How to Convince Stubborn Non-Vegans
Or at least give it your best effort
For most of my life, I've been begging and pleading with my mom to go vegan. It never worked.
So if you're dealing with people in your life who won't considering veganism, I get you. I know how defeating it can feel.
For someone to go vegan, or really make any behavior change, they have to have the know-how, but also the belief they can do it. Knowledge + tools + believe they can do it + support = change.
But what about when the rainforest is literally burning down, like right now, and the Earth is in dire straights, you might say!? Shouldn't that be enough to kick everyone into action?
The problem is (one of them,) that humans are crazy bad as risk assessment...we have a tendency to underestimate how dire the situation is, all the research shows. We also can engage in what's called "social loafing," where we shift the responsibility off of us, and assume that because plenty of other people are vegan, or because you recycle or drive a Prius, that you've done your part.
One important step, as I now know, is to figure out the individual person's driving factor, or values. For example, is there a vegan-reluctant person in your life who you know is super into environmentalism? You should definitely approach them with veganism differently than you would someone super into animal rights.
I was approaching my mom all in terms of animal rights, when really, health was her driving force. She always said she "couldn't give up chicken because she needed the protein." And she also always talked about how dairy was important to get calcium.
Whatever the angle though and whatever the approach, you always must share veganism in a way that encourages hopefulness! Why? Over-emphasizing the danger and risk, without also emphasizing that there is something we can do about it, is the worst approach (and something I see far too many vegans do.) If people think the situation is dire, beyond hope, that makes us recoil - it's just human nature. However, even if we're not as convinced of the risk, if we think there is hope and something we can do to turn the ship around, we're far more likely to do it.
Therefore, no matter your approach, share positive news that's empowering and makes people feel as though they CAN do something, and that their actions matter (because they do.)
Next? Encourage every single tiny positive step along the way. Did they substitute almond milk for their regular dairy? Have they adopted meatless Mondays? Shout that out from the rooftops! People are far more likely to change if they feel encouraged along the journey. #facts.
Don't let PERFECT be the enemy of GOOD. In other words, if you get so frustrated that someone isn't 100% vegan, you miss the opportunity to celebrate their 80% veganism. And just think if the whole world was 80% vegan...
Finally, and importantly, give them space! You can provide the info and facts and give them the recipes and help, but back off. People are far more likely to change, the research shows, when they feel they decided to themselves. If you're too overbearing, you run the risk of making them turn away, according to the reactance theory. This theory says when we're forcefully told what to do, we often do the opposite. People just don't like to be forced to do things.
Some final ideas: host a documentary watching party, have your friends over for dinner regularly, and wow them with I had no idea this was vegan meals, or go out and show they how you can dine out as a vegan. Get ripped and healthy and show them through your health what veganism can do! And if you're ready to take the next step in your vegan advocacy and learn communication-theory-based approaches more in depth, make sure you enroll in my new course "No I Don't Miss Bacon," which delves into how to communicate, explain, and advocate veganism to your friends and family and in social settings.
Check it out here!!
And remember, always be the compassionate, non judgy vegan!
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