What will my friends and family members think if I become a vegetarian/vegan?Posted | 4 comments
Last week, we explored the different varieties of vegetarian lifestyles.
If you have made the decision to become a vegetarian/vegan, not everyone is going to support your decision. Sometimes these social and family pressures make being a vegetarian/vegan very challenging. It is likely that you will receive some opposition in the beginning of this journey.
Often attempting to convince every person who gives you grief for becoming a vegetarian/vegan, will be a huge emotional drain. Arguing and defending the issues that you have come to care deeply about can be extremely trying and it is important to realize that it is not always in your best interest to use your energy in this way.
If you feel emotionally exhausted, or have the feeling that your arguments for becoming a vegetarian/vegan are chipping away at your well-being, take a moment to self-reflect. The best approach you can take is to politely inform others of your new lifestyle choice, as those willing to adopt a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle themselves must make the decision on their own. Rather than directing harmful criticism on those who oppose your views, or those whose lifestyles are different from your own, keep in mind that there are better ways to voice your opinions than lashing out and becoming defensive.
If you believe in something strongly enough then you will have to gather enough strength and courage to stand up for the things you truly believe in — even if that means standing “alone” in your conviction. You may consider making the decision not to get pulled into constant arguments about the subject matter. I’ve found simply ending the conversation with a polite, “I appreciate your concern but feel this is a great fit for me. It isn’t for everyone but I hope you will just respect my decision to do this.”
When I decided to become a vegetarian/vegan it wasn’t about changing who I am – it was “reclaiming” who I truly am by living my deepest values and walking my talk. Aligning my diet with my beliefs has helped me become more like the person I want to be. I want to be kind to all God’s creation, I want to protect our environment, and I care about other people and about future generations to come. I believe in values of justice, kindness, mercy, love and compassion. For me, choosing a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle puts my values into everyday action.
Some of your closest friends and/or family members might not “ever” understand your decision to become a vegetarian/vegan, and it is helpful to accept this fact and move on rather than fixate and become frustrated by something that is unlikely to change.
I find for me that opposition to my dietary choices serves as a motivating force to inform others about a more ethical, peaceful and compassionate way of life. Instead of becoming discouraged when others try to bring me down, I become inspired by the tremendous potential I have to be a good steward for the animals and their right to be free and live a peaceful and harmonious life in the same way we do.
With that being said, I encourage you to watch this short two-minute clip. In Nepal, when people go to Temple, some of them take a goat or chicken to sacrifice. This clip is about a three year old boy (Adrian) and his first visit to a Temple. When Adrian spotted a goat being sacrificed, he realized his animal friend was next in line but his childlike innocence, mercy and compassion prevented that from happening. Watch what happens;
Hopefully my presence and position on this topic alone is enough to cause others to at least “think” about vegetarianism/veganism and this simple act of “thinking” is often the first step to either a shift in perspective, a change in diet or at the very least, a more informed and respectful viewpoint.
When you adopt a vegetarian /vegan lifestyle your friends and family members may also take it rather personally because they may feel that you are rejecting their lifestyle choices that they have held on to for generations.
When it comes to family members and close friends, there is a fine line between activism and rudeness that is easy to overlook. Rather than offending those who are close to you, channel your frustrations and cultivate it through an intelligently constructed explanation. Stay positive, remain patient, and remember you are always affecting small changes, even when it seems like you are not.
Your example of joyfully living a lifestyle completely in line with all of your convictions will have a much bigger impact than your words.
See you next week!
Peace be with you, and may you always find light on your path, good health, and true friends to make the journey with you.