So Your Family is Judgy?
How to Survive the Holiday Dinner Table
* This post will be a part of my soon-to-be-launched mini-course, all about surviving social settings as a vegan, which will be available through this site the week of Christmas!
And unless you're exceedingly lucky, you'll probably encounter at least some of their nonsense around the family table this Holiday season.
If you're a new vegan and your family is just learning of your dietary change, and noticing you're eating a little differently than everyone else this year, it can be even worse.
If you've been around the block and this ain't your first rodeo as a vegan, hopefully your family has adjusted-but no matter how long you've been plant based, other human beings like to weight in and voice their opinions on things. It's just human nature.
And as infuriating and annoying as these unsolicited opinions and remarks can be, the last thing we, as non judgy vegans, want to do, is stoke the fire and add to the claim that "all vegans are judgy, angry assholes" (you've heard it--we all have.)
The best case, bottom line, end results from the 2019 Holiday season is that even just one of your family members has the interest piqued, even just a smidge, in veganism.
This will happen not from arguments or heated discussions about animal rights, but from you presenting this lifestyle in the most flattering light, and showing them what an awesome, non judgy vegan looks like.
Here are my tips on how to master the family dinner table, handle any question without losing your shit, and ultimately help to share the vegan lifestyle in the most flattering way possible--one that will actually inspire openmindness, and hopefully curiosity.
1. Don't argue (no matter what.)
Really--if you take anything from this post, it's this one. Just don't give in to the temptation to argue about protein or animal rights or any of it. I know it's tempting, and I know your blood might be boiling. But if you family tries to pick a fight, and you stoop to their level, you can be assured you're not representing the vegan movement in a flattering light. It's not about being right or making a point-it's about the end result (always!) of them seeing veganism in a flattering light after they leave their interaction with you.
2. Keep it brief.
If someone asks you "where do you get your protein" or "but don't you miss cheeseburgers?" I've found the best answers are succinct, upbeat, and brief. Don't go into a lecture. A simple, "luckily, all plants have protein!" or "actually no I don't!" is always best.
3. If you're asked why you're vegan...A response you can never go wrong with is a simple "I'm doing it for my health and I feel awesome!" Why? No one can argue with you on that. They could argue animal rights and they could argue the link between animal agriculture and climate change--I've heard it done and I'm sure you have too--but no one can argue that you're healthier as a vegan, nor that you're feeling awesome!
Personal anecdotal sidenote--both my boyfriend and I have gotten into the best physical shape of our lives since going vegan, and man, nothing gets people's attention more than your physical phsyique looking better. Call it shallow--but that's human nature for you. I'm NOT saying you have to have lost weight or gotten ripped to showcase veganism in a positive way, but it doesn't hurt when people can see the changes on the outside, even if it's just a certain glow of health you have about you.
4. Show them how delicious it isIf people believe vegan = salads all day, no one's gonna want to hop on board, period. Whenever I'm at a family get-together or event, I do my best to show people just how delicious vegan food can be. Personally, I save the kale salads and stereotypically vegan foods for my normal day-to-day life, and go out all--think BBQ wings, pizzas, pies, macaroni salads and burgers--crowd pleasers. I truly believe that blowing someone's mind with how delicious it is, but also how you don't miss out, being vegan, is one of the most powerful ways to encourage change.
it's not about being right/arguing/making a point/it's about the end goal. And our end goal should always be making people more openminded and receptive to veganism.
But our end goal always has to be to leave a crowd inspiring them to possibly go vegan. If they think it looks doable, fun, normal, and delicious--they're going to be more receptive to it, period.
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