Friday, 15 June 2012

Dealing with Friends and Family

By Caitlin, Vegan Pledge Buddy 2011 & 2012

One of the trickiest things about going vegan, once you’ve more or less got eating down, can be dealing with family and friends. It can be very difficult, especially at first; however, things do tend to get better over time, as people come to accept your decision to be vegan. Partners, friends, and family can sometimes take going vegan as a personal attack (food is closely interwoven with culture and identity), so it’s important to make it clear that you’re rejecting animal products, NOT your friends and family. 

I've found it's generally best to tell people you’ve gone vegan at a ‘neutral’ time (if you can avoid it, don’t do it over a meal, or during a party or holiday like Christmas), and to just casually mention it rather than making a big deal of it. It’s also usually better to avoid discussing the whys of being vegan over meal; if someone does bring it up I usually tell them I’d prefer to discuss it after the meal (people can get defensive if you tell them why you feel eating meat is ethically wrong whilst they chomp down on a burger).

It’s definitely best to tell someone well in advance of going to stay with them or going to their place for a meal. If going to a dinner party, I’ve usually found it’s best to mention it well in advance, and then to offer to bring something vegan that everyone can share (if you think they won’t be offended by you offering to bring food), or to offer to give them a few recipes or point them to a good cookbook (if you know they want to make all the food themselves). 

I also think it helps to have some vegan friends, so you don’t feel like you’re the only one! I’ve found it helpful to get involved in some vegan groups (like London Vegan Meetup). Generally I’ve also found the best way to convince people that veganism is cool and fun is to feed them lots of good vegan food, so if you can cook or buy some really nice vegan food to feed to friends and family, they will eventually realize it’s not so weird after all.

Be prepared for lots of questions, especially at first. It may be helpful to think through your answers to some common questions about veganism before you broach the subject with friends and family who you know will ask a lot of questions. 
Sometimes when people get defensive (because they may see veganism as a criticism of their own habits), their questions may come across as an attack, but usually people are just genuinely curious. Try to remain calm when being questioned, and don't be afraid to say you'd rather discuss it at another time. Also prepare to be asked the same questions many times by many different people. And if, after telling most of your family and friends, you get bored of being asked the same questions, you can always play defensive omnivore bingo!

You can find more from Caitlin on her blog at

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