Anyone who has been vegan for any length of time has likely heard the words, “You’re vegan? That must be so hard!” at least a few hundred times. My reaction when people say that to me is to deny it – and I probably deny it so vehemently that the asker is likely to think, ‘She doth protest too much…” To me being vegan ISN’T hard – but I’ve been vegan for a long time, and it’s just the way I live. Still, I’ve been thinking lately that maybe denying how “hard” it is, is NOT the best tactic.

I’ve been thinking this because I have, in the past six months, been involved with a newly formed vegan potluck in my town that is attracting A LOT of veg-curious souls. These people want to eat more plant foods but they don’t know where to start. They want to expand their repetoire of recipes, and meet other people who are thinking about veganism, vegan food, and healthier eating. Some of them are interested in talking about factory farming and testing on animals, and the environmental effects of eating animal foods. To many of them eating vegan IS hard – now. And I am realizing more and more that if longtime vegans are prepared to really listen to people who are interested in veganism, we will be much better able to help them make a successful transition that they can, and want to, stick to.

As for how to respond to that often dropped “That must be so hard!”, one suggestion made by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau in her fabulous book Vegan’s Daily Companion is that when you are faced with comments or questions like this, to pose a counter-question, rather than answering – such as, in this case, “What do you think is so difficult about being vegan?” to start a conversation and engage the other person. Even if the person who asks you the question is someone you don’t think is interested at all in eating vegan, answer carefully. You never know.

How do you respond to this comment?

Or, if you’re a new vegan and you have made this comment (or one like it) at some point, what’s the best response you have ever received?