When I first transitioned into my meat-free diet five years ago, I was on a mission to convert everyone around me. I wasn’t persuaded by a friend, I just stumbled across a video of a slaughterhouse one day, then started doing more research. I had finally learned the ugly truth and I felt that it was my duty to spread my newfound knowledge. Parading around and telling my friends and family they were horrible people for consuming animals did not help the cause at all. After a couple weeks, I realized that my tactics were doing more harm than good. Nobody wants to be shamed into new eating habits and nobody likes a snobby vegan. If I wanted to make any difference, I needed to find new ways to convince people.
Many people cannot imagine a life without hamburgers or spicy chicken sandwiches, and I used to be one of those people. Actually, I was hooked on shrimp. I used to eat an absurd amount of shrimp. Once I was told of the environmental and health benefits of vegan, as well as all the cruelty to animals, I said bye-bye to my favorite food. If people are willing to hear what you have to say, talk with them about the reasons why you decided to change your diet. Cover the bases — ethical, environmental and health. If they are not interested in what you have to say, don’t waste your breath, the conversation will most likely turn into an argument.
If people do not have any interest in what you have to say, let your food do the talking. It is important to clear up the myths such as all that vegans eat are twigs and berries. Cooking your favorite meatless meal for others is a great way to get them interested. Perhaps you could cook a dish with dairy substitutes to show them that faux-cheese is nothing to fear, I know I was a bit skeptical of it at first. Make them something packed with protein to defeat the rumors that vegetarians don’t get enough. You could also give them a few of your recipes to try out at home. People will not deny delicious food!
Encourage others to take part in Meatless Monday. Cutting out the cruelty one day a week is a great way to transition to a meatless diet. Point out that some restaurants give discounts if you participate in Meatless Monday. Ask local restaurants to provide vegan options. If the restaurant agrees to add vegan options to the menu, its customers may give the dish a shot and get some buzz going around town.
If you did not inspire a change in one’s eating habits, at least you gave them knowledge. Just having a conversation with them is an accomplishment, because that is one more person who is aware of the benefits of veganism. Maybe sometime down the road they will remember your words and make changes to their dinner plate.
Inspiring someone to go meatless for one day a week — vegetarian or vegan — is great! It can sometimes be quite a feat to get someone to change their eating habits while sometimes it can be easy. Who knows, you may have already convinced someone without knowing it!