If you are vegan, chances are you are very passionate about your health, saving animals and the planet. You have probably done a lot of research on the subject and know the negative effects of meat on one’s health, other animals and the planet.
When you talk to your family, friends, colleagues, and relatives who eat meat, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products, some of them might meet your arguments with negativity, excuses or a sarcastic smile. Your uncle is a REAL man, so he needs his meat and thinks that vegies are just for rabbits. Your cousin loves baking and couldn’t live without butter and eggs. Your nieces and nephews love ice cream and their parents couldn’t punish them by taking it away. Your brother is worried about protein, and your boss says that life wouldn’t be worth living without steak!
You may think to yourself, “how come they don’t care about their health, animals, or the planet??”
A lot of vegans become very aggressive when it comes to their beliefs. Although they have the very best intentions to help their friends and relatives, you can’t really help someone who doesn’t need or is not ready for help?
You have figured out something very important, in fact one of the most important things in life. How come it is not that important to others? When you try persuading, justifying, debating, arguing about it, you’re not “YOU” anymore. It’s your EGO that desires to be right and win the argument.
Think about it – do you really believe that by arguing, you’re going to prove your point to anyone? Or did you just lose control during the argument, forget your intentions and just go on ‘auto pilot’ wanting to win?
When the ego is involved, you can’t show people anything. You can’t help them. People feel judged, and no one likes to be judged. Once upon a time you used to eat meat and dairy to.(maybe not all that long ago). You were probably aware that the veganism existed but that wasn’t enough to quit eating meat, eggs or ice cream.
You know that you’re ready to learn new information when something resonates inside of you, and you decide to make changes. The negative vibes in an argument about veganism will never make other people resonate with what you say.
So how do you know when someone is ready to take on this information? I will illustrate it with a real life example about two of my friends – Kelly and Tom.
Kelly had an issue with her skin and couldn’t figure out what was causing it. She visited numerous doctors, did allergy tests, etc. The only solution that the doctor gave her was either to start taking hormones or antibiotics (very “wise” solution, isn’t it?).
Kelly ate meat and dairy, and lots of cooked food. I had a feeling that if she changed her diet, cut the processed food and dairy, increased fruit and vegie intake, and reduced meat to one day per week, her skin would greatly improve. However, she said that she would never stop eating meat, cheese, or milk in her coffee. “We live only once and should enjoy ourselves as much as possible.” I realised she wasn’t open to new information, so I didn’t force it. She was tolerant with me ordering weird side dishes when eating out, so was I tolerant to her dietary choices. I later lent her a book about the “Raw Vegan Diet”, but she returned it without finishing it. No problem Kelly, I understand, you’re not ready. It doesn’t affect our friendship.
My friend Tom is a passionate food lover. He loves going to fine restaurants and taking cooking classes from the top chefs. He even travelled to UK to take a course with Jamie Oliver. I remember his surprised eyes when I first made dinner and told him that everything was raw! Tom was enjoying the tastes and textures of unusual dishes and kept asking questions. Now every time he comes for dinner I try to make something delicious and vegan. I talk about the benefits of living foods, fresh fruits and vegies and he has started eating more of those! I didn’t scare him with the meat industry facts straight away, but the more information he asked, the more I shared. Lately he’s been asking whether I could lend him a copy of ‘The China Study’ and whether I could give him some raw recipes!
The last example is my boyfriend. He is the most open minded person in the world. He has been with me on my raw food journey since the beginning and has been eating tons of fruit and veggies with me. However, he does eat meat once in a while. But that’s OK. Look at the fact that he used to eat meat three times a day, 7 days a week, and now it’s only once a month. Who am I to judge him or criticize him for his own beliefs? I’m here only to educate and leave space for personal choices. As you can see, this method has really worked.
Would Kelly, Tom or my partner go vegan if I told them to straight away? I don’t think so. Perhaps I would lose two of my dearest friends and my soul-mate. Some vegans will tell you that you need to tell the truth to everyone you meet whether they’re ready or not. Why? If they’re not ready, they won’t change. By ending the relationship with them you’ll eliminate the opportunity to be a good example, share useful information and have a positive influence on their health in the future. Why would you take this opportunity away from them?
Don’t judge those who are eating meat or dairy. Understand them. Feel compassion for them. You’ve probably been there before (ate meat, cheese, etc.) Only by understanding them, being a great role model and showing your love, can you educate them, reach their hearts and make a difference.
You can’t change the whole world. But you can start with yourself. A good example is contagious. As Mahatma Ghandi once said: “Be the change you want to see in the world”.
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