Dealing with Omnivores as a vegan is tough. I’m not sure that the title is appropriate, but sometimes we feel that all we can do is “deal” with meat-eaters. I suppose I could have as easily named this article, “Interweaving Two Lifestyles in the Same Home,” ”Living in a Society of Omnivores,” ” Proper Vegan Etiquette,” or “Things Meat-Eaters Say.” Either way, I will cover these topics in the following post and get down to what causes the awkward barrier between our two very different lifestyles.
Going vegan (plant-based) is by far the healthiest change that you could ever make for yourself. It is firm bedrock from which a happy, healthy, plentiful, and sustainable life can be created. But, although it may seem like a completely peaceful way of life from the outside, once you become vegan, you may find yourself constantly defending your diet and newfound love for the planet. I want to say that this is completely normal, but I’m not completely sure of that. Instead, I’ll say that this has been my experience and may be yours too.
Things to remember after making the switch to plant-based:
We went plant-based for one of three reasons: for ourselves (health), for the planet (sustainability), or for the love of animals. Perhaps, you did it for all three at the same time. No matter what your reason, you probably didn’t make the switch for someone else. There are some rare occasions of people changing their meat-eating diet for a girlfriend/boyfriend or wife/husband. That motive is perfectly ok (in fact, I encourage it), but understand that it may cause hardship down the road; it could cause you to resent the person for whom you made the switch.
The bottom line
Nobody made us change our diet and we shouldn’t expect others to change with us. In fact, we can’t even expect for them to understand. Weren’t we once just as uninformed?
But just like anyone who feels that they’ve made the discovery of the century, we want to share it with all who we come into contact with. The problem is, not everyone wants to hear it. Actually, hardly a soul that still eats meat, eggs, milk, or cheese is going to let you finish two sentences before jumping in to defend their “top of the food chain” status – And it’s their right to do so.
5 Rules for Better Conversation:
These are my own personal rules for dealing with omnivores as a vegan and you can use them too. They are very simple, but have helped to keep me from overstepping my boundaries with others.
1. Check your motives before engaging in dialogue about plant-based nutrition
We are not better than anyone! If you have made the change to vegan for egotistic reasons, you have completely missed the point; we should be compassionate people, loving everyone and everything. If you find yourself feeling superior to omnivores, remember that you were once on a similar diet. Besides, we are all human and should be friendly to one another.
2. Keep in mind who you are talking to
Are they an omnivore, vegetarian, or vegan? Do you even know? I often find my foot in my mouth when talking to vegetarians. Remember that they still eat eggs and cheese. You should check their dietary stance before completely bashing the egg and dairy industry. If you’re not sure and don’t want to ask, then don’t mention your stance. Although I know that it’s awesome, there are an abundance of other things that we can discuss besides our plant-based lifestyle.
3. Don’t mention your diet unless someone else brings it up first
So many times we may think we hear our cue to jump into a debate with others. Refrain from mentioning your lifestyle change unless someone has a sincere desire to correct their own eating behaviors. If someone mentions that they are having achy joints, I tell them about how removing dairy and adding kale and other leafy greens has completely eliminated similar pain I had in my joints. If they take to it, great! If not, I don’t worry about it. I said what I needed to say and I leave the rest up to them.
4. Avoid negativity towards other people’s diets –
I’m not saying that you should agree that meat-based diets are healthy. And I’m certainly not asking you to promote them. What I’m saying is don’t get so upset with the meat and dairy industry that you take it out on the consumers. Honestly, the meat and dairy industries have some of the best marketing tactics that I’ve ever seen. Who didn’t believe at some point that they needed more protein in their diet? I did! I drank milk until it nearly put me under. Some vegans still believe this and I encourage you to read this article on the matter.
5. Don’t engage in every fight you’re invited to
This can be difficult when you find someone ripping on the lifestyle that you cherish. Don’t take it personally – it’s probably not even aimed at you. I see people defending their omnivore diet on a daily basis. And that’s exactly what it is – Defending. It is of human nature for people to defend their beliefs and we all do it.
Sometimes it’s better to just walk away from an argument, even if it’s online. We are not going to prove anything to anybody by putting them down in the heat of a dispute.I hope that these simple rules will help you to maintain healthy relationships between yourself and the ones you love as you trudge the road to nutritional independence.
We often think of a vegan diet as a peaceful way of life – and it should be! But we have to do our part to overcome the barriers that divide us from our meat-eating counterparts. The barrier is thin, and more and more people are figuring out that a whole-food plant-based diet is the way to go. Let’s not be the reason they return to a diet that involves animal suffering and the demise of our planet.
I am interested to know about your experiences – What have you encountered when talking to others about your plant-based diet? How did you get through it?