“Hello, I’m just a newbie to the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle (10 days to be exact) would you have any personal tips for someone who is converting to vegan and how to deal with unsupportive people? Your blog is lovely btw :)”
Thank you so much! Congratulations on making it this far! The first few weeks of trying to be vegan were really confusing for me, and I’m pretty sure I could give an insane crash course on everything NOT to do, so I think I can help you out.
I touched on the topic of dealing with unsupportive people last week, but there’s always more to say about avoiding negativity. Unfortunately, being part of a social movement all but assures you will encounter people who not only loudly disagree with you, but actively try to ‘prove you wrong’. Engaging in an argument with this kind of person almost never ends well. Obviously, there’s value in having an open-minded, free wheelin’ conversation with someone about the merits of ditching animal products, but there’s a very distinct difference between a progressive discussion and a fist fight. It’s easy to let our emotions get the best of us when we have good intentions, but more often than not, it just ends in regret and hurt feelings. I don’t know about you, but when I care passionately about something, I defend it vigorously with reckless abandon. I scream it from the rooftops and paint it on walls. I’ve always been this way- when I was a really young kid and found out aerosol cans were damaging to the environment, I wrote letters to the governor, informing him (as if he didn’t already know) and admonishing him for not outlawing their use. In high school and I saw the cafeteria walls plastered with National Dairy Council ads, I went on a rampage and stormed the principal’s office, demanding they be taken down. Of course, they never came down, and even more obviously, the governor didn’t outlaw aerosol cans, but the need to protect my convictions never left me. Over the last handful of years, I’ve come to learn something that I now find invaluable in my life – all the good intentions in the world don’t matter if you act out of anger.
In short, passion is beautiful, but it can be very destructive. Use it wisely and learn to control it when you have to. The best way to impart a positive message to others is to radiate positivity yourself. This is not to say you shouldn’t stand up for yourself when confronted; if someone attacks your world view, you have every right to defend it, but attempt to do so logically and with grace and kindness. That is, after all, what being vegan is all about- extending our circle of compassion.
Beyond that, the best tips I can give you would be –
Don’t be afraid of screwing up. No one is perfect; so don’t try to be! I think that’s an important thing for anyone to hear, but in our perfection-obsessed world, it can be so easy to feel inadequate even if you’re exceptional. (And you are!) There’s no need for that. Learning to live in a way that doesn’t promote cruelty to others is a process, it doesn’t happen overnight. It certainly didn’t with me! I was a vegetarian for five years before I dropped the rest of the animal products in my diet. So don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake, you can always try again tomorrow.
Keep it simple. There will always be a new fad diet going around, but you don’t have to get sucked into them. Eating without causing harm isn’t about losing weight or following a trend. Load up on vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts/seeds, and beans and you’ll be fine. You don’t have to eat kale and wheatgrass for every meal. (And you shouldn’t! As good as they are for you, balance and variety are absolutely essential to your physical, mental, and emotional health.)
Believe in yourself. You are capable of amazing things! Living in alignment with your beliefs, you’re aware of the environmental destruction, health risks, and needless abuse of animal agriculture, and you choose not to support it. Every single day, you make a choice to vote for compassion. That is a pretty awesome way to live. There will be people who don’t believe in you, who don’t support your actions or choices, but they don’t control you, and their opinions don’t have to affect you at all if you don’t want them to.
It also helps to know what to say when someone does ask you about your lifestyle. I’m sure you’ve already found a bunch of blogs and websites that have helpful information for you. If not, check out these links I’ve compiled of my favorite online references. More importantly, finding a few great books can not only help you learn about how (and why) to live without harming animals- but the good ones will also reignite your motivation, help you catalog information and provide you with legitimate sources for your own personal knowledge and for any debate you may, at some point, find yourself in.
Here are just a few of my favorites:
♥ The Food Revolution ♥ Diet For A New America ♥ The China Study ♥ Whole ♥ Thrive ♥ The Kind Diet ♥ Mad Cowboy ♥ Crazy Sexy Diet ♥ Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows ♥ Farm Sanctuary ♥ Eating Animals ♥ Veganist ♥
I hope this was helpful! Just keep doing your thing and over time, it’ll get easier. If someone is being negative and trying to bring you down, just remind yourself that it says a lot more about the negative person than it does about you. The best way to lead is by example, always! Try to always be your best self and others will take notice.
Also, here’s an adorable picture of one of Farm Sanctuary’s rescue pigs, just relaxin in his puddle. Self love at it’s best. Enjoy!