33 Lame Excuses from Meat Eaters, and How You Can Respond

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33 Lame Excuses from Meat Eaters, and How You Can Respond

As a vegan, you inevitably will get asked by your friends or family or sometimes even by strangers why you choose to go vegan. This supposedly simple question often gives rise to heated discussions. The other person may feel attacked and starts inventing excuses on why he or she still eats meat or other animal products even though they are aware of the horrors of the animal industry. This article is meant to give you a little help to be able to react appropriate to the most common statements and excuses from meat eaters.

Especially at the beginning of your vegan life it is difficult to react to these – often provocative – statements and excuses from meat eaters. It can be hard to argue and to convince the other person of your point of view.

It is Difficult to Convince Other People

I know that all too well myself. When I made the decision to live vegan from now on, it kind of clicked. Everything suddenly made sense and I felt like I had just made the best decision of my life. And then someone comes and asks: “If you don’t want to eat meat, why do you eat stuff that looks and tastes like meat? After all I don’t create a cucumber out of meat.” Or someone brings the classic quote: “Plants have feelings, too!”.

These statements are meant to provoke. But the slightly aggressive undertone always brought me to a standstill, at least at the beginning. Such statements pulled me down and made me feel like shit, especially when they came from close relatives or friends. But at some point it became clear to me that these are just excuses from meat eaters that are desperately trying to justify their unethical decisions. Even though they know that what they are doing is wrong. This is called cognitive dissonance.

Lame Excuses from Meat Eaters

I was often desperate because my friends and family, otherwise loving and compassionate people, closed their eyes to the horrible fate and injustice that the animals experience every day.

I had seen all the videos from slaughterhouses and was aware of the horror. Therefore, I could not understand how my friends one the one hand side said they were against animal cruelty and factory farming and on the other hand side ate their schnitzel or sausage every day without any worries.

I have had countless conversations and discussions about veganism. In the beginning only with friends and family. Later also with strangers while doing outreach at some Cubes of Truth of Anonymous for the Voiceless. And the statements and excuses from meat eaters that I heard were always the same.

Excuses lead to a Fight

Counterquestions Instead of Counterattack

Rather than answer the excuses from meat eaters with arguments and take a defensive stand, I learned to ask counterquestions. This forces the other person to think about his or her statement. And people are far more open when you listen to them attentively, instead of just bringing your own counterattacks.

Most people know that their values and actions don’t align, at least subconsciously. It is much more effective when a person comes to this point all by him- or herself rather than being pointed out by someone else. Otherwise he or she most likely reacts defensively or defiantly. But it’s hard to defend yourself against your own arguments.

The Change Must Come from Within

I myself was no different. If 2 years ago someone had told me: “Vegetarians are also murderers”; I would probably have reacted defensively and taken a big bite from my cheese sandwich. When you realize that your own values and actions don’t align, you feel cornered when someone else points that fact out to you.

I was lucky that the person talking to me about the milk and egg industry at that time never accused me of anything but instead gave me ways to inform myself. She talked without condemning me, but instead only asked me some simple questions. The rethinking process started all by itself afterwards.

The 33 Most Common Excuses from Meat Eaters

To help you do the same, I have compiled a list of the 33 most common and provocative excuses from meat eaters. I will show you ways you can answer these statements with counterquestions or fair arguments. But beware: the counterquestions can also be perceived as provocative. So decide individually, depending on the person you are talking to, which answers to use.

1. Eating Animal Products is my Personal Choice

  • What about the personal decision of the animal that wants to live? Have you considered his decision?
  • If someone makes the personal decision to mistreat a dog, is it morally acceptable because it was his personal choice?
  • Is it morally justifiable to rape just because the rapist personally made the decision to commit the rape?
  • Is it okay for a killer to kill someone because it was his personal choice?

2. I Love Animals

  • Do you really love animals when you pay someone to hurt or kill them?
  • Would you also say, “I love my children and I also beat them”?
  • Do you have a pet? Would it be possible for you to love your dog and then murder and eat it?
Animal Lover

3. I Like the Taste of Meat

  • What food is ever worth taking the life of an individual?
  • Don’t you think we need more than just palate pleasure to morally justify an act?
  • Is it morally acceptable for someone to kill a dog if that person likes the taste?
  • What is so special about man that our taste buds are more valuable than the life of an animal?
  • Is the action of a mass murderer morally justifiable when he says, “I have so much fun and enjoy killing”?
  • Do you think you have to give up the taste of animal products when going vegan? Today there is a huge and varied selection of vegan alternatives to cheese, milk, egg and meat. As a vegan you can still eat burgers, hot dogs, lasagna, cheese pizza, cakes, biscuits and ice cream.
  • As a vegan you can still experience all the tastes and consistencies you were used to, with the only difference that they are made of plants. No dead body parts, no cartilage, no cholesterol, no hormones, no antibiotics.

4. Animals Eat Other Animals, too

  • Wild animals also kill each other. Does that mean it’s morally acceptable for people to kill each other?
  • Animals kill their own food. They don’t pay for someone else to do it for them.
  • Carnivores like lions need to eat meat to survive. Do you need to eat meat to survive? If you don’t need to, why do you do it?
Excuses from meat eaters: Lions eat meat, too

5. We Must Eat Animal Products to Stay Healthy

  • On the contrary. Did you know that the consumption of animal products has been inextricably linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, many forms of cancer, stroke, high blood pressure, dementia and osteoporosis through numerous studies? And did you know that many of these diseases can be treated and even cured by switching to a plant-based diet?
  • There are many vegan athletes all over the world, including Germany’s strongest man Patrick Baboumian, NFL players like David Carter and weightlifters like Kendrick Farris and boxers like David Haye. How can these athletes stay so fit if we need animal products to stay healthy?
  • Then how can it be that both the American and the British Dietetic Association, the largest associations of nutrition experts in these countries, have declared that a vegan diet is suitable for all stages of life, including childhood and pregnancy?

6. Eating Meat is Part of Our Tradition and Culture

  • Just because we have done something for many years or even centuries, does that justify its existence and continuation? Slavery, racial segregation and the oppression of women were once regarded as a tradition and part of culture. Is that why we should stick to these practices?
  • Bullfights are considered a strong part of the tradition in Spain, as is the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji or the dog meat festival in Yulin. Does this mean that these things should continue to exist because it is part of the culture?
Excuses from meat eaters: Eating Meat is a Tradition

7. Our Ancestors Ate Meat

  • We originated from primates that have survived through a diet consisting mainly of fruits, nuts, leaves and insects. But our food has changed and developed because the environment in which we live has changed and developed.
  • Eating animals has helped our ancestors to survive in a time of food shortage. But are we still suffering from food shortages in our country today?
  • If it is morally acceptable to eat animals because our ancestors did it, would it not mean that it is morally acceptable to kill each other because our ancestors did it?

8. Our Brains Have Evolved by Eating Meat

  • Even if that is true, it is no longer relevant in today’s society. Or do you think your brain evolves every time you eat a Big Mac?
  • An alternative theory is that our brain developed after the discovery of fire because we could now eat cooked starchy foods and foods with a higher carbohydrate content. Our body converts these carbs into readily available sugars – food for our brain. The high sugar requirement of our brain cannot be covered by a diet with a low carbohydrate content (meat).
Excuses from meat eaters: Our Brain evolved because of meat

9. If we stop eating animals, they would overpopulate, or they would die out

  • Do you seriously think that’s realistic? The world will not become completely vegan overnight, but this will instead be a gradual process over a long period of time.
  • Animal husbandry is based on the system of supply and demand. When we buy products, we help to ensure that more of these products are made available. Farmers only breed as many animals as they can sell. So what are they going to do when it’s not worth it?
  • Did you know that industrial animal husbandry is the main cause of the greatest mass extinction in the last 65 million years? Now that you know that and you’re worried about species extinction, shouldn’t you be living vegan?

10. Human Rights are More Important than Animal Rights

  • Did you know that 82% of starving children live in countries where food is grown that is fed to livestock in richer countries. Becoming vegan could end this unjust distribution of food.
  • Don’t you think it’s funny that we have enough food to feed 56 billion land animals every year and yet 800 million people live in famine?
  • Why does the fact that there are homeless people or starving children make it acceptable for you to pay someone to kill and slaughter animals?
Excuses from meat eaters: Starving Child exist

11. Plants Have Feelings, too

  • A plant has no central nervous system, pain receptors and a brain. Thus, anatomically speaking, a plant does not have the ability to feel pain. Or when was the last time you heard a potato scream when you cut it up?
  • If you care so much about plants: Are you aware that it takes up to 16 kg of plants to produce 1 kg of meat?
  • If a dog jumps in front of your car, would you dodge into a flower bed or run over the dog?

12. Animals Don’t Feel Pain and Suffering the Way We Do

  • Animals, both land animals and fish, have a nervous system and are therefore able to feel physical pain.
  • Have you ever stepped on the tail of a dog before? Do you think the dog was in pain or not?
  • It is well documented that animals experience emotional suffering just like humans do. Mother cows mourn their kidnapped baby for days. Orcas were watched grieving for their abducted offspring and animals like dogs suffer from separation anxiety when their master leaves them alone. Do you still think animals don’t feel pain?

13. That’s the Food Chain

  • In nature, food chains exist because they must exist. The predator must kill its prey to survive. Do you have to kill someone to survive?
  • We breed animals selectively, fertilize them artificially, drive them around in trucks and have them slaughtered and dismembered by a fully automated machine. Is that what you think a natural food chain looks like?
  • So you’re saying, “power means right”. In your eyes, is it morally acceptable for us to enslave and exploit others because we have the physical ability to do so?

    Every cruelty committed by man is based on the illusion of self-assigned power; be it Nazis who believed they were superior to Jews, white people who believed they were superior to black people, a religion which believes it is superior to another religion, or people who believe they are superior to animals.

14. We’re Smarter than Animals.

  • Does intelligence define the value of a life?
  • So is your life worth more than that of a mentally handicapped person or a child as you are smarter than them?
  • If intelligence means dominance, does it mean that any person with a high IQ can do whatever he wants to a person with a low IQ?
  • A pig has the same cognitive abilities and intelligence as a three-year-old child. Does this mean that from now on you will eat toddlers instead of pigs?

15. Without Us the Animals Would Not Live at All, They Should Be Grateful to Us

  • Do you think you could go into a slaughterhouse, look an animal in the eye right before it is killed, and tell it to thank you for its life?
  • If I breed a dog and then abuse and kill it, am I a good person because this dog would not have been born without me?
  • If a child is born into a violent family where it is beaten regularly, never gets food and eventually dies because of all the abuse, would you think, “Well, at least the child’s parents gave him the chance to live.”?

16. Can’t We Just Improve the Lives of Animals

  • Do you think the animals, which are kept on a small, regional farm and have a beautiful life, are petted to death?
  • Don’t you think the happy animals are even more attached to their lives?
  • Do you also demand that dogs be better kept in dog meat factories in China and killed in a more humane way? Would a golden retriever steak with an animal welfare label be acceptable to you?
Idyllic Farm

17. We Stun the Animals Before We Kill Them so They Won’t Feel a Thing

  • Did you know that many animals fail to be anaesthetized and are fully conscious when they bleed out and are cut open?
  • Can we kill an animal in a humane way?

  • Jeffrey Dahmer was a serial killer who drugged his victims before he killed them. His victims did not suffer and felt no pain. Does this mean that he was a good person who cared for the welfare and humane treatment of his victims?

18. Morality is Subjective

  • Then ask yourself, “Would I want that inflicted on me? If not, what right do I have to do it to others?”
  • If morality is subjective, what sense does our legal system have? Any behavior would be acceptable, wouldn’t it?
  • Would it be acceptable if I beat and kill a dog because I think it is morally correct?

19. 100% Vegan Does Not Work

  • Imagine a coastguard watching a group of children drown, but it is not possible to save them all in time. Should they turn around and let everyone drown because they can’t save 100%? Or should they at least try to save some kids?
  • It is perfectly true that it is almost impossible to be 100% vegan in this world. But do you think you should only do things that you can do 100%? Veganism is about keeping the damage done to animals as small as possible. It’s not about being perfect.
  • Is there a moral difference between animals killed accidentally in food production and an animal deliberately killed in a slaughterhouse?
100 Percent

20. I Only Eat Very Few Meat

  • It’s fantastic that you’ve reduced the consumption of animal products. What triggered you to reduce your meat consumption?
  • Have you ever thought about that you still pay for animals to be exploited and slaughtered – even if you consume less than before?
  • This is a good first step, but do you think that the animal that died for your Sunday roast is grateful to you for eating less meat? The animal is still dead, its life is still over, and no moderation or reduction changes this fact.

21. What If You Were Stranded on a Desert Island?

  • If you were living in a society where there is plenty of food and you just have to go to any supermarket to find an abundance of vegan products. Why do you allow the planet to be destroyed, the unnecessary slaughter of innocent animals, starving children and your own health to continue to decline if it is completely unnecessary?
  • Due to the exploding number of vegans stranding on deserted islands, there will soon be vegan supermarkets.
Deserted Island

22. Isn’t It Enough to Be Vegetarian?

  • What do you think happens to the male calves in the dairy industry?
  • What happens to male chicks in egg production? They don’t give eggs and they’re not suitable for meat production.
  • Don’t you think it’s funny that we adults still drink breast milk? And the milk of another species, too? Would you ever suck on a cow’s udder yourself or would you ever drink pig milk or dog milk?

23. Hitler Was Vegetarian

  • Hitler was also a man. Do you think it is reasonable to judge a complete population group based on the act of one individual?
  • Stalin and Mussolini ate meat. Therefore all meat eaters are dictators?
  • Did you know that Hitler wasn’t a real vegetarian at all? This was only distributed for PR purposes by Göbbels in order to make Hitler appear more sympathetic.

24. The Farmers Would Lose Their Jobs

  • Are you worried about the jobs of the slaughterhouse staff, too?
  • But do you think that money and jobs are more important than the lives of animals and the future of our planet?
  • Would you encourage someone to smoke cigarettes just because the tobacco farmers and the people who work in the cigarette industry could lose their jobs? Why do you think the jobs of livestock farmers are more important than those of tobacco farmers?
  • You’re right. We must consider the livelihoods of farmers. They are often born into agriculture, know no other way of life and have never questioned the morality of what they do. The farmers are doing a job that’s being asked of them. They fulfil the wishes of consumers. But do you think that the efforts a farmer has to make to find a new job are worse than a life full of suffering and fear that the animals have to endure in agriculture?

25. Soy Farming Destroys the Rainforest

  • You’re right, soy farming is very harmful to the environment. But did you know that 85% of the grown soy is fed to animals? The soy that is used in vegan meat substitutes in Germany comes from European farms.
  • Are you aware that the soy that is produced for food is predominantly used in non-vegan foods? It is found in cereals, processed foods, breads, sauces, mayonnaise, meat products, chocolate and sweets.
  • Did you know that every second one or two hectares of rainforest are cleared for animal husbandry? Soy for vegan meat substitutes, on the other hand, comes from the EU.
Excuses from meat eaters: Soy destrois the rain forest

26. It’s too Limiting to be Vegan

  • Isn’t it rather very restrictive to always eat the same 4-5 animals?
  • Do you know Jackfruit, Lupinen, Tempeh or Seitan? How can you live without these foods?
  • Since becoming a vegan, I’ve been eating a much larger and more varied range of foods than I’ve ever done before. I am now cooking with ingredients I’ve never heard of before.
  • As a vegan you can still eat pizza, spaghetti Bolognese, burgers and co. with the difference that they are now made from plants.

27. Being Vegan is Extreme

  • You find it extreme to eat fruits and vegetables?
  • Isn’t it much more extreme to eat corpses that are sometimes weeks old?
  • How can a vegan diet be extreme if it consists of eating foods that cure or prevent diseases?
  • Don’t you think it’s extreme to kill someone just because you like the taste of their legs?

28. Vegan is Expensive.

  • When you go to a supermarket, the most expensive foods tend to be meat and cheese. The cheapest foods like beans, rice, potatoes, noodles, lentils and vegetables are vegan.
  • It’s true: vegan meat substitutes can be expensive. However, this is due to small productions, mostly in organic quality and state subsidies for meat and milk production. When more people become vegan and buy these vegan products, they also become cheaper.
  • Have you ever wondered how much your bad health will costs you due to excessive consumption of animal products?
Excuses from meat eaters: Vegan is expensive

29. Why Do Vegans Eat Stuff that Looks Like Meat?

  • Do you season, marinate and fry your meat? Why shouldn’t vegans be allowed to do the same with tofu?
  • I didn’t go vegan because I no longer liked the taste of animal products. So why should I give up this taste if no more animals have to suffer for it?
  • Why do you press meat in the form of a cucumber and call it sausage?

30. One Person Alone Can’t Make a Difference

  • Are you going to vote? Why do you do that when one person can’t change anything?
  • Do you know the principle of supply and demand? Every time we buy vegan products, we change the demand and vote for the kind of world we want to have.
  • What would have happened if Mandela, Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King had said something like that? Sometimes it only takes one person to make a difference and inspire thousands.
  • If everyone had always had the attitude that a person could do nothing, there would still be slavery and apartheid. It was precisely because individuals who presented a minority at that time were involved and spoke out against the injustices that change was brought about. It is now up to us to do exactly the same to save the animals, the planet and indeed ourselves.

31. God Allowed Us to Eat Animals.

  • If Jesus and the devil were locked in a room with a lamb, which of them would kill the lamb?
  • Do slaughterhouses look like the work of God or the work of the devil?
  • If we don’t have to kill God’s creatures to survive, don’t you think a kind, compassionate God would prefer us not to?
  • Using a religious belief to justify killing animals is exactly the same as using this belief to oppress homosexuals or women.
Excuses from meat eaters: God allowed us to eat meat

32. Animals are Bred for this Purpose

  • Does this mean that dog fights are moral because these animals were bred for this purpose?
  • In Africa, lions are bred so that big-game hunters can shoot them. Is the hunter therefore a morally acting human being, because the animal was bred for shooting?

33. Eating Meat is in Our Nature

  • Would you kill an animal yourself or would you find that disgusting or traumatizing? If it were in our nature to eat meat, we would have no problem killing an animal.
  • Have you ever seen an animal being hit by a car? Did the sight of your torn organs make your mouth water? No? A real meat eater would strike at once.
  • Imagine being locked in a room with a live chicken and an apple. What would you eat first? When we see a prey animal, we don’t feel hungry. We have no hunting instinct at all.
  • If it were natural to eat meat, wouldn’t we teach our children to kill when they are young, like predators do with their young?
Excuses from meat eaters: Our Ancesors ate meat

I hope I was able to help you with this article in dealing with the provocative excuses from meat eaters. Write me a comment and tell me which excuses from meat eaters you encountered already.

Find more interesting blog posts in section “Why Vegan?” and “Vegan Life”.

  1. Aloha~ I am a devoted vegan & a vegan educator. Thank you for this compilation of excuses & brilliant responses!
    I really appreciate it! Thank you for being my Vegan Kindred Spirits!

    1. Thank you for your kind words ? I am really happy that you liked it!

    2. Aloha Imke~
      Thank you for your reply. I really like your use of counter questions? That is a brilliant approach! Kudos to You!
      I am a dedicated vegan & vegan educator. I am currently writing my 2nd book. My first, nearly 600 page book entitled, Feel Good Now~ How to Feel Your Best & Have Your Best to Give is on Amazon & Kindle Ebook. It includes a significant section on Going Vegan. The book that I am writing now is on 10 Compelling Reasons to Choose a Plant-based Diet & will be published by Balboa Press. I want to ask for your permission to quote some of your reasons & responses as long as I credit you as the source in my new book. By doing so, it will hopefully drive more people to your website & will be an all win situation.
      Thank you for letting me know if I may have your permission & blessings to do that.
      Your Vegan Kindred Spirit~ Meenakshi Angel Honig

      1. Hey Angel,
        wow ? thats realy cool! I learned this technique while doing vegan street activism and outreach. It is a perfect way to let people make the connection themselfes. I found it to be a very efficient way to make people consider going vegan.
        Yes, you have my permission to quote my blog post. Could you send me a copy (e-book is fine) to the finished book? That would be awesome ?
        Lots of love and greetings from Germany

        1. Aloha Dear Imke~
          Thank you so much for your kind, generous & prompt response! It really means a lot to me. I feel that the entire universe is supporting me in being a voice for the benefit of the animals, the earth & humanity. Your permission to quote the most common excuses & responses is evidence of the magic of the unseen hand. I will credit you as the source & I will most definitely send you the finished copy.
          If you ever come to Maui, please contact me. We will have a vegan potluck in your honor!
          Thank you so much for all of your noble service for our vegan movement! Together we can make this a vegan world that is kind to one & all!
          With Love & Gratitude~~~Angel

  2. Dear Angel. I’m reading this article after watching Seaspiracy. I’m feeling sooooo angry with the willful ignorance of people and just wanted to scream at all the non vegans I know and dump them from my life!!! I was looking for some sensible, intelligent, rational arguments and there you were! Thank you!! What an absolutely wonderful, informative article. Your responses are so well thought out and structured. They provoke thought which is what our cause needs. Capture hearts and minds through suggestions not a sledgehammer! I shall encourage any curious thinkers to this site. I shall browse more later. Its 12.30am and I need sleep. But thank you again.
    In love and light,

  3. Wow just wow, its a great compilation, every sentence is a slap for guilt-defensive non-vegans.

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