positive example of how one can thrive and honor their beliefs through this lifestyle and ideology, you’re bound to ripple out inspiration to all you encounter.