10 Rebuttals Every Vegan Should Know

This article was originally published in January, 2015. Enjoy! 

There is no denying that being vegan has some truly positive effects. A vegan diet is clearly better for the animals, it is healthier for the environment, and it has proven to be amazing for the human body. With veganism sounding so marvelous, you would think that everyone would be intrigued by it. However, there are people out there who are not aware of the details and think that vegans are lacking from this lifestyle.

Naysayers will naysay. If you are a plant-based living person or just trying out the lifestyle for Veganuary, I’m sure you are familiar with the objection that you can sometimes get from those around you. People will ask you all sorts of questions from “where do you get your protein?” to “how will you keep your pants up without a leather belt,” and everything in between.

To you, these inquiries may sound ridiculous, and the answer seems apparent, but people who don’t know about a vegan lifestyle may simply want to be informed. Your responses and rebuttals are key to the way that vegans are perceived. It is easy to get in a huff about things, but it is important to also lead by example.

You never know, someone might feel abashed that they are now considering an alternative lifestyle since they have criticized it in the past, so being a non-believer can also be a defense mechanism of sorts. If you rebut in a way that makes being a vegan look downright appealing, you just might have converted someone who is on the fence about making a change. If not, at least you are armed with knowledge and quick countering for when you are put on the spot about your vegan life choices.

Besides, let’s face it, we all know how awkward it can be when you are going about your day and someone asks you something that is completely out of left field. At times when we are not prepared to talk about certain topics, it is almost like we forget what to say. It has happened to all of us, stammering unconvincingly and ineloquently, “we totally do get protein, we get loads of it, we get too much actually.” Instead, remember these top ten rebuttals for commons questions about veganism. It is Veganuary after all, so you might need to use them soon.

1. You can’t possibly get enough protein as a vegan!

I can, and I do. Vegans get protein from plant foods like beans, legumes, lentils, grains like wheat, seeds, quinoa, nuts, and even fruits and vegetables that are high in protein, like avocados. There are also a variety of veggie “meats” that are soy, pea and wheat based and usually contain more protein than animal meat does. For instance, a Tofurky Italian sausage has 29 grams of protein per a 3.5 ounce link. Sausage made from a pig does not measure up at just 5 grams of protein per ounce. When all else fails, vegans can grab a protein bar or protein shake on the go.

2. You must be iron deficient. Where do vegans get iron without eating red meat?

No, since the average adult needs just about 18 milligrams of iron per day, it is easy to get that from vegan sources. Foods that are high in iron content include spirulina, soybeans, pumpkins seeds, spinach, quinoa, molasses, tomato paste, peaches, prune juice, lentils, bagels, chickpeas, swiss chard, potatoes, beans, and the list goes on. However, as a back-up, taking a vegan multivitamin every day can provide that 18 milligrams on those junk food days.

3. Your plant foods and body can’t possibly make everything that you need. What about all of the vitamins and nutrients that can only be found in meat?

Yes it can! Our bodies are incredibly efficient at making whatever we need, lack, or even creating what it needs. However, the vitamins and minerals that our body cannot make on our own, we rely on through diet. Vegan sources of vitamins like B6 are bananas, navy beans and walnuts. Vegan multivitamins are always a good plan B, and there are even vegan supplements for glucosamine. There is not a vitamin, mineral or fatty acid out there that cannot be found through vegan diet or supplementation.

4. No dairy? Not even milk or cheese? Your bones must be brittle from lack of calcium. Don’t fall, you might shatter like glass!

No dairy and we still manage to get enough calcium in our vegan diets. Calcium can be found in many veggie foods, like kale, collard greens, tempeh, turnips and enriched vegan milk. As it happens, most almond, coconut and soy milks provide more calcium than dairy milk, at 45 percent daily value per one cup serving — that is 50 percent more calcium than a cup of cow’s milk. Getting the average 1200 milligrams per day of calcium that your body requires is easy when you are vegan and know what food to eat.

5. You don’t use leather? What about belts and shoes? You must make them yourself on your commune.

It is a common assumption that all belts and dress shoes are made from leather. There are actually really comparable alternatives that are man-made and animal-free. Once only available at specialty vegan shops, now nearly every department store carries a belt, watchband, shoes and wallet that is made without the use of animal products. It is as easy as checking the label.

6. Wait, you eat plants and plants are alive. Not really a vegan are you?

Plants do not have a central nervous system like humans and animals do. They do not run from predators. If an animal is hurt by another it will cry out in pain, it will remember who did that, and it will avoid that person or other animal in the future. This is just absurd, nonetheless it is something vegans hear quite frequently.

7. How can you raise a healthy baby if you are vegan?

Babies are designed to digest their mother’s milk and not a cow’s. In fact, they make soy based (and often these are vegan-friendly) formulas that are made specifically for children who are having trouble digesting cow’s milk proteins, since soy is very gentle on the system. Experts actually recommend limiting dairy milk in a child’s diet as it can lead to iron deficiency. Not only does the dairy make it difficult to absorb iron but it can also lead to a reaction in the human body that causes a small child to lose blood in their intestines and cause a decrease in their iron. A vegan baby is perfectly healthy with breastmilk or vegan formula to start, and then in toddler-hood, they can switch to one of the many vegan milks that are available.

8. All this specialty vegan stuff like “sayyytan” and “temmmpee” must be hard to find. Where is the vegan store anyways?

They’re referring to seitan and tempeh, one of which is made from wheat gluten and the other from cultured fermented soybeans. Although there are many specialty online vegan stores, food is widely available in almost every grocery store, for the plant-based eater. In addition to produce and packaged foods, some might carry tofu, others will have vegan “meats” and other delicacies, but between supermarkets and health food shops, meal options are always available for this lifestyle.

9. How are you wearing makeup if you are vegan? Did you make it yourself out of mud or plants?

No, vegans do not invariably craft their own cosmetics, bath or body products. In actuality, most companies are labeling their makeup and beauty products with not only the bunny symbol to confirm that their products are cruelty free and not tested on animals, but many are also listed as “vegan,” right on the label. All it takes is a moment to glance at the label, browse a vegan beauty products list, or contact the manufacturer yourself.

10. Well, you are just doomed without wool and fur. Good luck freezing in the winter. How ever do you stay warm?

Vegans stay plenty warm. Animals are built by nature with certain features in order to survive their environment. The fur of an animal is for them and not for humans. People have their own system that allows for retaining heat in cold weather. As a species, we have shed our hairy exteriors quite significantly since caveman days, since we are no longer required to live outside. There are also impressive wool and fur substitutes like cotton flannel, polyester fleece, tencel and other breathable and cruelty-free vegan fabrics. Check them out!

Feel free to share this with the naysayers that you know. If they still aren’t satisfied, just point them to this vegan rap song by musician Chokeules.

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash


Yvonne T
Yvonne Tabout a month ago


hELEN h5 months ago


Olivia M
Past Member 5 months ago

thanks for sharing

Richard B
Past Member 5 months ago


hELEN h6 months ago


heather g
heather g6 months ago

I just tell them to check the internet.
Good point, Renata, I'm also aware of that situation. It just shows how uneducated so many people are...

michela c
michela c6 months ago

Already heard, thanks.

Gino C
Past Member 6 months ago

thank you

Renata B
Renata B7 months ago

In 20 years being vegan and 15 more years being vegetarian I have heard them all. I just want to stress that the calcium in the milk for some reactions a scientist can explain to you, doesn't go to fortify your bones, but it attaches to the calcium of your bones and makes it detach. A study carried on in Japan where dairy is used very little (at least was when the study was conducted) has shown that Japanese women in menopause have the lowest rate of osteoporosis! Food for thought.

hELEN h7 months ago