Editor's note: since the team here at Thrillist mostly subsists on In-N-Out, fried chicken, and other foods that will make the future heart surgeons of America very wealthy, we asked comedian and vegan Myq Kaplan (he even has comedy albums named Vegan Mind Meld and Meat Robot!) to talk about the stupid things people say when you tell them you're vegan (or even vegetarian), and what he says in response:
Do you mind if people eat meat in front of you?
"I don't! I mind factory farming, but if you're eating a meat sandwich (it's been a while, that's what carnivores eat, right? Meat sandwiches?), whether you're doing it across from me, in my peripheral vision, or sneakily behind my back, it's having the same effect on the world, so where you're eating it doesn't affect me. Unless you're trying to make me feel bad specifically by eating meat at me, if that's a thing, in which case I would mind that you're a jerk."
So, you'll eat at a non-vegetarian restaurant?
"Sure! These days, more and more restaurants have vegetarian options, and I like to support them and order those things, because I feel as though my adding to the demand for those items might lead to there being even more of them, especially in aggregate with the demand for those items by other like-minded people. This one's not a joke! Just a real thought. Sometimes that's what life's about. Having real thoughts and sharing them. Ahh. Feels good."
I could never give up cheese.
"No one's asking you to! I mean, a lot of times in life, we humans strive to better ourselves by rising up to face challenges, stretching ourselves to the limits of our comfort zones, and becoming the best that we can be. So, it sounds like a pretty pessimistic attitude to just start off assuming that you are too weak to defeat a desire for cheese. I believe in you more than that! Or maybe I'm just more strong-willed than you AND more strong-willed than cheese. Maybe it's the cheese that's MAKING you weak. It's a vicious circle. You're trapped in the Cheese Matrix."
It must be hard limiting your diet.
"I actually eat way more adventurously than I did growing up, when I mostly just had hot dogs, pizza, pasta, and peanut butter and jelly. Then, when I became a vegetarian in college, I learned about Indian food, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Cambodian, and tons of other things I'd never heard of or considered when I was growing up. Maybe I'm lucky that I grew up so gastronomically limited. But no one can eat everything all of the time anyway (though many are trying, I know, and others are filming it), so in a way, everyone's options are limited. As long as humans are mortal, we can only eat so much in our lifetimes."
You don't know what you're missing!
"I actually do! I ate meat for more than half my life, and then made a choice to stop. So if either of us doesn't know what we're missing, it's you! I'm having the fullest experience possible! Part of life full of meat, and part of life full of non-meat! You're only having one of the two experiences. You're living a half-full life, with respect to this issue, in the way that I framed it to trick and trap you. (The less fun Halloween: 'Trick or Trap?')"
But seriously, you must miss bacon.
"I didn't actually eat a ton of bacon. I was more of a sausage guy. IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. (I mean that I preferred sausage to bacon when I was a meat-eater.) But of course, there were things that I used to eat that I no longer enjoy, but I still eat things that I enjoy. From reading studies about the science of happiness, I understand that most people have something like a maximum that can't be exceeded. Like, parents with one child aren't half as happy as they would be with two children. So, me enjoying food the way I do now makes me just as happy as enjoying food I used to enjoy, if not more. But if you want to think that I'm less happy eating the way I do, you're welcome to do that. I hope it helps you reach the top of your happiness range."
What DO you eat? I mean, how do you stay alive? Like, how do you get your protein?
"I'm actually more interested in how you stay alive. There's a lot of food out there, and I would say most of it isn't meat. Lists of superfoods and other real nutritional powerhouses always include quinoa, hummus, kale, other green things, lots of berries, etc. So I feel like if you don't have access to this information, the real question is 'how do you get your everything-that's-not-protein?'"
Hey, you don't have to be mean about it. Why are vegetarians always such jerks about it?
"They're not! I was only being a jerk here for fun. I thought we were having fun together! What, you got your feelings hurt? What are you, a vegan? With feelings? (Full disclosure: the author is a vegan with feelings.)"
Why do vegans always have to tell people they're vegan?
"Good question! This is the subject of lots of jokes (or at least one joke that people tell a lot) and, more to the point, faulty logic. Why do vegans always tell people they're vegan? Well, you're looking at a skewed sample, because obviously the ones that are telling you are, but you're assuming that everyone who doesn't tell you they're vegan necessarily isn't a vegan. And that's not true. There are plenty of vegans and vegetarians out there who are just going about their business and not getting in people's faces about what they're eating and why -- they're just living their lives. In fact, you could be surrounded by calm, stealth vegans right now. And don't worry! They're not going to kill and eat you like ninja carnivores would."
Myq Kaplan has a new comedy special that's not named after vegetables or meat. It's called Small, Dork, and Handsome and will be available for streaming on Netflix on May 15th.