Talking To My Friends

Talking To My Friends

This is going to sound naive. Dense, maybe. Yet I want to say it and I want to hear your responses.

I belong to a sewing class. About 12- 15 of us get together once a week to sew together, with the help of an experienced, funny, thoughtful teacher. Most of us take two classes, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and we share a lunch together. From the beginning I have let my veganism be known, and my classmates have been great about it. The teacher never fails to provide for me whenever she brings food for our potluck lunches, and others consider me as well as the gluten-sensitive class member much of the time. I don’t starve.

Last week the gluten-free person told me, during a break, that she had just seen Food, Inc and she is now a vegetarian for real. She was really horrified. I nodded, smiled, generally agreed with her comments but did not add to them.

Today that movie was well as King Corn came up at lunch.  There was pretty much universal disgust at the factory farming model. There was discussion of where to get so-called free-range chicken, and some clarification  a little of it by me) that free-range means nothing.

This group is intelligent and aware and many have seen these films and more, but they still eat meat (other than the one who went veg). I do not want to become the proselytizer but I feel I can probably do more.  I’m wondering what I might do. Bring leaflets? books? I am not a confrontational person by nature and when I do go that way the results are usually disastrous. I would love to be able to handle some of these questions and comments as well as Colleen Patrick-Goudreau does, for example, but I don’t see myself going there.

I bring food to the potlucks and hope that my vegan offerings will make a difference. I prefer to bring food that is friendly and familiar rather than introduce complicated and unnecessary vegan options. Over time, perhaps I will have an effect. Do any of you have these questions? These limitations?

10 Responses to Talking To My Friends

  1. Oooo. That’s a tough one, but I feel your dilemma. It’s funny, my sister (whose a vego) and I were just talking about that sort of thing tonight. “Oh, I only eat meat from where the animals have been treated ‘humanely'”.. until they’re slaughtered, you mean… “I only get my dairy from so and so, because they allow their cows to roam free” Yeah. Right.

    ANYWAY… I think leaflets, books etc are a good idea. A gentle nudge in the compassionate direction, then they can make do with the material as they will.

    I guess it’s all about education really.

    Love a fellow vegan, from Melbourne.

    :)

  2. In my opinion, the best way to make vegan change in the world is to provide examples of noncomplicated, delicious vegan food and to gently mention that it is vegan. Those who want to know more will ask you. Others will likely have their thinking provoked on the subject, even if they say nothing.

    I am also not confrontational, in part due to my nature and in part because being a so-called “militant vegan” is simply not an effective way to change people’s minds/tastes. Feed them food they truly like and can imagine making themselves is the single best way to start converting individual omnivores.

  3. That’s the vegan’s eternal dilemma, isn’t it? How to influence people without proselytizing and driving them away in the process. It sounds like you’re doing everything right – continue to add little tidbits of information here and there, throw in your two cents, but stop before they feel like you’re judging them. Brush up on some simple facts about the humanitarian, environmental, and animal welfare effects of meat eating, so you can be prepared to contribute when appropriate. Have some book recommendations ready (I highly recommend Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals – it’s about the journey away from meat eating, and it’s entertaining and very accessible). It’s a very fine line to walk, in my experience, and I sympathize with the difficulty of the situation you’re in.

    You could also bring a cookbook to class (Colleen’s would be great, in fact, or one of Isa’s – something simple). Say something to the effect of, I know you guys have been talking about how to avoid factory meat, and I wanted to show you some of my favorite recipes, because it’s actually super easy to make a meal using just plants. Then let them peruse the book, and chances are, they’ll read the part at the beginning of all the vegan cookbooks about why we’re so concerned with making vegan food anyway. I’ve done this before with moderate success.

    You’re on the right track, so just be patient and keep trying! Good luck to you.
    .-= Kayla´s last blog ..Vegan Bake Sale =-.

  4. honestly, i think you are going about it the best way. live by example. answer questions when asked. be helpful when they are interested and provide tasty vegan food. both my parents are not vegetarians because of that approach and quite a few of my students. and though it’s not much, quite a few friends eat vegan when we go out to eat because they have discovered that it’s not tasteless and its good for them. It’s not perfect and its not quick but i think just living the life is definitely one way to enact change.

  5. I’m happy to hear that they have even watched the two movies and are talking about the stuff. Perhaps you should suggest another movie to them. If they liked the first two it may be time for you to really say they should see another. You could also ask them if any of them would be interested in starting or attending a vegetarian potluck. If you are going to attend such events, let them know about them. Don’t push, but put the invitation out there and keep offering nuggets of info that may at some point all come together for them.
    .-= Jacqueline´s last blog ..PETA Kills Animals – Here’s the Proof =-.

  6. I agree, you’re definitely going about it the right way; however, I don’t believe you can sway a carnivore’s decision from eating meat if they don’t want to. It doesn’t matter how hard we try to help them understand, if they’re not ready to stop they won’t. Sometimes it’s simple ignorance on the topic or fear of change. If you keep informing them they will understand more and might be willing to change their minds. Don’t forget to let them know how your body has changed, including the look and feel of your skin. Many aren’t aware of the beautiful physical, physiological and visual changes our bodies go through.
    Inviting them to a veg potluck is an excellent idea, too. Maybe even suggest a veg lunch once a month and ask everyone to bring a veg dish.
    Good luck to you, you’re doing a great job!

  7. Thank you all for your comments. I like the idea of inviting them to a veg potluck or other veg gathering when appropriate. I am an assistant organizer of a rather vibrant veg group where I live and we do have a lot of activities. I also have tons of vegan cookbooks and I have my favorities that I might bring in some time.

    One of the class members read The China Study and was amazed at what she read yet she still eats animal products. It’s an odd situation but I am glad that this group is as thoughtful and aware as it is.

  8. I agree with what has been said. That you lead by example not by force. Sharing food and living as a joyful vegan is the best thing a person can do to show others that we can live by our morals and be even happier than we were before. No one wants to be a hypocrite. But change is scary. Making that change as friendly looking as possible is the most effective activism I can think of.
    .-= Livin Veg´s last blog ..Win a Vegan Purse By Ro & Co! =-.

  9. Thank you everyone. I agree that this decision is rarely based on logic. For me it was initially based on how I felt but very quickly it was the animals, an emotional decision.

    I agree that simple dishes work best, too. One person brought in absolutely amazing raw ravioli that everyone loved, and that was of course vegan, but I heard a couple of people comment later that the recipe really threw them, it was “so complicated”. And they assumed this meant vegan food is complicated. So the more I can do to bring simple vegan dishes made of products they recognize the better, I think. And it won’t hurt to bring in cookbooks from time to time, especially ones that I find beautiful or fun and easy or something special.

  10. Here’s how I think about things like this:

    I choose what “hat” to wear in each situation. In a situation like a sewing circle with friends I would wear the hat of a “non-confrontational” vegan and share food, recipes, and information when asked.

    But in other areas of my life I wear the animal advocate hat. In those areas, I leaflet on college campuses, I participate in demonstrations, I make educational videos, I run this website, and I organize vegan education events.

    I consider myself an animal advocate, but I do not consider my personal life to be advocacy. I think that merely feeding friends and answering their questions about veganism is just part of being vegan.

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