10 retaliative responses you’ll come across in every vegan debate

It’s so classic, you literally wonder whether these people made clones of themselves just to comment everywhere.

The plants rights activists

Plants have life. Plants feel pain. Plants are sentient.

These are some of the claims made by Plants Rights Activists the moment we call them out on their cruelty when they poke fun at veganism. The debate essentially begins when they try to equate animals with plants.

But there couldn’t be a bigger insult to animals than equating them to plants.

Animals are living beings with their own distinct personalities. They can move around, forage, socialize, procreate, and nurture their families. A few of them can comfortably be under the care of humans too. They get depressed when their babies are separated from them, just like humans do.

How many of these behaviours have been observed in plants?

Plants are innate beings, who do not even possess a brain or a central nervous system. They do not tend and nurture their young the way mammals do. To even compare a mammal with a plant is the biggest transgression against mammals.

Moreover, since far more plants would have to be killed in order to raise animals for food, as opposed to directly consuming the plants themselves, wouldn’t it just make more sense to go vegan to save more plant lives?

Disrupting the food chain ? Sure!

Vegans have always been accused of disrupting the food chain. Yet, over the course of the years, it’s the meat, dairy, and poultry industries that have ravaged the planet, and have disrupted whatever semblance of a food chain we do have. No kind of disruption has ever occurred from people choosing not to eat animal products.

The nutritionists

“We need meat for protein.” “We need milk for calcium.” We need eggs, seafood, and other animal secretions for various nutrients, scream the omnivores. The truth is, we need these nutrients. Not the meat or bodily secretions of the animals that they come from. That’s just an excuse to continue to enslave, torture and murder animals for the sake of taste, culture, and tradition. As long as we aim to be politically correct in every facet of life, we will never progress beyond these regressive practices of the dark ages; the evils of sexism, ageism, racism, speciesism, homophobia, anti-semitism, misogyny, xenophobia, and slavery.

The culture police

These people have to sworn to uphold the tenets of the white revolution. A million rural Indians are employed by the dairy industry, they say. Dairy is the backbone of the Indian rural economy, they say. Drinking milk is a part of our culture and tradition. And while all those statements may be accurate, they don’t take away from the fact that it is also one of the most barbaric and cruel industries on the planet. So maybe this “backbone of the Indian rural economy” needs a new backbone? Maybe transition to something else?

Proponents of the industry are quick to point out that such a transition “would snatch the livelihood of 100 million poor farmers

However, this needn’t be the case as Roma Roy, from Evolved foods, puts things in perspective in this interview with The Print:

The “Western conspiracy” theorists

According to this group, veganism is ploy to destabilize and disintegrate the rich culture and tradition of dairy in India by tainting it with the introduction of Holstein and Jersey cows. The milk produced by these species is known as A1 milk, whereas the milk obtained from Indian breeds is known as A2 milk. The conspiracy theorists allege that marketers of A1 milk want to have an upper hand in the sales of milk in India, by gaining a majority share of the Indian dairy market. They also believe that it is one of the major reasons why India is the diabetes capital of the world, as the Indian populace cannot digest A1 milk properly.

These claims have already been debunked by reputed organizations. A summary of one such report can be found here.

The worshippers

A certain section of theists believe the cow is like a mother. And since it’s like their mother, there’s absolutely no harm in taking some milk meant for her calf and drinking it themselves. Well, if cows are in actuality, so sacred, then why are they are repeatedly raped on dairy farms? Why are their calves separated at birth? Why are they slaughtered once they stop producing milk?

On modern mechanized dairy farms, as well as in tons of household farms, this “mother” is treated only, and only, as a milk making machine all through her life. Nothing more. Nothing less. So let’s put an end to this “reverence” narrative once and for all.
If you really considered the cow to be your mother, your blood must be boiling, and you should be seething with rage at what dairy farmers are doing to her. Where is the rage? Where are the protests? Nothing! It’s just all hot air.

The whataboutery brigade

What about coffee? What about chocolates? What about cashew nuts?
What about palm oil? What about pesticides? What about the water footprint of almond milk? The list is endless.

These people indulge in whataboutery in order to feel good about themselves. To convince themselves that they’re doing something less evil than other people out there, and that that’s okay. They pretend not to consume these products. It’s as if the morality of these products are to be questioned only when the topic of discussion in veganism.

Pray tell me, what’s all this talk about mobile towers and white sugar doing on a page meant for vegan activism?

To the people indulging in whataboutery regarding veganism, I’d like to say, choose the lesser of two evils. If palm oil is your concern, don’t eat products containing it. If the water footprint of almonds pricks at you, switch to another plant based milk with a lower footprint. If you’re so riled up about the unhealthiness of sugar, start following a sugar-free diet. If you’re worried about the exploitation of children for cocoa production, stop consuming chocolate.

It’s that simple!

There’s no way to exist on this planet without harming other creatures(at least not yet), but until then, let’s choose to be educated, show our scientific prowess, and prove that we are the intelligent species instead of behaving like cavemen barbarians. Let’s all do our bit to reduce our impact on this planet and its creatures. But let’s not allow perfect to be the enemy of good.

Arvind reaffirms my point in a reply to a question on unintentionally killed insects:

The elitists

As per this bunch, veganism is a luxury that can only be adopted by the rich and wealthy. There are many aspects to be considered regarding this statement. Just like how one can consume only the rich and expensive parts of an omnivorous diet, a similar thing can be done on the plant-based diet too. The only difference is that no animals are killed for a rich vegans life. It is quite easy in today’s day and age to find alternatives to almost all Indian household staples, whether at local groceries, or at online vegan marketplaces.

Indian veganism has gained massive traction ever since Covid-19 locked us all indoors, and the industry has been exploding with numerous online vegan marketplaces. A few worth mentioning are Vegandukan, Vvegano and Veganmall, as they are the top three go-to online vegan markets.

The animal rights activists

Yes, you heard me right! But I’m not talking about the typical AR activists you see on a corner holding a sign every now and then. The AR activists I’m talking about are primarily concerned with the cruelties inflicted upon animals during the farming process, either intentionally or unintentionally. They are referring to the tiny number of farm animals used for agriculture. These could range from bullocks used to fertilize and plough a field, to the horses and donkeys used to transport farm produce. And the fact that some of them are castrated in order to make them docile and controllable.

Never mind the billions of animals raised for meat who will suffer their entire lives in captivity. They’ll never breathe fresh air or ever feel the warmth of the sun on their backs. They will never get to raise their young or nurture families. The only time they might probably get to know about the existence of this planet, will be on their way to the slaughterhouse. And that’s after enduring years of confinement, torture and abuse. But let’s act concerned about that one bull used to plough a paddy field, or the rats and snakes that come under the wheels of tractors while harvesting grain. No one is denying the occurrence of these incidents. Nor are we condemning them. But let’s choose the lesser of the two evils, shall we?

Appeal to extinction

Believe it or not, there’s an entire set of people who believe the only way to eradicate animal suffering from the planet, is through human extinction. I don’t know about you, but the fact that you need to depend on one species’ extinction in order to save another, sounds absolutely ludicrous to me.

Appeal to…….….Eskimo??

As funny as it sounds, this group of people believe that veganism can be adopted en masse, only if it includes all factions of society. And hence the appeal to Eskimo. You’ll see these people talk about distinct human societies all over vegan debates. But the theme remains the same. It’s either islanders, eskimos, desert tribes, people living in Siberia, or even native tribespeople living in the jungles of their very own country. This logic dictates that only when something is doable by humans living on the very fringes of civilization, should it be adopted by those living right in the middle of it. Sounds crazy? I know right!


So whether it’s disrupting the food chain, fighting for plants rights, appealing to culture and tradition, our ancestors, or even present day tribes, there is no dearth of irrational platitudes from meat eaters, which always happen to be so similar to each other.

What kind of silly retorts have you come across lately when discussing veganism? Have you spotted some, or a few variations of the above responses? Do entertain us all in the comments.

I am an avid trekker, content writer, photographer and sports enthusiast. I write about trekking, society, overpopulation, lifestyle and veganism in general.