Sometimes, conversations can get heated when the topic turns to ditching dairy, and at times, this can even lead to full-on arguments. It can be frustrating when the other person won’t budge or fails to listen to you, but you’ll only push them away further if you mimic their defensive (or even aggressive) behavior. Remember, you were likely in their place once. Recall the way you felt when you first considered ditching dairy, and think about how you would want to be treated. Everyone makes the connection in their own time, and we need to be respectful and patient – for many, ditching dairy is a major leap. We’ve compiled some simple tips to make you a more effective communicator when spreading the dairy-free message.
- Listen to the other person
- Sympathize and say you understand their point of view (remember, you were in their shoes once!)
- Find out what issues (health, animals, environment) are important to them
- Treat them how you would want to be treated
- Show you care about the other person
- Remain positive
- Explain your reasons for going dairy-free
- Explain how you feel since you’ve been dairy-free
- Share your food and recipes
- Offer to buy them a dairy-free beverage or treat
- Refer them to Switch4Good.org for additional resources and information
- Cut the other person off
- Use guilt, fear, or shame tactics
- Cross your arms
- Use harsh or crude language
- Think less of them because they currently consume dairy
- Give up on them
“I gave up dairy for my health and the animals. I always felt bloated when I consumed dairy, and now I feel so much better. I’m also crushing my workouts like never before, which is awesome. I eventually did some research, too, and learned about the treatment of dairy cows, and I didn’t know how much they suffered. I just don’t want to contribute to that industry anymore. Plus, I found this amazing [nondairy product] that I love. You should try it!”
“I don’t feel like I’m giving up anything by not consuming dairy. I did some research and found that so many foods have protein, calcium, and vitamin D, so I’m good nutrition-wise. My favorites are [kale, legumes, tahini, hemp milk, etc]. And I’ve found some really great nondairy versions of dairy foods that are on point! I never noticed them before, but they’re at [local supermarket]. I’ll bring you some next time.”
“You’re right, plant milks don’t have the same nutritional profile as cow’s milk, but I like the fact that they don’t contain any cholesterol, trans fat, or hormones. I drink plant milk because I want to lower my risk of heart disease and cancer, and I get nutrients from a variety of sources, not just one food. Ditching dairy has actually made me discover so much variety in food, and I’ve found new favorites like [your favorite dairy-free foods].”
“I never thought I could give up dairy, but after learning about how dairy cows are treated, I just felt differently. I didn’t know they were routinely impregnated every year to produce milk, and I didn’t know their lives are cut short by 15 years. When they can’t produce enough milk, they go to slaughter, just like beef cattle. I thought I was helping animals by not eating meat, but I realized I really wasn’t by still consuming dairy. So that’s why I gave it up. It really wasn’t hard at all.”
“I try to be sustainable when I can, and giving up dairy is an easy way to do my part for the environment. There are 270 million cows around the world bred into the dairy industry, and when you think about all the water and land needed to sustain these cows and their feed, it adds up. I also learned that the dairy industry and animal agriculture, in general, contributes more greenhouse gas emissions than all of transportation combined. So, by buying more environmentally-friendly dairy alternatives, I feel good knowing I’m making more sustainable choices.”
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Dietitian Lauren Plunkett says ditching dairy drastically improved her health despite her chronic disease.