By Sarah Taylor, Author, Vegan in 30 Days
What do you say when people ask you why you eat a veg*n diet? It’s certainly not a common diet in our society and, to many, it may seem next to impossible to endure. You may know why you’ve chosen to eat a vegetarian/vegan diet, but can you explain it eloquently to others?
Many people take two extremes when questioned about their uncommon eating habits – they either don’t want to rock the boat, so they stay very neutral and non-offensive, but don’t really state their case at all, or they take the in-your-face angry veg*n approach, battering the questioner with detailed accounts of the slaughter that took place for that person’s lunch.
Perhaps the best approach – to keep your friends/family in your life and to perk their interest in the diet – is to take the middle way. First, remember that most people in our society have not heard the same information we have heard on the health, environmental or animal cruelty differences between a veg*n diet and a meat-based diet. Was there a time when you didn’t know this information yourself, or someone you know and love didn’t know it? If so, have compassion for your questioner – even if he or she seems argumentative from the start. Tell yourself, “he/she just doesn’t know the information yet,” and proceed to enlighten them in a compassionate way.
One great approach, that allows you to answer without starting an argument or getting in too deep, is to say, “Well, I never really knew how my food got to my table, but then I saw this video that showed exactly what happens in the slaughterhouses, and it literally changed me forever. If you’d like, I’d be happy to tell you more about it, or I can forward a link to a 5-minute video on YouTube (or book or other resource) that would explain a little better about why I eat this way.” This approach allows people to open the door and ask you more, or shut the door, but you still get to send them information that might make your case for you.
If you have family and friends who question where you get your protein, calcium, iron, etc, remember that they (like all of us) were brought up to believe that these nutrients are crucial to our health and we can only get them from meat and dairy. Once you’ve centered yourself in a place of compassion, explain where you do get your protein and calcium to allay their concerns. You can always recommend books for them to read too.
It can be hard to be in such a minority that traditionally has been looked upon as strange or weird. But times are changing, and vegetarians and vegans are slowly becoming more mainstream. You can help bring more people to this way of life by being open to their questions – even if they seem argumentative – and explaining succinctly, eloquently and compassionately why you have chosen this way of life. One by one, we will all make a difference!