Posted by hole72 at 01/02/2014
Becoming vegetarian was much easier than I had expected and transitioning to vegan has been even easier. I don't have any nutritional issues. I work out 6 days/week and have never felt better. My only problem is that I live in an area not very receptive to my changes. I do not force my beliefs on others, but they notice the change in my diet. They have a very hard time accepting my choice, but when they find out why (ethics and environment) it becomes almost unbearable. It has gotten to the point that I don't enjoy eating out with them, and my phone is inundated with crap. Any advice on getting them to back off.
First, Congratulations on going not only vegetarian but also vegan! Wow! That is amazing!! And especially doing it in a situation where you have no/little support is an extraordinary testament to your awesomeness.
In short, my advice is you have to own it. It's your body, your health, your spirit. You simply cannot give even the smallest crap about what anyone thinks about your decision. Once you truly have adopted that attitude, others notice and usually back off. It's YOUR decision about what to put into YOUR body. Generally, once people realize that you're not forcing your beliefs on them AND they see that they can't get a rise out of you by giving you a hard time, they begin to relax.
You haven't mentioned who the "them" is. Is it friends, family, both? Meat eaters often feel threatened. What you're experiencing is very common. Often in cases of a family member or spouse going veg*n, the meat eater feels they are losing an important bond with the person going veg. In those cases where you can have a heart to heart talk, it helps to reassure them you will still be sharing meals and often be eating some of the same things, just not all of the same things and that sharing time with them is what's most important, much more important than what's on the plate.
Whether it's family or friends, one thing most meat eaters have in common is they get defensive. They feel threatened. This is usually b/c even if you don't force your beliefs on anyone at all, your very decision to go veg forces them to think about their own eating choices and they hate that. People don't want to think about where their burger came from. Being around you at meal time reminds them of the unpleasantness of the fact that bacon had a mom. So they get defensive to try to keep up their wall of denial.
If I were you, I'd do a quick search for a veg-friendly MeetUp group near you. Virtually every major city has one. For example, Atlanta has a Vegetarian & Vegan Group with over 2,000 members! Atlanta even has a vegetarian-friendly book club. Being around other veg*ns for a little bit may be the breath of fresh air you need.
Check this out:
I have tried a couple clever responses with friends and family and it seems to make light of the situation for me. For example, when I say I'm vegan and people respond with "vegan? really?" I've taken to replying with "Yes, vegan. It's code word for hard to feed at dinner parties". Although that isn't true - it starts off the conversation in a friendly manner. I then carry on to explain that I make the veggies at dinner my best friend and it's easier than people think.
My other tool that has helped me is downloading "My fitness Pal" on my smartphone. I kept a food log for a bit and it totals my protein intake for the day (as well as my vitamins, carbs, fats, etc). My mom is an RN so she was worried I wouldn't eat the right amount of calcium, iron, protein (the usual. Once I was able to show her my food log and provide evidence that I was indeed eating correctly, she didn't have the same concern for my diet. This in turn helped my dad and brother relax on the issue because they saw how my mom wasn't as concerned.
I don't know if my experiences will be able to help you, however I thought I would share for the off chance that they would :)
Best of luck!! I hope your friends listen to reason!
The Hammer01/14/2014 04:34:07
face it, they never were your friends to begin with. Dump them, change your telephone number. Its hard, kid, but its the truth.
I have both veg friends and non veg friends, if they cant handle the fact that i am vegan, they simply are not friends, and the other way is true also, if i cant handle that they are not veg but eat meat and eat lobster LOL, i also am not their friend.
Move on dont waiste your time. :-)
The Hammer01/14/2014 19:30:53
i would like to add that after i become vegan i did "loose" non veg friends that couldn't handle it LOL but also other non veg friends did stay friends, AND after becoming vegan, new friends that i made were both vegans and non vegans.
Also i never tried to package my veganism into funny soundbites or jokes just to please other people, to not offend them or "fit in". I never preach to other people but i also speak when i want to say something, no self censorship. Real friends simply listen and respect what you say and are not afraid of a real conversation.
I agree with happycowgirl about meat eaters feeling threatened. That is certainly something I felt when I first went vegan and heard some of the responses of people I know. I find some people get very defensive over their "right" to eat meat. I just tell them yes they do have a right if they choose to do so, I also have a right to choose not to without getting abuse!
I suppose with your friends it depends on whether they are acting like this because they are concerned about your health/lifestyle/loosing you as a friend, or if they are just being mean.
With regard to making light of the subject and even having a bit of a joke about it, I think when it comes to some people its the only way to handle it. I have a friend who is a real joker, a nice guy but always poking fun at people in a good natured way. He takes as well as he gives so when he makes jokes about my veganism i have no problem with laughing along and telling him he might loose a few pounds and look as good as me if he stops eating so much meat!
I've been lucky that the majority of my family and friends have been really supportive but for some it took a bit of time for them to come round to the idea, mainly out of concern because they thought I was going to waste away and become some lettuce eating recluse but I proved them wrong!
The only person who still has an issue with it is my grandmother. She thinks its ridiculous and will make catty comments to me and also to my sisters when I'm not there. She's my family and I love her but it's hard work! I hope things work out for you :-)
For the first time I have used social media for good and have found great resources such as yourself. Since the outset I have truly felt like I have been morally right on this. I have felt alone and over-matched by my crossfit paleo (male and female) and my christian (mostly male for some reason) friends.
The most surprising thing has been it has all been instigated by them. I knew what I was doing was right. My guilt from not doing this sooner kept me from even really talking about my decisions along with a lack of in depth knowledge of all the benefits to myself and the world.
I am now getting better each day and the advice you share is very valuable. Blackcat I am sorry to hear about your grandmother, I wouldn't want to experience that with family, sounds like you have the attitude to handle it. Thanks again
I'm sure it is a challenge dealing with the carnists in your life. Everybody has to deal with this, you just have it more intensely. If there is a health food store in your area, I would go talk to the staff there and tell them you need to meet some vegetarians for support. I'm sure they will help you find similarly-minded people in your area.
If you feel that your diet is healthier, you may wish to add that you do it for health, environmental and ethical reasons. They might accept that a little easier. You might want to check out nutritionfacts.org which I find to be a helpful tool in getting access to research on foods, presented in an easy to understand format.
What you are doing is ethically just and I hope you enjoy the world as a vegan as much as I do, despite the social challenges. You are really a pioneer in your area, so you have to be strong to help veg*s that come after you.