But seriously, how do we get to make new friends or break the news to old ones and get them to NOT hate us for being vegan?
Here is a scenario that often gives vegans a bad name:
You meet someone new, they find out you are vegan, then they get genuinely curious about your life style (not in a bad or disrespectful way, they may just be someone who never really gave much thought to this aspect of their lifestyle choices for one reason or another). Then you immediately feel indignant and truly appalled by their lack of awareness and start educating them straight away about the oblivion they’ve been living in.
This is one way to get people thinking vegans are extreme and actually lack any emotional intelligence whatsoever! Now here are
9 Intelligent Ways To Act When You Tell’m You’re Vegan
Don’t: Be an activist (in a pushy way)
Trying to force veganism on others isn’t going to get you anywhere. In fact, it will probably just isolate people who are actually generally interested in veganism and might have made the conversion.
The best activism you can do is to lead by example, and this involves educating people in a polite, intelligent way (if we are aiming to cause no harm to animals, this includes kindness towards our fellow humans as well!). State your reasons for being vegan only if being asked, and do so in a kind, friendly manner – try to smile as much as possible. If you know the person, start with something you know they will feel connected to. For example, if your friend care about pollution, start with the environmental reasons for following a vegan lifestyle.
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t judge other people for their choice to eat animal products. If you do, you are just opening up the door for them to judge you. And I doubt you are perfect! Judging others will also put them on the offensive. You’ll end up hearing a lot of stupid and illogical comments like “humans were meant to eat meat” or “what about all the field mice who are killed to grow vegetables?”
Don’t: Talk about your diet until asked
Just because you are excited about going vegan, it doesn’t mean you’ve got to shout it off the rooftops. Wait until the appropriate moment to tell people you are now vegan – like before going to a friend’s for dinner. Don’t start discussing your reasons why or any other aspects unless the person specifically asks. Then, only offer information. Don’t force it. “If you are interested in my reasons for going vegan, I will happily provide you with some articles and links to websites.”
Don’t: Get defensive
Yes, there will be some jerks who consider your choice to go veg as a personal affront to their “right” to eat meat. But most aren’t like this – so don’t instantly get defensive just because someone asks a stupid question like “where do you get protein?” Instead, stay positive. Instead of answering the protein question with an angry “you don’t need meat to get protein!” you could instead say “I’ve just discovered tempeh! It is low fat, loaded with protein, and tastes awesome in a burrito.”
Don’t: Talk about other people’s diet
You are going to make people hate you if you constantly talk about what they are eating along the lines of “do you know where that burger came from?” Just say how great your veggie burger is and offer a bite.
Do: Keep focus on yourself
When someone asks why you are vegan, we have a tendency to turn it around and speak in terms of “you”:
By going vegan, you will feel a lot more energetic.
By going vegan, you will help save animals and the planet.
By going vegan, you can experience a lot of health benefits.
If you do this, then you are going to get people feeling defensive about their own choices – and defensive people stop being so open minded. Instead, make sure you always talk about your reasons for going vegan on a personal level. So, say something along the lines of “Ever since I’ve gone vegan, I’ve felt great and even lost 5 lbs. And the diet is in line with my moral beliefs for animal rights and the planet.”
Do: Be creative with ordering
Going out to eat at restaurants can be challenging as a new vegan. Instead of ordering obnoxiously by asking a series of questions about the ingredients, just ask what vegan-friendly dishes they have. Better yet, call the restaurant ahead of time to figure out what your options are. Or, look for dishes which are almost vegan and ask for a substitution: “I’ll have the brick oven calzone with roasted vegetables and extra spinach. Hold the cheese.”
Do: Be specific
Surprisingly, not everyone knows what a vegan is. Heck, not everyone even knows what an animal product is (some people still think eggs are vegetables!). So, it is best to be specific. Like if you have to go to a dinner party, tell the host beforehand that you “do not eat meat, fish, eggs, cheese, butter, or milk”. Otherwise, you could end up with some surprises on your plate and will be in the awkward position of having to refuse it in front of everyone.
Do: Stick with it (even if you slip up)
A lot of vegans slip up (either accidentally or because of failures of willpower). Don’t let these slipups destroy your attempt to go vegan! If you thought people hated you as a vegan, just wait until you are an ex-vegan. No one likes a quitter!
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