No matter what your reasons for being vegan, there’s never a bad one. Whether it’s your love of animals, your concern for the environment, or your health (or all three), each and every reason is 100 percent valid and we think it should be celebrated. But, not everyone thinks like us, do they? There is always going to be that one friend or family member who tries to derail your intention with a question or judgement on your new way of life. I know, I get it. I’ve been there too. And if you haven’t had one of the following awkwards conversations yet, it’s likely you will do in the future, so here’s some strategies on dealing with them.
- What do you/will you eat?
Aaaah, this question is so predictable and weirdly it always seems to be one of the first questions asked. Yes, meat and fish do make up a food group. Milk, eggs, cheese another. But what about grains, nuts and legumes? Vegetables and fruit? You get where we’re going with this. If someone poses this cliched question to you, gently remind them that while there’s only so many types of meat and dairy you can eat, there are literally hundreds of fruit and vegetables to choose from. Then let’s put those in combination and add in grains, nuts and legumes. And while there’s definitely an adaptation period as you change the way you cook and think about food, it’s pretty safe to say you’re not going to starve.
- Oh my gosh, how can you give up chocolate? Cheese? Bacon? I just love the taste of meat too much…
This is another classic that’s rolled out all the time. Sometimes, if someone has more knowledge on the topic, they may also ask you about giving up leather or wool. Generally speaking, this seems to be the conversation that’s intent on reminding you of all the things you’ll be giving up (and perhaps for your friend to justify why it’s not possible for them to join you). For some, it ‘s chocolate or cheese. For most people, giving these up is as hard AF. Luckily there’s some incredible alternatives to the things we love most. As a former chocoholic, I love Tom & Luke’s salted caramel snack balls – they’re to die for. While not everything tastes exactly like the original, many come pretty damn close. Some are even better than the original. And without all the baggage.
- I’d love to become vegan. But it’s just too hard.
Sure, it’s not for everyone and yes, it can sometimes be hard. But really, it’s all about how you view things. Learning about what happens to animals before they become our food is pretty hard too. And once you know the truth, it’s also really hard to unknow it. Ditto when you understand how our dietary choices impact the planet. And our health. Suddenly becoming vegan (and your reasons for staying vegan) become a whole lot easier, so just remind your friend of that.
- It’s going to ruin your social life and will be impossible to eat out.
Luckily, with all the new vegan food choices, eating out is no longer the hassle it used to be. When magazines start featuring the latest vegan cafes and bars, you know there’s something afoot. Not only are all the hippest cafes including vegan options, there’s so many that are solely dedicated to vegan food and drinks. And speaking of drinks, there’s plenty of vegan wines, beers and cocktails on offer, pretty much everywhere these days.
- But if we don’t eat animals, we’ll be overrun. What’s the point of animals if not used for food?
Honestly, does this even warrant a response? This super-frustrating offering might also be tied up with “God created animals to be eaten”. Let’s just remind those well meaning friends and family that apparently Noah built a boat with instructions from God to save animals. Not humans. As for being overrun by animals, well, this goes back to an assumption that animals are on this earth solely for human use and consumption. There’s a name for this. Speciesism. Along with racism and sexism, I’m simply not buying it. And neither are you.
- Where will you get your protein from? B12? Iron?
Yawn. Lucky for all of us, there’s so much information on nutrition these days that pretty much debunks all the old myths. And science literally backs it all up. As nearly all vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds contain some, and often a lot of, protein, this makes it quite easy to meet the recommendations for protein on a vegan diet. While B12 can be a little more challenging, the trick is to include fortified foods in your diet such as cereals and almond, soy, hemp or coconut milk and if that’s all too hard, a daily supplement works just as well. As for iron, dried beans and dark, leafy greens along with tofu, pumpkin seeds and dried apricots will have you covered. Eating them with foods rich in vitamin C also increase iron absorption.
- Wow, really? Tell me more. How inspiring. I’ve always wanted to try it. I might even join you.
This is the conversation that makes you feel all warm inside. To have someone who’s interested in why you made the switch to vegan and not feeling the need to defend their own position is the best! Grab these people and hold them tight. They’ll support you on days when it’s tough. Hell, they might even end up becoming vegan too!
By Melissa Hobbs, The Vegan Company
About the Author
Co Founder, The Vegan Company.
Prior to launching The Vegan Company, Melissa co-founded Meat Free Week, an award-winning, global campaign aimed at raising awareness of the impact excessive meat consumption and production has on animals, the environment and human health.
Having traded life in the city and a successful career in magazine publishing for the serenity of coastal-country living, Melissa now lives in northern NSW, Australia with her husband, two daughters and a colourful menagerie.
Melissa believes there’s a huge shift occurring in the way the world views and treats animals and is excited to be a part of the global vegan movement driving this.
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