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Talking About Veganism with Family And Friends

12 Oct 2020

@learnervegan profile image

grandmother and granddaughter

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.

aggressive

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.

share everything except negativity

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.

we need to talk

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?

diana i know the truth

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.

food is magic

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!

no

The biggest thing I like to do is avoid such conversations. It can be easy to get sucked into arguments with trolls, farmers, or anti-vegans, especially on social media. I used to get involved in debates that just sucked my time and energy – energy that I could be using to help somebody actually go vegan. If you’re talking about veganism to family or friends, and they're unreceptive to veganism, just acknowledge their point of view, and switch the conversation. Trying to convince somebody who just wants to argue, will only leave you frustrated and angry.

You can also kill them with kindness. Some people like to get a rise out of others, so just stay calm, thank them for their point of view, and walk away.

When To Walk Away From Vegan Conversations

As mentioned above, sometimes it’s better to walk away from an unproductive conversation. When should you do this?

- If the person isn't receptive to veganism whatsoever.

- If they begin to mock veganism or personally insult you.

- If their body language is aggressive.

- If they are adamant that certain myths are true.

- If they aren't willing to listen to facts you give them, and just talk over you.

- If it’s making YOU emotional or angry. Nobody wants to perpetuate the angry vegan stereotype.

- At the dinner table – talking about animal cruelty while people are tucking into meat can seem judgemental and uncomfortable all round.

Remember: The best way to be an advocate for veganism, and maintain relationships with friends and family, is to just be a shining example! If people see a happy, healthy you, enjoying wonderful food, that just speaks for itself. No words are necessary! And if you need to vent or troubleshoot, join our private Facebook Group and create a new post.

How have you approached talking about veganism to family and friends? Was it effective? I’d love to know!

Follow Learner Vegan for articles, recipes, and much more!

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Responses

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@herbimetal profile image
herbimetal1 YEAR AGO
OMG this is what we need so much thanks! It would've been helpful if I had articles like these when I first went vegetarian 10.5 years ago (now vegan)
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@learnervegan profile image
learnervegan1 YEAR AGO
I'm so glad this helped! I was veggie before vegan too :)
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@herbimetal profile image
herbimetal1 YEAR AGO
Awesome! I'm vegan for 3 years now. How about u?
REPLY
@learnervegan profile image
learnervegan10 MONTHS AGO
7 years vegan! And 12 years veggie before that. It's great isn't it?
REPLY
@herbimetal profile image
herbimetal10 MONTHS AGO
Wow you're amazing. It'll be cool to look back on the journey when I'm even older.
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@veganizandoando profile image
veganizandoando9 MONTHS AGO
Same! That would be amazing. My journey started when I was 11 and Sometimes it can be hard to be vegan, so it’s great to read articles like this one!
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@herbimetal profile image
herbimetal9 MONTHS AGO
Omg you were vegan since 11? Thats crazy young wow
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@brtjohns profile image
brtjohns1 YEAR AGO
It frustrates me to read vegans say, "if you're not vegan you're not really an animal lover," something along that. I see it frequently and wish it would stop. First of all it's simply not true, and second the only thing or person that is helping is your ego.
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@learnervegan profile image
learnervegan1 YEAR AGO
I've seen that too, and I don't really think it helps vegans to 'break the ice' with those around them.
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@herbimetal profile image
herbimetal1 YEAR AGO
I really feel for that statement. It's hard for me to wrap my head around people loving some animals but eating others, but that's the way it is. Many people aren't able to make the connection yet. And making that statement would put people off. I try to avoid making potentially upsetting statements around people.
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@brtjohns profile image
brtjohns1 YEAR AGO
Neither Jane Goodall nor David Attenborough are vegan. They've done more for animal and environmental welfare than we could ever dream.
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@brtjohns profile image
brtjohns1 YEAR AGO
I'm gonna share what I posted on LinkedIn a few months ago:
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@brtjohns profile image
brtjohns1 YEAR AGO
Vegans frequently say, "You cant call yourself an animal lover if you eat them." Please stop. This vain sentiment is simply wrong for many, many people. It's also counterproductive, unquestionably. Your accomplishment here is feeding the obnoxious, self-righteous vegan stereotype, as well as vilifying those who, with the approach of friendly educator as opposed to judge & jury, may have had promising potential to be converted. Let them come to that thought on their own. Your jab for Team Vegan is effectively working against the movement. Back when I ate meat and dairy, I wasnt yet educated on the norms of those nightmare industries. Wasnt trying to contribute to harm. Didnt realize what my spending money was supporting. Didnt know how to ethically shop. But I was certainly an animal lover. I volunteer at a wildlife rehab & education center where the large majority of staff and volunteers are not vegan, most not even vegetarian. Every week for low or no pay, some for 50+ hours per, they strenuously intake and care for hundreds of sick, injured, and abandoned animals to be released back into nature. They go the extra mile via multiple platforms to educate about proper coexistence. Come observe the place for a day; I want to hear you say to their faces they aren't animal lovers.
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@cel3ritas profile image
cel3ritas1 YEAR AGO
Such statements make us aware of the blind spots we might have due to societal indoctrination. Would you agree that, if such statement weren't ever made, the 'animal lovers' you mentioned would never have thought that their food choices were not truly in line with being an animal lover? The same goes for David Attenborough and Jane Goodall (I think they know about it but are just reluctant to change due to the 'usual excuses' ).
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@brtjohns profile image
brtjohns1 YEAR AGO
I would not agree. I don’t agree with that even for myself. It’s an opinion. Unless directly asked for your opinion, I believe it’s best to stick to objectivity when promoting veganism. I likely would not have become vegan if just approached with opinions. What motivated me to adopt this lifestyle was learning of the objective truths, the realities and facts via documentaries, as I shuffled out all the fluff. Seeing the raw footage inside factory farms, labs, circuses and zoos, the stats, comparison of cultural norms, hearing from doctors keeping it real, the fact that healthcare executives sit on the boards of fast food parent companies, etc really ignited my critical thought. Becoming aware of brainwashed blind spots is more potent and more likely to be followed by adjustment when self-realized. Those are primarily the people we’re trying to recruit – open-minded, rational people. There’s no chance with the irrational. Regardless, adopting this lifestyle is a highly difficult, complex thing, especially socially with meat- and dairy-eating friends and family, whether us relatively easily living it want to admit it or not.
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@brtjohns profile image
brtjohns1 YEAR AGO
Besides, "animal lover" is such an ambiguous term. Who knows what that really means; everyone has their own take on how it's measured. I bet the community on here couldn't universally agree on what it means to be an animal lover.
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@amazinganne profile image
amazinganne1 YEAR AGO
I agree with you. Everyone has their own journey.
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@amazinganne profile image
amazinganne1 YEAR AGO
Wow what an uplifting article. I struggled with a partner & a bunch of friends for years that mocked or disregarded my food choice. I had to eat on my own before coming or having to contend with no food at gatherings. Respecting one's food choice or belief is ultimately respecting a person. If the respect is not there, it is not an honoring relationship. I only realized how liberating it is to finally walk away. Now I have a loving vegetarian partner and a few friends who try to find places where we can both enjoy our meals together. If you are also facing this challenge, be brave and choose to surround yourself with friends who really care for you, just as we choose to care for the animals. 💖🌸🌈
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@learnervegan profile image
learnervegan10 MONTHS AGO
That is so true! Plus, you never know who you are influencing by just being you, enjoying your vegan meals, sharing them etc. My husband went vegan 6 years after I did!
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@vikas profile image
vikas1 YEAR AGO
Great tips thank you!
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@learnervegan profile image
learnervegan10 MONTHS AGO
Thanks for your kind words! :)
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