“Not even milk?”
If you’re vegan, you’ve probably heard this question. It may come from friends or well-meaning acquaintances, but the tone remains incredulous.
How to handle such social situations as a vegan?
However, first, let’s look at the two main reasons people become vegan. The first reason is that vegans abhor cruelty to all living things in the name of clothing, accessories or food. The other reason is that vegans know that a diet without meat, fish, dairy products or their derivatives is healthy, sustainable, and therefore better.
It takes a lot of conviction to be and stay vegan. The benefits and logic may be obvious to you, but not everyone believes them. As a vegan, you’ll be faced with social situations where you stand out because you’re vegan, and the comments can range from “How do you survive?” to “What are the benefits?” The first comes from the ignorant. The second from the interested.
Here are 9 tips you can use to handle these situations with grace.
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1. Don’t claim the moral high ground
When talking about food with friends or strangers, don’t claim that veganism is a moral high ground. Most people dislike being proven wrong, especially if they’re stuck in their ways. You’re vegan because you know you’ve made the morally right decision, but you shouldn’t flaunt that decision like a trophy.
2. Don’t mention your favorite topic in every conversation
The most common mistake vegans (especially new ones) make is to talk about veganism every time they meet someone. Please don’t do that. It makes people nervous and can quickly rob you of your sympathy points. Only talk about veganism when food is involved, and only when asked for your opinion.
3. Respect the person you’re talking to
Remember that none of us are born vegans. You learned a lot before you became vegan. Allow others the same latitude. Educate yourself when asked, and please never look down on or comment on others’ eating habits. A quick look at favorite foods in different parts of the world might cure you of this disease.
4. You can’t influence everyone
Once again, people who go vegan want to convert the whole world. That’s not how the world works, and with a little patience you’ll stay socially acceptable with your friends and acquaintances. Be helpful when asked for information, but don’t go soul hunting to reinforce your vegan beliefs.
5. Be logical when asked about the reason for your vegan lifestyle
You’ll inevitably be confronted with questions about why you went vegan. Stick to facts and logic in your answers. If you preach with lots of emotion and few facts, people will turn away. They want to know why you’re vegan, not how you feel about it.
6. Keep your explanations short and to the point
Keep your answers to why you’re vegan short. What you think is an amusing story that supports your point is usually not so amusing to bystanders. Think about why you’re phrasing your answers this way, and communicate it clearly. So, this will help you when you meet a mixed group of friends and strangers.
7. State your preference if asked, if not, look for items that match your practice
Look at the menu if you’re invited to a party. After then, let your friend know if the host is a close friend to prepare vegan dishes. Besides, if many vegans are coming, it helps the host create a menu for everyone.
8. Don’t worry if you can’t find a suitable menu
If you can’t find food at a party that you can safely eat, don’t make a fuss. You’re there to socialize first and eat second. Let’s choose a beverage you like, or ask the host if you can bring your own food. Plus, if other vegan friends are attending, contact them and arrange for vegan food.
9. Balance relationships and food preference
Never let your vegan lifestyle interfere with your relationships. This is especially true with family and extended family. Shortly, you don’t have to give up going vegan to keep friends. You can have your vegan burger. All it takes is a little social grace and understanding from both sides!
We’ve kept the points simple and short, and that’s essentially how you deal with social situations that arise from a lack of understanding about veganism.
Finally, don’t lose your sense of humor. A good laugh can clear up most misunderstandings and keep the party going.
Mohan Raj is an associate at Swag Swami, a blog that reviews the vegan brands of India. Being a Vegan himself, he has been exposed to some of the most delicious South Indian Vegan recipes that have been passed on for generations in the family. He also practices Yoga and meditation regularly and teaches Yoga at the Cosmopolitan Center in India.
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