This is something I’ve wanted to discuss with regard to falling out of love with veganism. It is a lifestyle that can bring a mindset and accompanying behaviour that can leave you alienated within the group of people you are in. This is especially true of ethical vegans, who tend to struggle more than health vegans with the presence of non-vegans. It can be very easy to let your frustrations come to the surface and render yourself kind of unapproachable and consequently, un-friend-able.
Getting family and friends to understand
This is pretty much what it’s all about. I’ve seen so many pleas for help on vegan pages about how to get parents, partners and best buds to accept the new lifestyle choice without disputes or even full blown arguments. I consider myself quite lucky in that my family mostly don’t really care what I do (I live very far away from all of them and rarely see them). My mum is extremely supportive and though she was worried about the health side of things, she’s seen I didn’t die of protein deficiency and the vegan thing is no longer even a point of conversation any more. My dad provided some obligatory stereotypical jibes and remarks but on the whole was fine. As for friends, I have a small group of very decent people to call my friends who have been supportive in that they make sure there are vegan options when we get together, but other than that, they don’t mention it. And that, for me, is just how I want it. I didn’t talk about my eating habits with friends before I went vegan and I have no desire to now. If you want to extoll the values of a vegan lifestyle, your close inner circle are not the people to do that with. There are plenty of other places you can use to scratch that itch, if that’s your thing.
When they don’t understand
Honestly, I think the best way to deal with family and friends who refuse to accept or understand the lifestyle is to simply carry on with it on your own as you would if they did. Let them know you accept their lack of acceptance instead of getting into arguments and heated discussions with them and then carry on with making your vegan lunch. Show them it doesn’t matter if they believe in it or not and they’ll soon back off. In my experience, the best way to make people understand that veganism is not so ‘weird’ is to have them see how normal your life actually is. Let them see that you eat really well. Let them see that you don’t have problems ordering in restaurants. Let them see that you don’t suddenly feel the need to get into huge ethical debates every time they say they fancy a cheese burger. Of course, if they expressly ask for your input about a vegan subject, by all means, provide it…in that nice way…where you make sure they know they brought the subject up, not you (We see you…).
It’s crucial to tread carefully around the people you care about when you move to a vegan lifestyle. You don’t want to alienate yourself – as a vegan you’ll feel enough of that anyway. Don’t distance yourself from your family and friends or you’ll feel extremely lonely and that certainly won’t make being a vegan very pleasant for you. It can be all too easy to get frustrated when you love the vegan lifestyle so much and you simply want others to ‘get it’ and live it with you, but that’s simply unrealistic. The best tactic, in my opinion, is show them you’re living your best life, you’re happy and you’re still the person they’ve always known. You’re just a whole lot healthier and happier!