5 Questions People Will Ask You When You Go Plant-Based and How to Answer Them
It doesn't matter if you've been plant-based for five years or five days— people will always ask you questions about your diet.
Some questions are from people who are genuinely curious about being plant-based, while some are from people who don't like or understand plant-based diets. It can be overwhelming always to have to answer questions about how you eat, whether the intention is kind or not. Sometimes you want to yell, "Stop asking me! Why do you even care about what I eat?"
Even if you are frustrated, the best way to answer the questions is by educating the person about your choice to go plant-based. Many of the questions you'll be asked are misinformation about plant-based diets. You don't have to become the spokesperson for all plant-based eaters, but you can help share knowledge and inspire other people to make changes in how they eat. Here are five of the most common questions people ask, and how to answer them so you're always prepared.
Question 1: "How are you going to get enough protein?"
This is probably the most common question you will receive when you go plant-based. There is a misconception that you can only find protein in meat, eggs and dairy. However, foods like peas, chia seeds, peanut butter, tofu, seitan, tempeh, beans, lentils and nuts are all high in protein. There are also vegan protein powders available.
While it's possible your diet may lack protein, that applies to anyone who doesn't have a balanced diet. It's essential to research when you make a diet or lifestyle change and speak to a nutritionist or doctor if you need more guidance. Most plant-based people can get enough protein by eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of plant-based proteins. The most useful way to answer this question is by educating the person and sharing your favorite plant-based proteins which might inspire them to try one!
Answer: "There are many different types of protein-rich foods. Would you like to hear a few of my favorites?"
Question 2: "Do you miss (x) food?"
You will get this question a lot. It's usually paired with a phrase like, "I wish I could go plant-based, but I could never give up cheese!" It's important to stress that most people don't go plant-based because they don't like meat or dairy. Most people go plant-based for personal reasons, such as wanting to improve their health, or helping the planet. You might miss a particular food at first, but your tastebuds adjust over time, and you learn to love new foods. There are also plant-based alternatives for almost every type of food, like delicious plant-based alternatives to ice cream and even chicken nuggets.
Answer: "Sometimes, I do miss that food, but I made this choice for a reason. There are a lot of different plant-based alternatives, so I don't feel like I'm missing out!"
Question 3: "Why did you go plant-based?"
The answer to this question is going to be different for everyone. Some people start to eat plant-based for their health, so it's purely a dietary change. Other times, vegetarians and vegans make the switch to limit their harm to animals and the planet. In some cases, the change is based on a combination of these two things. Becoming vegetarian or vegan is more than a diet change—it's also a lifestyle change. You can be as detailed or vague as you want with this answer. It depends on your reason and how comfortable you are sharing this information. It's good to end on a positive note by explaining how going plant-based has affected you since you decided. This will remind the person to respect your choice to push you for more information.
Answer: "I chose to be vegan because I wanted to reduce my harm to animals. I feel good about that choice and I've enjoyed trying new foods with other people in the vegan community!"
Question 4: "What are you allowed to eat?"
The answer to this question will depend on which plant-based diet you follow. It helps to understand the differences between plant-based, vegetarian and vegan. Plant-based diets limit meat, egg and dairy products, but they don't always fully exclude them. Vegetarians do not eat meat but they do eat dairy and eggs. Vegans do not eat meat or any animal products such as dairy, eggs and honey. The simplest way to answer this question is to be honest about what you choose not to eat. You can focus on some plant-based foods that you can eat, such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pasta with tomato sauce, avocado toast, rice or Oreos. People often ask this question because they think plant-based diets are only made of lettuces and bananas, which isn't the case.
Answer: "I'm (plant-based, vegan, vegetarian), which means I choose not to eat (whatever foods.) I eat many the same foods as you like french fries and burgers!"
Question 5: "How can I make my diet more plant-based?"
This is the best question to get asked when you go plant-based. You don't have to be a famous wellness Instagram influencer with thousands of followers to make a difference. Sometimes, the most impactful change happens in small interactions with the people we see every day. It's always helpful to encourage the person to start slow. Suggest taking baby steps like starting with Meatless Mondays or switch out their regular cow's milk with a non-dairy milk. Small changes make it easier to adjust to a new diet, so the process isn't too overwhelming. You can also direct them to free resources like articles, plant-based Instagram influencers and plant-based food blogs.
Answer: "Thank you for asking! I would love to give you some advice! What small changes can you make in your diet today?"
If you want more ideas for plant-based snacks that you can share with your non-plant-based friends, check out THIS list of surprising vegan snacks.