When you adopt a vegan lifestyle, there are many positive side effects: your health benefits, the planet benefits, innocent animals benefit, your conscience benefits and even your finances can benefit. But what about your social life? Many people find that social situations become fraught with challenges that leave them feeling like an outcast.
So how do you maintain your social life within a society of meat-eaters? I’ve been a low fat, high raw vegan for eight years and vegetarian for five years before that. Here are my best suggestions for socialising in a non-vegan society.
1. Maintain a positive mind-set. When you approach social situations with a positive mind-set and the belief that eating fruits and vegetables is easy and natural, that people want to meet your needs and that veganism isn’t a big deal, you’re far more likely to experience this in real life. So smile and be polite and friendly around food issues. Remember that veganism is a lifestyle of peace and then go out and be that peace in the world.
2. Learn to say “no” graciously. People are often scared of saying “no” to food for fear of offending, so learning how to turn down food graciously is an important skill to develop. Never be afraid to say “no” to non-vegan food. Remember that if you give in, even occasionally, people will continue to pressure you to eat the way they do. Where-as, if consistently and lovingly say “no” to meat and dairy, they will eventually give up and will usually start ensuring that there is food available for you to eat.
3. Be prepared. Put your success in your own hands. Don’t assume that someone else will provide something for you. Take your own food with you wherever you go; some fruit in your bag with some nuts can give you something to munch on in a social gathering, when everyone else is hoeing into savouries and cream buns. I usually eat before I go out to a restaurant with friends and then I can just ask for a salad and bring my own dressing and I’m good for the night. Alternatively, you can phone ahead to restaurants and talk to the chef about your needs and ensure they can do something for you. If you’re eating at a friend’s house, offer to bring something and then bring enough for your entire meal and extra to share with everyone else.
4. Communicate and share. Along with the fear of saying, “no” comes the fear of standing out and being different. It can be threatening to get into discussions about your way of eating and your reasons for eating that way. If you can find a way to explain your decision in a way that’s not judgemental or preachy and have that as a prepared and practiced answer, you’ll feel a lot more confident. If others get defensive, the best way I’ve found to disarm the situation is to offer them some of your food. “Would you like to try some of my bliss balls. They’re really yummy,” will stop hostility in its tracks. Educate yourself about the issues, so that you can talk intelligently about your diet and reasoning (See below for suggestions). If all else fails, a statement such as; “Eating this way makes me feel better than I’ve ever felt,” can’t be argued with. Share your way of eating with your friends and family. Invite them to a meal at really good vegetarian restaurant or over to your place for your most delicious vegan meal.
5. Become part of a vegan community. While you certainly don’t want to cut those you love out of your life just because they eat meat, it can be refreshing to socialise with other vegans. These days there are vegetarian, vegan and raw vegan groups in nearly every major city. Find a group of like-minded people and expand your social circle. Volunteer for animal rights’ or environmental charities and get to know others who share your beliefs.
Ultimately, socialising as a vegan will be as easy or as hard as you choose to make it. You don’t need to be eating the same food as everyone else to be social with them. Enjoy others’ company and conversation or find things other than food to socialise around.
Some suggestions to educate yourself and others:
• Books like Gary Francione’s Eat Like You Care available on Amazon
This article written by Holistic Health Consultant, Cath King from Seeking Health.
syntax error, unexpected '}'