18 Vegan Stereotypes and Myths—DEBUNKED for Good

If you ask a bunch of vegans what is the hardest part of being vegan, many will agree, it’s the uninformed things people say to you!

People all want to know where you get your protein. They assume you’re a hippie or a communist. Then they try to hold you accountable for something PETA did.

In this post, I’m going to cover 18 of the most common (and most frustrating) vegan myths and stereotypes—and exactly why they’re not true!

1. Vegans are scrawny and bad at sports—due to protein deficiency.

Derek Tresize, competitive vegan bodybuilder. (Photo: Compassion Over Killing.)

This is probably the most common myth about veganism of all: “Vegans can’t get enough protein.”

According to this myth, the muscles of any new vegan are on a downward trajectory, and they shall wither away into dust… So sad…

Some people think vegans need to eat protein powder every day just to get adequate protein. There’s also a myth that vegans must “combine” the right foods at each meal to get complete protein. This has been debunked long ago.

Like most stereotypes, there is a small piece of truth behind this “protein-deficient vegan” stereotype: Vegan diets are usually lower in protein than non-vegan diets. And vegans do have a lower average BMI (body mass index) compared to meat-eaters.

But if you know any significant number of vegans, you’ll know that real-life vegans break this mold. Some are ripped, some are overweight, and most are just about average.

But in case you really need convincing, here are SIX facts that make this stereotype untrue:

  1. There are tons of competitive, successful vegan athletes. Have you seen the documentary The Game Changers? It’s all about how plant-based athletes recover faster and often perform better compared to meat-eaters. It has interviews with vegan athletes of all kinds—not just endurance athletes, but strength competitors, as well.
  2. In sports that value a lean bodyweight, vegans have an advantage. In sports like running and cycling, excess bodyweight will slow you down and hold you back. While it is possible to bulk on a vegan diet, a vegan diet really excels in producing a lean physique. Vegans naturally reach a lower body mass index than meat-eaters or flexitarians—without needing to count calories.
  3. There are even successful vegan bodybuilders and powerlifters. Here are some of the most well-known ones to follow on Youtube: Jon Venus, Nimai Delgado, Derek Simnett, and Brian Turner. You can also check out Plant Based Muscle, a book by Robert Cheeke and Vanessa Espinoza, or The Vegan Muscle & Fitness Guide to Bodybuilding Competitions by Derek Tresize.
  4. Most Americans eat way more protein than they need. And this is not just something vegans say. Check out this New York Times article about it. The recommended daily intake cited in that article is 46 grams for women, 56 grams for men—vegans easily hit this. Track your own diet with an app like My Fitness Pal, and you’ll see!
  5. Even athletes can get plenty of protein on a vegan diet. This guide from No Meat Athlete will help walk you through the myths of athletes and protein intake. Their guideline for athletes is 1.0 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram (not pound) of body weight. For someone who’s 140 pounds, that’s only 64g to 76g of protein per day. Still easy to hit as a vegan without making a huge effort.
  6. You can always keep increasing your protein intake as a vegan if you want. There are high-protein vegan foods, such as tofu, tempeh, seitan, and beans. And there are protein powders, too. So even if you want to load up with lots of extra protein, you still can on a vegan diet. I’ve maintained a vegan diet over 120g of protein per day in order to hit recommendations given by bodybuilders. You can still eat high-protein foods at every meal if you make the effort!
The Game Changers is a documentary all about vegan athletes and athletic performance on a plant-based diet.

2. Vegans are all hippies.

Vegans are “tree huggers.”

Especially when veganism was a newer phenomenon, you may have seen a lot of representations of vegans as hippies—as “crunchy” yogis who radiate love and peace but have no grounding in reality.

Some vegans do fall in this category, of course, which has its pros and cons. New age spirituality. Weed. Obsessing over being zero waste. Everything DIY. Fermenting your own kombucha. Gardening as the highest ideal.

It can include a lot of white people with dreadlocks, for some reason, which some people consider problematic (cultural appropriation).

Politically, people who fall into the “vegan hippie” group may focus on being all about “peace” or “nonviolence” without specific substance behind it.

While they are opposed to racism and oppression, they might prefer to focus on the positive: They’re “pro-love,” “pro-equality,” and “pro-peace” rather than “anti-racist” or “anti-war.”

They might even talk about “manifesting” or “high-vibration energy.”

Don’t get me wrong. I do appreciate the peaceful and compassionate nature of the hippie aesthetic—but as a vegan of 12 years now, it also isn’t my style.

While all of these elements can exist in vegan circles, by no means does every vegan fit this description.

As the rest of this list emphasizes, there are vegan powerlifters and football players, as well as vegan business people. Politically, there are vegans on the left, right, and everywhere in between. Vegans come in all flavors!

3. Vegans are angry protesters and terrorists.

There’s a stereotype that the favorite hobby of vegans is to stand around throwing red paint on people wearing fur coats or yelling “meat is murder” at any omnivores they can find.

On the weekend, vegans like to go break into farms to free the animals, bomb butcher shops, spray paint “murder” on the side of a McDonald’s location… You know, this is what vegans do for fun! Right?

While there are some vegans who choose to organize or attend protests, it’s a minority of vegans who actually do. Of that minority, it’s a small percentage of vegans who approach it in a hostile, aggressive manner.

vegan protest sign

As with many subcultures, some of the loudest people are typically the most aggressive ones. So yes, you can find examples of vegans yelling at meat-eaters and shaming them. It happens.

But it’s such a small percentage of vegans who do that.

As far as vegans being terrorists, again, it’s an extremely small percentage of vegans who do anything illegal in the name of veganism.

Even in the cases where militant vegan activists are doing something illegal in the name of veganism, it’s usually destruction of property or trespassing to rescue animals.

It’s not like vegans are out there attacking human beings with weapons. I wrote about this more in my post about so-called “militant veganism.”

Animal Rights Activists as “Eco-Terrorists”

Interestingly, the government and corporate interests may play a role in spreading the stereotype of vegans as terrorists.

The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is a U.S. federal law, passed in 2006, that actually does legally categorize some animal rights activism as terrorism.

The Act does allow room for “peaceful protest” such as picketing, but many activists argue that it is too vague and sweeping in its wording, and it could infringe on the 1st Amendment rights of protesters.

There are also “Ag Gag” laws that have been passed by several states. These laws allow protesters to be arrested for filming and documenting what’s happening inside of slaughterhouses and factory farms.

Journalist Will Potter explains how the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and Ag-Gag laws are used to prosecute animal rights activists as “eco-terrorists.

4. Vegans are negative, depressing people.

Some people associate veganism with dwelling on all the things that are wrong with the world: Vegans are so negative, they won’t let me eat my dead animals in peace!

Don’t get me wrong—many vegans do feel strongly about what is happening to animals. So outrage and disgust are common emotions that many vegans feel in the process of learning about animal agriculture and deciding to go vegan.

But that doesn’t mean all vegans are going to go on and on about the bad things in the world as a daily habit.

Generally speaking, vegans are people who have decided to do something about the bad in the world. We are constructive and action-oriented. We are trying to actually line up our behavior with our values. That’s very different from being aimlessly negative.

In addition, many vegans recognize that, although there are massive amounts of suffering in the world, we do live in one of the best times in human history.

Factory farms are one of the excesses of capitalism and the industrial revolution. But the clock is ticking for them. People are realizing how nasty and awful they are. Awareness is spreading, and the alternatives are growing.

Overall, being vegan usually just means having your eyes open to the fact that there is a better way. And yes, that includes acknowledging and even calling attention to problems with the current way society operates.

But if you’re a vegan, it doesn’t mean you’re a “negative person” overall. You’re a problem solver. You’re passionate. You believe in your convictions and values, and you’re committed to them. You’re not just “negative.”

5. Vegans are pretentious, virtue-signaling know-it-alls.

This is a hard one. The truth behind it is that many vegans are passionate. And that passion can sometimes come across as “holier than thou.”

It’s easy to come across as pretentious without intending to, and I think that’s often what happens with “pretentious” vegans.

When you become aware of the massive suffering that animals encounter on factory farms—or the environmental destruction caused by animal agriculture—it can feel like your eyes have been opened for the first time.

As a result, you start to feel that other people just need to open their eyes, too.

As a new vegan, you want to be like the concept of a “Bodhisattva” in Buddhism—a person who has attained enlightenment and then comes back to help everyone else achieve it, too.

Without trying, you can come off as “preachy” or “holier than thou.” I’m pretty sure I have been guilty of this in the past.

Vegans and Virtue Signaling

With the rise of social media, the term “virtue signaling” has become more common, and vegans are among the people most often accused of it. Personally, I know I’ve been accused of it.

But while some vegans may be arrogant or rude in their moral proclamations, many of us are just passionate and want to share what we’ve learned.

We want to contribute to the collective learning and progression of the human species. We honestly want to call attention to the problems we see!

It’s not a matter of us being better than anyone else. It’s a matter of us believing there is a better way for humankind, and we think it’s in this direction. As a result, we take steps and encourage others to step with us.

6. Vegans can’t take a joke or have fun.

Some people think vegans can’t take a joke. But the truth is that many of us are light-hearted and can joke around, even about veganism and other ethical/social issues that are quite serious.

Honestly, if you walked up to me and made a joke about how you eat as many animals as possible because you hate them, I might even laugh—depending on your delivery.

Just because I’ve decided to take action against animal exploitation as a vegan doesn’t mean I’m constantly thinking about it or sore about it.

Most days, I don’t even think that much about animal oppression. Even as a vegan blogger, I don’t think about it every day! 

When you get accustomed to veganism, it’s just part of your life. It becomes “normal” to you, and it’s not necessarily the main subject of consideration each day.

As a baseline, I know that not everyone I meet is going to understand why I’m vegan or what’s happening on modern factory farms. I understand and have empathy when people are ignorant or uninformed.

I also have empathy that everyone is struggling with something in their life. I understand that many people are just overwhelmed and just want to relax a bit.

I don’t think the most effective way to influence others as a vegan is to be deadly serious all the time. I believe in living a happy, healthy life, and leading with my example.

If other people see that you’re living a good life as a vegan, they will naturally become interested. And that includes being able to joke about it. That includes being a light-hearted person who doesn’t always sour the mood.

7. Vegans care more about animal rights than human rights.

This one is really frustrating if you’re a vegan who does care a lot about human rights.

People think that just because you’re taking steps to fight for animal rights, that means you think they’re “more important” than human rights.

I remember seeing a comment online that had gone viral about animal rights protesters. The comment essentially said, “Y’all care about animals, but not about black people.”

First, how do you know that the people at an animal rights protest don’t also go to anti-racism protests? The truth may be that many of them do, or would.

Second, what’s happening to farm animals and what’s happening to groups of oppressed humans today (such as black Americans) is different. While both face violence, the severity, scale, types, and consistency of violence aren’t identical.

Most people (including vegans) intuitively care more about human rights than animal rights, but some vegans observe that the kinds of violence inflicted on farm animals today are of such a severe nature, they decide it’s the most important issue for them to protest about.

When it comes to supporting different causes and movements, we all have limited time and energy. We’re all at different points in our journeys. And we all have different personal connections to the issues.

For all these reasons, it’s a little ridiculous when people complain about vegans caring more about animal rights than human issues.

8. Vegans are obsessed with the purity of their diet.

Some people read a definition of the word “vegan” online, and they assume that all vegans are super strict about every minor ingredient in their food. In practice, most aren’t.

Not all vegans agree when it comes to honey.

In practice, we all have slightly different guidelines in our heads for what a practical vegan should do.

  • Some vegans are okay with eating honey, some aren’t.
  • Some vegans are okay with eating sugar that was probably filtered with animal bone char, some aren’t.
  • Some vegans are okay with consuming “natural flavors” (it can come from animals or plants), some aren’t.

Some new vegans go through the effort of buying new vegan shampoo, deodorant, soap, household cleaners, and more. Others don’t bother—they just quit meat, dairy, and eggs, and they call it good.

Many vegans think it’s wrong to buy second-hand leather from a thrift store—or even to keep your old leather belongings. But other vegans are totally okay with this. They point out that it’s more environmentally friendly to keep using the leather that already exists.

It’s funny when I find a blog about vegan food that is clearly not written by a vegan. They’re trying to apply the rules they read online about veganism to a real-life situation they haven’t lived.

In practice, veganism is messy. It’s probably true that nobody can be 100% vegan by the standard definition. But also, that’s not the point.

This lifestyle is about making an effort to make a positive change. Being vegan is not about purity or perfection. It never was. And so, in reality, most vegans are not the obsessive freaks that people imagine them to be.

9. Veganism is just a type of consumerism, and it supports capitalism.

This is another criticism that the political left—Marxists, socialists, and communists, especially—will make of vegans.

Such critics on the left will say that veganism is just a consumer boycott movement, and therefore, it reinforces capitalism through the idea of “voting with your dollars.” Veganism, they say, perpetuates the idea that there can be ethical consumption under capitalism.

Marxists and others on the left view capitalism as the root problem, so anything that doesn’t challenge that system is therefore not attacking the real problem. So they argue that lifestyle politics, like veganism, are a dead-end.

But here’s where this criticism of veganism falls short:

Most vegans agree that other actions need to be taken besides changing your diet. And there are plenty of vegans who do organize with groups like the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) to push toward political system change.

But even if capitalism is the root problem, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t remove your financial support of the excessively cruel industries within it right now.

Many vegans view their diet change as one small way they can make a more positive impact in the world. But it doesn’t mean they see it as the end-all be-all.

Angela Davis is vegan. Davis is one of the most highly regarded, long-standing critics of capitalism, racism, and sexism in America. A hero to feminists and Marxists everywhere, she here discusses why she’s vegan.

For many vegans, “being vegan” isn’t just a diet change, either. It may mean going to protests. It may mean handing out leaflets or advocating for change in many places.

According to the Vegan Society’s definition, veganism is about a principle of opposing exploitation.

Karl Marx himself pointed out that capitalism is built on the exploitation of workers by capitalists. But with animal agriculture today, we see a kind of hyper-exploitation.

Animals can be legally exploited to even greater extremes than human workers. Animals can be worked to death, legally.

For many vegans, fighting exploitation is the real point. It’s not just about buying a veggie burger from a huge corporation rather than a meat burger from a huge corporation.

Note: On the flip side, other vegans do believe in capitalism. And they would argue that veganism is exactly the kind of ethical upgrade that capitalism needs to allow maximum flourishing on this planet! So, again, there are vegans of all stripes!

10. All vegans are white.

This is one of the more harmful stereotypes because it could become self-perpetuating. And most of us agree that we want vegan spaces to be inclusive to all races and ethnicities.

The truth about veganism and whiteness, as far as I can tell, is that the media simply chooses to promote white vegan speakers, authors, and figureheads more than vegans of color.

Black vegans exist. Latino vegans exist. Asian vegans exist. Native American vegans exist.

The idea of veganism as a white people’s movement is not true and never was true. There have been important vegans of color all throughout the history of veganism.

When people say veganism is just a “white person thing,” they erase the contributions of vegans of color. I’ve heard from many vegans of color who say it’s the most frustrating thing to hear people say veganism is a white thing. They’re just like standing there like, “Hello?”

A video by Herbivore Beauty on being a black vegan in Canada. She points out the health, environmental, and civil rights reasons to go vegan as a black person.

For a great book on black women and their paths to veganism, check out Sistah Vegan. It’s just one of the great resources made available by the author A. Breeze Harper.

11. Veganism is a privileged movement for rich people.

With the costs associated with many vegan restaurants, vegan specialty foods, and health food stores, some people assume you need to be rich to be vegan.

Probably the most well-known grocery store associated with vegan food is Whole Foods Market, which is also known by the nickname Whole Paycheck for its high costs.

One of the cheap and easy vegan meals I eat almost daily: Oatmeal!

But veganism can be very affordable when done right. I wrote a whole article about my vegan grocery bill costs, which discusses eating out as a vegan on a budget, too.

Unfortunately, many of the ways to save costs on a vegan diet do require more time, which is also commonly in short supply for working-class people. But you can find solutions.

Personally, I’m horribly lazy about cooking—I don’t spend more than 15 minutes preparing any of my meals—yet I still manage to make these very cheap staple foods on a daily or weekly basis:

  • Oatmeal (just a few minutes in the microwave) and cold cereal
  • Rice (very easy in a rice cooker)
  • Pasta
  • Fresh fruit, veggies, and nuts (no prep at all)
  • Beans (Canned is very fast and easy. Cooking from dry is even cheaper but takes longer.)
  • Leftovers (whenever you do put time into a meal, make extra, then microwave the leftovers).
  • More ideas in my vegan on a budget article.

In all honesty, there can be a learning curve when going vegan. At first, you might not know how to be vegan affordably. So it may require extra time or money. But that’s mostly due to it being new—it’s not inherent to the vegan diet.

In practice, many of the vegans I’ve known in my life are broke young people. If it really required riches, most of the people I know couldn’t have done it. The truth is that it can be done quite affordably.

12. Vegans are obsessed with being vegan—it’s their whole identity.

There’s a popular joke that goes, “How do you know if someone is vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.” But is it true?

Honestly, most vegans do have some level of passion or conviction about their choice to be vegan—otherwise, it wouldn’t be worth the effort. But not all of us make it a central point of our lives.

Despite running a vegan blog, I don’t actually base much of my life around being vegan at all.

  • I don’t typically go to animal rights protests or pass out leaflets on veganism (although I did at one point).
  • I don’t follow vegan social media accounts (except a few vegan fitness/bodybuilding Youtube channels).
  • I don’t typically go to Veg Fests (although I’ve been to a few, and they are fun).

Although I see veganism as a valuable ethical commitment I’ve made, it doesn’t define me. And at this point, it’s not usually something I’ll bring up in conversation except for logistical reasons—or if someone asks.

And I’m not the only vegan who feels this way. I know plenty of shy vegans who would rather not be put on the spot to explain why they’re vegan.

Whether you speak up constantly about being vegan is mostly a matter of your personality and the logistical needs of the situation.

If someone is cooking dinner for me, yeah, I will mention that I’m vegan. But if you then complain and tell me I’m ramming it down your throat, that’s an illusion of your own making!

13. Vegans are soft people.

There’s a perception that veganism isn’t or can’t be masculine or strong. Since the myths about protein and physical strength were addressed above, let’s address emotional strength and toughness here.

First: Compassion is not weak. Taking mercy on a powerless creature is not weak.

And on the flip side, committing violence (or paying for others to commit violence) against a helpless creature doesn’t make you strong.

Second, what vegans are really doing by abstaining from eating animals is taking a stand. We’re making a decision to act differently from the rest of society. That is a strong, bold thing to do.

Being vegan requires independent thinking and conviction. I addressed this a little in my post “Do Girls Like Vegan Guys?” I explained why the independent thinking needed to be vegan is an attractive trait.

If you are lazy, you will probably fail at being vegan. Because honestly, sometimes it’s a little hard or inconvenient!

If you can’t take any criticism from others, you may fail at being vegan. Because at least some people are going to disagree with you and judge you for it.

So instead of seeing veganism as a sign of weakness or softness, I would see it as a sign that this person is thinking and acting in accord with their own compass, not society’s or anyone else’s.

14. Vegans have a bland diet of mostly salad and soy products.

Sometimes, it seems like the only products that are widely known to be vegan are salad and tofu.

The truth, of course, is that many of the foods average Americans eat on a regular basis are vegan or can be easily made vegan. There are flavorful, diverse vegan appetizers, entrees, and desserts from all different cuisines.

But let me tell a story that illustrates this vegan myth.

Background: I’m a vegan who doesn’t really like vegetables that much. I tolerate some of them, but I’m not a big fan. And anyway, when I mention this to people, they always respond: “Wait, you’re a vegan who doesn’t like vegetables? What do you even eat?”

This confused response just illustrates the fact that many people think vegan food = vegetables, nothing else.

Many people literally think that 90% of packaged foods in the grocery store aren’t vegan. If you told them that french fries or energy drinks are vegan, they would seriously be shocked.

Of course, awareness is growing more and more about what “vegan” means, thankfully.

But in case you’re not aware, check out this huge list of “accidentally vegan” products you can find in a normal grocery store. Look at all my blog posts answering whether different products are vegan: Nerds, spring rolls, peanut butter, and more.

Bottom line: Vegans don’t just eat salad and soy burgers. We eat a lot of different stuff!

15. Vegans think meat eaters are bad people.

As a vegan, I sometimes get the sense that meat-eaters think I’m judging them. They’ll basically apologize to me for not being vegan—as if I’m offended. 

Sure, I think it would be great if everyone was vegan. I think it’s the direction our society needs to move in the long-term. And I definitely encourage more people to try it.

But that doesn’t mean I hate meat-eaters. It doesn’t even mean that I’m judging them, really.

I understand that everyone is at a different phase in their journey. I understand that, based on the facts they have, not everyone thinks that veganism would work for them. I understand that we all have different values and different perspectives, too.

Basically, I understand that you can still be a good person and not be vegan. You can still be someone who I love and respect without being vegan.

Do I usually respect people more if they are vegan? Well, I would say there is a correlation, yes. I generally respect vegans because it suggests independent critical thinking and compassion. But I know non-vegans can have these characteristics, too.

Overall, I’d rather be friends with a kind, interesting meat-eater than with a mean, boring vegan.

I don’t hate meat-eaters or see them as the enemy just for being meat-eaters. I disagree with them about meat, sure. And if it comes up in conversation, I may even try to convince them to see my perspective. But I don’t hate them.

16. Vegans are just going through a “phase.”

Some people just can’t believe that veganism is something you’d stick with for more than a few months. But personally, I’ve been vegan for over 12 years.

Some meat-eaters love to throw around statistics about how 80% of vegans supposedly quit. They take it as evidence that it’s not a sustainable or healthy way to live, it’s just an irrational “phase,” etc.

The truth is that a fair amount of vegans do quit. But that’s not because it’s a bad, unhealthy, or irrational diet. It’s because being vegan is challenging in a non-vegan world.

However, society is moving more and more toward plant-based diets, and for good reason. In the future, we will see more and more vegans who stay vegan, as society is becoming more accommodating to this lifestyle.

When someone quits a vegan diet, it’s a reflection both of human psychology and of our society being less than accommodating to veganism.

When I say it’s a reflection of human psychology, I mean that human beings quit all kinds of things—especially diets. Changing your diet to be significantly different from your past diet and the diet of your friends and family is hard!

It can be hard to be the lone vegan.

Luckily, plant-based foods are becoming more and more accessible. And vegan nutrition is becoming more accepted by authorities, too. So there is a growing movement. But right now it’s still challenging for many.

So although some vegans do quit, I would not call it a “phase.” That’s a very condescending way to look at it.

Most people who quit veganism don’t look back on it like it was part of some angsty teenage naivety. Most of them still think veganism is noble and right—it just wasn’t working for them personally or they didn’t have the will-power.

So, no, most vegans are not “going through a phase.” They are making a sincere attempt to live their values. And many of us do stick with it for years, even for life.

17. All vegans are liberals or leftists.

There is definitely a kernel of truth to this one. I would say that the majority of vegans are on the left or at least in the center. But it’s far from unanimous.

If I had to guess, probably more vegans supported Bernie Sanders compared to any of the other recent candidates for U.S. President. But hey, not all vegans!

First, there are debates within the vegan movement when it comes to intersectionality. Some prominent figures specifically clarify that they’re not intersectional or “social justice” vegans.

So, it’s not like there is one united vegan philosophy and it’s inherently fused with Marxism or anything like that.

Secondly, ethical veganism gets criticized by a lot of the radical left. So it’s not like they are a match made in heaven. Here is a blog post with 10 common objections that socialists and anarchists often have to veganism (and some pretty good responses, too).

One of the most common problems that leftists have with veganism is that vegans use consumer choices to help make change happen. Some progressives see this as reinforcing capitalism (see the section about veganism and capitalism above), so they oppose it.

I’ve definitely seen vegans who support Trump and the Republican party, too. And I’ve seen lots of vegans who are mostly apolitical or moderate.

Even among the many vegans who are liberals, most are also open-minded and would welcome vegans of other viewpoints.

So rest assured, no matter how you feel about it, conservative vegans do exist. Capitalist vegans exist. And libertarian vegans definitely exist.

18. Vegans support PETA and everything they do.

PETA does a lot of controversial stuff. They run lewd Super Bowl commercials. They stage provocative exhibitions. They take out billboards with messages that are potentially quite offensive.

Do vegans support PETA? Obviously, some do. But others don’t. Most vegans probably support some things PETA does and not others.

PETA is a huge organization. They probably have the largest reach and budget of any organization that actively promotes veganism. So they definitely have some positive impacts.

The first video I ever watched that made me want to go vegetarian was PETA’s “Meet Your Meat,” narrated by Alec Baldwin.

I remember as a teenager, I would get cute vegan stickers that were made by PETA2 and distributed at rock/punk music festivals. I would post them everywhere.

But PETA is focused solely on animal welfare issues. So vegans who want a broader transformation of society are not always happy with how they approach campaigns.

PETA is controversial on purpose. They use shock to draw attention to animal welfare issues, often offending women, people of color, and other marginalized groups in the process.

Marine Janine (A Privileged Vegan) talks about PETA’s advertisements that make light of exploitation and abuse of women.

Anti-racist activists have pointed out that when PETA compares factory farming to the slavery of black people in America, they’re simply using the history and suffering of black people just to further their own cause.

PETA also makes comparisons between factory farming and the Holocaust. This is understandably offensive to many Jewish people and others.

There’s actually an old blog online called Vegans Against PETA. It hasn’t been active since 2010, but as an artifact, it still illustrates the fact that many vegans are not automatic supporters of PETA!

Why Do These Vegan Stereotypes and Myths Exist?

As far as I can tell, these vegan stereotypes and myths mainly exist for the following reasons:

  • Most people don’t know many actual vegans. So stories from the Internet, newspapers, or word of mouth carry more weight in their minds than experiences with actual real-life vegans.
  • The loudest vegans get the most attention. And the loudest critics of veganism get the most attention, too. This means that, from a distance, you are going to see more extremism than moderate vegans. It’s selection bias.
  • People want to be able to dismiss vegan arguments. Vegans can be threatening (and annoying) to meat-eaters because we’re essentially accusing them of doing something ethically bad by eating animals. This causes guilt for some. So they want to find reasons to dismiss us and the vegan message.
  • Stories about deficient, scrawny, or stupid vegans get the most buzz because people want to feel like there’s justice that the pretentious vegans are getting put in their place, etc. This is especially true when people have genuinely had bad experiences with obnoxious, mean vegans.
  • Corporate food interests have a financial stake in veganism looking bad. Question: Who profits when people think vegans are crazy and unhealthy? Answer: The meat, dairy, and egg industries. I’m betting some of the misinformation out there stems from this fact.
  • Confirmation bias perpetuates it. Once you think some of these stereotypes are real, you look for confirmation. Then you take every instance as proof of an overall trend, whether that trend actually exists or not.

The Truth: Vegans Come in All Different Stripes

To conclude: There are millions of vegans around the world, motivated by many different reasons to pursue this lifestyle. We’re all different.

While there are some interesting kernels of truth behind many of these stereotypes, they simply don’t represent all vegans—and many of them are far from the mark!

Two More Recommendations for Your Plant-Based Journey

1. This is the best free video training I’ve found on plant-based nutrition. You’ll learn how to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and obesity—all with plant-based food. Watch the free “Food for Health Masterclass” here.

2. This is the best vegan multivitamin I’ve found in my 14 years of being vegan. It has vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3—and nothing else. Translation: It only has the nutrients vegans are actually low in. Read my full review of Future Kind’s multivitamin here (with 10% discount).

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