I think we’ve all met some people who seem to excel in giving vegans a bad name. We’ve all met them, but we don’t have to become them. Here are a few tips to remain in the good graces of those who don’t share your vegan-esque views.
1. Don’t preach. Seriously.
As tempting as it is, don’t lecture your dinner companions on the dangers of casein and how it’s linked to high cancer and diabetes rates. And never, ever start a sentence with “You probably don’t know this, but..."
2. Don’t condemn anyone.
I've eaten with other vegans at the homes of non-vegans and I want to slap those “icky faces” off of them as they watch their carnivorous friends chow down on a plate full of ribs. People have the right to choose what they put in their bodies. If asked about your lifestyle choices, keep it focused on why you're vegan…not why someone else should be.
3. Realize that at some restaurants, you may be having salad…again.
Don’t complain. If you’re going out to eat with friends or family, check the menu online before you get there and figure out what you can eat. Most restaurants will be happy to add or subtract items or cook in oil instead butter if you ask. Some restaurants (even steakhouses!) have a separate menu just for vegans. Aren’t YOU special!
4. Remember basic manners.
If your neighbor makes you chicken soup because she heard that you were sick, don’t tell her, “Oh I’m sorry, I’m vegan and I don’t eat that.” Instead, take the soup, do whatever you want with it, hand back the empty container and tell her how much you appreciate the nice gesture of making it for you. (You don’t have to tell her it was delicious.)
If you’re at someone’s birthday party, put a sliver of cake on your plate. Whether you sit there and push it around to make it look like it’s been nibbled (a trick that has become quite useful) or eat it, there’s good energy behind that food, so try not to refuse it.
5. Don’t allow yourself to feel different.
You are the ray of light on a new horizon! You are a teacher! An example of health and compassion! YOU are the cool one! (yeah you are). If you sometimes feel like an outcast, remember, “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
6. Be nice!
Not everyone will agree with your lifestyle decision and some may even tell you that your choices will make you sick. Just smile and realize that it’s OK because God loves everyone. (Even the know-it-alls.)
7. Lead by example, not lecture.
Have you ever heard the story about when the sun and the wind had a contest to see who could make a man remove his overcoat? The wind blew fiercely in an attempt to blow the coat off the man, but the man just pulled his coat closer to him. The sun, however, shined warmly and gently on the man and he soon removed his coat by himself.
You may be someone’s first exposure to a vegan lifestyle. Maybe the things you say as well as the way you say it will get them to think about their own way of eating.
Let’s be good examples and all just get along.