Diet Talk: Discussing Your Diet Around Family & Friends

Dec 15, 2023

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
By Justin Long, Writer at Switch4Good


Being vegan in a non-vegan world can be challenging, to say the least. One of the hardest things can be interacting with people close to you who aren’t vegan, and one vegan in a house full of non-vegan family members makes for a combustible mixture, particularly when your diet comes up at the dinner table.

So the question is: What’s the best approach to enjoying family gatherings when your veganism can be, at best, an inconvenience, or at worst, a controversial topic?

Fortunately, until the majority of the planet is vegan, we have some tips that can help you navigate the rough waters of family get-togethers and holiday parties.

Leave emotion at the door

It’s natural to feel passionate about why you became vegan and want to share all of the amazing benefits of your choice with the people you care about, but remember, not everyone is ready to take the red pill and exit the Matrix. Most people have spent their entire lives inundated with propaganda about animal protein being essential to thrive, and don’t know about the consequences of animal protein consumption or what industrial animal agriculture does to the environment.

The food we eat at the beginning of our lives is based on our environment, circumstances, and culture. Undoing years – and in some cases, centuries – of programming can be extremely difficult.

Empathy, patience, and respect with non-vegan family members and friends is essential. Avoid starting an argument, or allowing yourself to be pulled into one. Once a discussion has turned into a debate, all parties involved tend to dig their heels in, instead of remaining open to a productive exchange of information. When someone is defensive or intent on winning, receptivity declines, and you might as well be having a conversation with a brick wall. 

Set a positive example

Once you’ve decided to adopt a vegan lifestyle, it can be difficult not to feel judgmental toward people who haven’t. After all, you made a decision that’s better for your health, the planet, and the animals trapped in a system of abuse. Can’t everyone come to the same conclusion that you did and choose what’s right?

Unfortunately, everyone comes to the truth in their own time, and for some, not at all. The only thing that you can do to inspire change is to lead by example. So instead of preaching why you became vegan, wear it well, or if anyone asks, share how your life has improved as a result of your choice. Focus on the positive. Maybe you feel better. Maybe food tastes better. Maybe your belt size went down. Sharing how your life has changed for the better is less controversial than pointing out to someone how their dietary pattern is destructive for the world, even if it’s true.

Share the love

For new vegans especially, it can feel isolating to arrive at a social gathering only to discover there aren’t any plant-based options. Some non-vegan hosts will consider your dietary preferences, others won’t. All you can do is be prepared.

Bringing your own food or eating beforehand might ensure that you don’t spend the evening hungry or inconveniencing your host, but rather than bringing a single portion for yourself to eat, offer to contribute a dish. Dazzle fellow revelers with some amazing vegan cuisine, or, maybe veganize a classic dessert. Blow their minds and watch people delight in the wonders of great vegan food. Make an impression and show them what’s possible. This might just ignite lively conversation too. It’s all in the approach.

Gratitude goes a long way

We all came to veganism in our own way. Everyone’s journey is unique. If you want to make the biggest impact, be a beacon of hope for the people in your life.

And be thankful for the time you get to spend with your loved ones. It’s precious. Feeling gratitude, and expressing that gratitude to your family and friends is a surefire way to tear down walls and open hearts and minds. And an open mind is the key to embracing a beautiful new way of thinking and living.

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