One day last week, during my lunch break, there were three other people in the break room as I unpacked my lunch. The man sitting across from me said, "Well, that looks like grilled tofu! Is it grilled tofu?"
"Baked tofu," I said.
"Oh, it looks like it could be grilled. I love grilled tofu. Are you vegetarian?"
"Yes," I said, choosing not to launch into a big explanation of the word vegan. Another woman (probably in her late 20s) piped up and said, "Are you vegan?"
"Actually, yes," I said. "And I'm surprised you know what that means, since most people in town have never heard that word before!"
"Are you a true vegan?" she asked.
"Yeah..." I said. (What the hell other kind of vegan is there?!)
"No eggs, no peanuts?" she asked.
"Wait... no peanuts? Peanuts are vegan!"
"Oh, no they're not! A true vegan told me! My sister's boyfriend told me that true vegans don't eat peanuts because they're an animal protein." (At this point, the two other people and I dropped our jaws.)
"Peanuts... are a plant..." I explained slowly. "They come from the ground."
"Oh, I know that," the silly girl said. "But I was told that true vegans don't eat peanuts because they're like an animal protein. Seriously! My sister and I got into a huge argument with her boyfriend over this, but it's TRUE!"
The other two people and I tried to gently remind this woman that peanuts are in no way an animal source, and that peanut protein is an acceptable source of vegan protein. This girl just could not pull her head out of her rear. The discussion ended with me saying, "Well, I have never heard that before in my entire life." She said she'd talk to her sister's boyfriend and get a better explanation, but I really hope she doesn't bring it up again.
I've heard people insist that vegans can't eat peanut butter ("because there's butter in it! Duh!"), but NEVER has anyone tell me that I can't eat peanuts, let alone because it's an ANIMAL protein. It's amazing what little people know about food.