Going vegan can be a big lifestyle change, especially if you don’t have any vegan family or friends around you.
Perhaps the people in your life don’t even know what a vegan is, or worry about how you’ll get enough nutrients into your body. There are so many myths and misconceptions about it, that talking about veganism to family and friends can seem tough and daunting. Even existing vegans say that they are the hardest people to speak to about the lifestyle, because they’re so close to them emotionally. But with a little care and insight, it doesn’t have to be that way!
So how about talking about veganism to family and friends? What is the best way to approach it and maintain those relationships?
Talking About Veganism To Family And Friends – 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 we talk about it in the wrong way. If you’re a new vegan, you need support so that you can keep you enjoying your journey. If you don’t have any other vegans around you, perhaps there is someone who can at least understand what you’re doing and encourage you?
Respect is also important. Talking about veganism to family and friends needn’t be a chore every day. If there is somebody who mocks or ridicules you constantly for being vegan, have a quiet word with them and tell them how you feel about it. Agree not to talk about veganism together, seeing as you have different points of view.
You’ll also 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’ll accept it more quickly. You can also use celebrities or sports stars as great examples.
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 just 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 own veganism with love, rather than ridicule. Listening to family and friends is also important, rather than talking at people, as you’ll find out what they think about veganism, any reservations they might have, and if they’re worried about you. Just remember: you’re not a failure if those around you still eat meat or disagree with the lifestyle. That’s a whole lot of pressure to put on yourself!
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 do 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 very first time they’ve spoken about veganism, 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? There are also people who love to know facts and research, whilst others put more emphasis on your personal experience. Consider what will benefit your audience the most. 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 and plant-based. 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. I even offered a vegan family dinner! 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 own individual belief system and is going on their own journey through life. We can educate and drip-feed information, sure, but that doesn’t mean our family and friends will instantly get the passion about veganism that we have. It may take a little time, and you planting constant seeds. Perhaps it will never happen for them? You need to be ok with that outcome too. Talking about veganism to family and friends isn’t a straight path.
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 take 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 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 out with the strangest things!
The biggest thing I like to do is avoid such conversations. Especially having a social media presence as Learner Vegan, it can be easy to get sucked into arguments with trolls, farmers, or anti-vegans. 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 are completely unreceptive to veganism, perhaps using any excuse available to argue against it, they’re probably not worth debating with. Just acknowledge their point of view, and switch the conversation. There are so many people out there that we can educate and chat with instead. 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. You can state that you disagree, and that you are loving your vegan lifestyle, and leave it there. If you talk with negativity or anger, it doesn’t help the cause at all!
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 is not 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 are not 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 those good 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!
PS. You should also grab my FREE Action Plan: ‘From Junk Food Mom To Nourished Vegan!’ It includes 5 steps I took to ditch the junk food from my diet, lose 28lb and gain energy.