If you’re newly vegan or considering going vegan, one of the biggest challenges can be the reactions of your friends and family. In this interview, vegan activist Gary Yourofsky shares his approach to both non-vegan friends & family.
One of the most challenging aspects of adopting a vegan lifestyle is dealing with the reactions of friends and family. This can be particularly difficult for brand new vegans attempting to navigate the social and interpersonal dynamics of dietary conflict. In this interview, vegan activist Gary Yourofsky shares his approach to both non-vegan friends & family and also people who become combative about the vegan message.
To hear his full answer, be sure to watch the video, but here is a nugget:
“Believe it or not, even though I’ve converted—some say—hundreds of thousands of people now worldwide, because of my videos being passed around on YouTube and Facebook, I’ve had virtually no success with friends and family members. Give me a crowd of strangers, I could rock the house—I could convert people that I’ve never met, inside of 45 minutes. Friends and family members though—they’re the toughest people in the world.”
What are your thoughts on Gary’s approach? If you’re vegan, how do you deal with non-vegan friends and family, particularly when dining together? If you’re non-vegan, what have your interactions with vegans been like around meal times? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
— Emily Moran Barwick
Whether or not to have non-vegan friends in your life is a personal decision. For me, I don’t believe in having non-vegan friends. I’m pretty much a loner anyway–as Gary is (but for me, it’s because I’m extremely selective of who I want to be friends with–I am not misanthropic). I have no problem having polite conversations with non-vegans I know if I saw them on the street or know as co-workers–but I would never, ever call them friends and “hang out” with them. So the eating at the dinner table is a non-issue for me.
I do want to mention regarding what Gary said about issues converting family and friends….I don’t think it’s so much an animal rights/vegan issue; it’s more of people knowing who you were when they met you for the first time or how they’ve known you for so many years at first about anything. People tend to see you only as how they met you/how they’ve known you and seem to have a very difficult time accepting any major change about you in any way. Whether if it’s knowing that you are now vegan, or knowing you are now an expert giving financial advice; if they knew you before you were these things, it will take them a long time to really believe you are this. I’m sure this is not always the case but in many cases, it’s true. I’ve heard of people seeking advice from strangers, even though a family or friend of theirs is now an expert on the subject they are seeking advice on.
So my advice is if you are having trouble getting your family/friends to go vegan, have another vegan they don’t know talk to them–a stranger. As Gary said, he has a lot more success with strangers than with his family. Also, “ganging up” but in an easy-going way can be helpful. Having several vegans talk with the family/friends make it more convincing than one or two vegans as several people in general in agreement makes what is being said appear more truthful.
Emily Moran Barwick (BiteSizeVegan) says
very sage advice about having someone else talk to them- this is so true about many issues…family tends to not listen to one another but will readily accept the input of a stranger :)
and thank you for sharing your perspective and experiences!
Regarding my non-vegan relatives (my parents are deceased), I’ve lived on the west coast since 2004 and my relatives live on the other side of the country. I was never close to them anyway so again, I don’t have that issue of eating/hanging out with them.
I’m not a veggie, as I call someone that’s vegetarian or vegan but some of my relative are. I have an aunt and uncle that are veggies as well some cousins. I’ve read on biblelife.org how it’s awful and I support the low-carb beliefs of that site. I don’t see my veggie relatives that much as I live in another state than any of these relatives. When we stayed with my veggie aunt and uncle a few years ago, we ate on our own most meals or brought in a dish of our own for the non-veggie relatives. It was a family gathering that time. I was fresh from college and said how I disagree with veggie beliefs. My parents believed in food groups then, but I converted my mom to low-carb springtime last year because she has sugar issues. My dad was obese so he joined her that summer. I was sometimes low-carb and sometimes not until shortly after my last birthday, which was November that same year. I stray when away from home and so does my dad, but not quite as much, since he’s older and has a lower carb tolerance. Now if I was to interact with my veggie relatives, I’d just say we’re low-carb.
Emily Moran Barwick (BiteSizeVegan) says
thank you for sharing your experience from “the other side” as it were :)
EcoAtkins diet was proved effective ,by medical teams,for low carb needs,it worked for me. N I’m severely hypoglycemic ,n also hereditary fructose intolerance which is a liver deficiency, see these research for low carb needs
Jjas u mentioned in passing oon your pig save vigil video ,jobs,greedy higher paid jobs,but also orgy justification s,children or women’s education,native rights,global health of stock market,,,workers torture,including torture of unpaid Canadian children,is always silenced on all vegan sites,except food empowerment web,or given a few seconds per hundred hours