It is one endeavor if you decide to pursue veganism, but it is ENTIRELY another when convincing someone else to do so. You do not have to deal with a stubbornness that is much more taxing to change. Having said that, not everyone is as rigid in their mindset regarding animal ethics and nutrition, plus most people are cognizant enough about environmental well-being to strive towards sustainable practices, including plant-based dieting (although any “weight loss” vegan program entices people quite strongly). Still, it can help, as a vegan (if you are), to provide guidance for anyone who is interested in trying out this lifestyle.
Not all of these tips may help in the same way as being more dogmatic or aggressive. My overall aura is centered around creativity and welcoming others with open arms, but I do not impose veganism on anybody else in such an upfront manner. Listed are simply some tactics that I have found success with when integrating little gems of knowledge about veganism into the lifestyles of others!
- Baby steps. As much as I wish this was not how our government and our culture operated, sometimes people are just not open to changing right away. Implement these new products, destinations, and/or principles gradually if they are not open to veganism as a whole right away. It’s critical to recall that normalized centuries of consuming and utilizing animal products cannot be undone easily as two hours from a documentary or just a week after trying a new plant based diet. However, if they would like to try going vegan overnight, you don’t have to stop them from doing so, but inform them that it may be easier to take incremental changes instead.
- Provide informative resources. Hear me out on this one: the main issue with using broad arguments regarding animal welfare, carbon footprint, and physiological health is that they do not resonate unless you paint an extremely specific depiction of each angle. Simply saying “Eggs still harm chickens” or “The best resources that have worked for me were journal articles and website posts, not necessarily books or documentaries (though I don’t have an issue with either of these). Credentials and extensiveness of resources are crucial–ensure the nutrition basics are cited from registered dietitians and credible doctors (I am currently working on a list of my favorite vegan nutrition sources for the blog, so stay tuned!). Sometimes you can even explain a concept extremely well with a work of fiction, such as Okja and the cannibalism subplot in The Walking Dead (if you choose to research the scenes, please be wary of potentially triggering footage of severe violence and goriness) to explain horrific animal welfare conditions.
- Also, think about the vibe of each resource. Do you prefer people with generally more optimism and moderate views on veganism, or do you prefer people with stronger opinions? For the most part, non-vegans tend to resonate best with resources that are informative but not forceful or dogmatic in their ways, but everyone clicks differently.
- Cook vegan versions of your friends’ and family’s favorite recipes. There are some KILLER vegan renditions on foods, whether they be shaking beef, Shakshuka, cinnamon rolls, or just a creamy macaroni and cheese. Most people believe that you should not start with healthy recipes when introducing vegan home-cooking, but it depends on how healthy (or lack thereof) the rest of your household eats. It wouldn’t practical to introduce vegan fried chicken drumsticks if your family is into baked rosemary chicken breasts, but don’t introduce a raw vegan salad that is oil free, salt free, and sugar free to a family that loves hamburgers. Assess what your loved ones’ most beloved meals are and see if there are viable (do NOT interpret this word lightly–a meal HAS to be tasty, low cost, and relatively easy to prepare.
- Suggest testing vegan products. Applicable to all kinds of vegan products, including skincare, makeup, clothing, and other types of accessories. By far, these products–not food–have been the most challenging because my family members are very much fixated on older but tried-and-true brands such as Shiseido and Origins, as well as leather shoes and handbags. You don’t have to disclose that these products are vegan to begin with, but suggest trying a new brand because they could work just as, if not more effectively–with food products, you can absolutely wait until after the taste-testers give their feedback before disclosing the fact that they are vegan.
- Introduce them to vegan food places (i.e. restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, etc.). You are more than welcome to begin with food service establishments that have vegan options, but something about visiting a restaurant that is entirely plant-based seems incredibly enticing to discover. There is less of a comparison factor when it comes to visiting an entirely vegan restaurant because at a vegan-friendly restaurant, one can order a non-vegan dish and a vegan rendition of the same dish and compare side by side. At a completely plant-based place, you can appreciate the menu(s) in their entirety (though there is a stronger chance of that same restaurant being a whole flop). Request these destinations on a special occasion or just as an excuse to travel somewhere new.
- Be very weary about the types of vegan diets you promote to them. Please do not promote a vegan diet that these individuals will not be able to sustain, whether these diets eliminate food groups, types of food products, restrict one’s nutritive intake, if the recipes are too expensive, the recipes take too much time to cook, or NOTHING that this vegan diet includes tastes good. Emphasize the importance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, spices, but also do not chastise anyone for using a little more salt in their dishes, cooking in oil, or eating a whole tub of vegan cream cheese in one sitting. Don’t classify certain products as “transition” foods just because they taste like an animal product (that eliminates full fat oat milk because it tastes like cow’s milk…so, should I rid my diet of this product too?). Do encourage your loved ones to try all kinds of recipes and substitutes as long as they are experiencing amazing results in terms of health and sustainability. Most importantly, ensure they are consuming enough food to feel satisfied, but primarily with wholesome plant foods, of course. We can save the tubs of soy milk ice cream for later.
- Share evidence of success stories with veganism. Admittedly, the vegan lifestyle is incredibly seductive when you see weight loss before-and-after collages or any transformations where someone has beautified themselves into health. You can use fat loss, muscle gain, acne clear-up, or even anecdotes where people have lowered their cholesterol or alleviated any serious medical conditions. I like sharing experiences of people who remedy skin problems and become fitter with following a vegan diet to others.
- If all else fails: show but do not tell. Say you have followed all of these tips and none of your loved ones gave veganism a chance. Alternatively, they did, but decided to stop after a period of time. Do not shame them or ostracize them. The arguments for veganism may not register as quickly with most people as it does for others–maybe it takes an unfavorable visit to the doctor’s office or a visit to an animal sanctuary to change anything. You have done the best you can. In this case, now is the time to enjoy veganism at its pinnacle. Create your favorite vegan dishes and watch the content of your favorite vegan YouTubers. Your loved ones will see how happy and healthy you are and feel inspired.
- Having said that, if you are experiencing certain health complications that may be initiated by your vegan diet, I highly recommend you consult with a registered dietitian and turn to the most objective and informed resources on vegan nutrition to re-structure your diet.
What are your best tips to helping people go vegan?