Going vegan is a big lifestyle change, especially if you don’t have vegan family or friends around you.
Perhaps the people in your life don’t even know what a vegan is, or worry about your nutrition intake. Since there are so many myths and misconceptions about veganism, talking to family and friends can seem daunting. But, it doesn’t have to be that way!
So, what's the best way to approach these conversations, while maintaining those relationships?
Aim For Respect
If you’re a brand new vegan, the real thing you want is support and respect. That doesn’t include trying to get everybody around you to go vegan straight away, or pushing them away if they don’t!
As vegans, we’re often highly passionate about the cause, whether it’s for health reasons or the animals. But this can come across as aggressive or patronising to others.
If you’re a new vegan, you need support so that you can enjoy your journey. If you don’t have any other vegans around you, perhaps there's someone who can at least understand what you’re doing and encourage you?
Talking about veganism to family and friends needn’t be a chore every day. If there's somebody who mocks or ridicules you constantly for being vegan, have a quiet word with them and tell them how you feel. Agree not to talk about veganism together, seeing as you have different points of view.
You’ll gain respect if you answer questions with facts, and speak calmly. Do your research and diffuse any situations by using them. At first, friends and family will likely be curious and want to ask you things about nutrition, meals and more. Show them how happy you are, and how you’ve thought carefully about the lifestyle, and they will see it’s not a fad. It’s benefiting you, and if they see this for themselves, they’re more likely to accept it.
Don’t Aim To Convert People To Veganism
Talking about veganism to family and friends doesn’t have to result in them becoming an overnight vegan. In fact, if people think you’re preaching, or trying to convert them, they’re more likely to shut down on you. Your first aim should be to have positive conversations, and get those around you to accept your decision. Listening to family and friends is also important, as you’ll find out what they think about veganism. Just remember: you’re not a failure if those around you still eat meat or disagree with the lifestyle.
Conversations about veganism are all about planting seeds and setting a good example. You never know who you’re influencing. I’ve had people around me go vegan years after I decided to, which came as a huge surprise! There are also those who have become vegetarian, cut down on meat, or started using more dairy substitutes. Every little change helps the cause, so be proud of any influence you have.
Know Where The Conversation Is Headed
Like in any conversation, be aware of your audience. Are they already familiar with veganism? It may be the first time they’ve heard about it, so perhaps they don’t even know what a vegan is, or what we eat. If so, really simple explanations may be appropriate for them. It’s also great to talk about our own experiences, day to day life, and what we eat, so they can get a brief insight into the lifestyle.
If you think they’re receptive to talking more about veganism, think about what may appeal to them. Are they health fanatics? Animal lovers? Which benefits of veganism can you talk about that will have them sitting on the edge of their seat, asking for more information? Some people love to know facts and research, whilst others put more emphasis on your personal experience. I’ve taken people to vegan stores to buy goodies, held a vegan family dinner, referred them to documentaries, and cooked healthy plant-based meals too.
If you need a little help with explaining how great veganism is, check out the Benefits Of Going Vegan post.
Understand That Vegans Are Rarely Created Overnight
When I first became vegan, I felt incredibly enlightened and educated. I wanted everybody to know what was going on in the animal agriculture industry. The same thing happened again when I began to eat more healthily. I wanted to shout the benefits from the rooftop, and advise the people around me on how they could get rid of tiredness and various ailments. When people weren’t so quick to jump on board and buy into it like me, it was a little saddening and frustrating. Why didn’t they get it?
It’s so important for us to remember that there was a time we weren’t vegan either. We probably even had preconceptions about vegans ourselves! Everybody has their belief system. We can educate and drip-feed information, sure, but that doesn’t mean our family and friends will instantly get passionate about veganism. It may take a little time, or perhaps it may never happen for them. You need to be ok with that outcome too.
Encourage A Curious Learner Vegan!
When talking about veganism to family and friends, you may spot some curiosity or willingness to learn more. Whilst we don’t want to overwhelm or bombard these people with information, it can be good to do something nice for them.
People love kind gestures or treats. You could bring over some delicious vegan cakes next time you see them, along with the recipe (should they want to make them too). Just try to make sure it’s an easy to follow one, so not to scare! You could also invite a group over for a vegan family dinner, or offer to teach them how to make vegan family meals at home. I really love to refer to Vegan Family Recipes blog for a great vegan family dinner.
Handle Vegan Resistance With Ease
Most of us have someone in our life who mocks veganism, or argues against it completely. You may hear things such as ‘vegans are boring’, ‘vegans only eat lettuce’, ‘yum, bacon’, or ‘eating fruit and vegetables kills insects anyway’. People come up with the strangest things!