How to help friends with trouble being vegan

Discussion in 'General' started by Mimi, Mar 17, 2018.

  1. Mimi

    Mimi New Member

    Mar 16, 2018
    +0 / 0 / -0
    In the past, my friend went vegan for a couple of months but she returned to eating meat again for a few months then she went back to being vegan for half a year now.
    Recently, she told me that she has not been happy being vegan because she would always get sad about the things she could not eat. Before she used to be happy about being vegan but now she does not believe that the lifestyle is not for her.
    She feels happy eating meat again but personally, I cannot understand how after learning about all the suffering animals go through. I don't want to tell her what to do and I don't know what to tell her. I am sad about her decision.
    I was always happy that she was vegan because I wouldn't be alone. We would help each other find vegan food during events and she is my only friend who is vegan so I'm really sad that she went back to eating meat again. I had believed that she would not go back to eating meat ever again but it happened again. I'm going back to being alone again.
    I want her to have a positive view on veganism without making her feel guilty or becoming angry at her even though I am though I don't know how. She already knows why eating meat is horrible so I don't know what to say anymore. She has trouble staying committed to things. I am very sad since I don't think she would ever want to become vegan again.
    I constantly get disappointed by people I know who become vegan but after a couple of months, they have all quit. Has anyone had a similar experience and how did you help your friend. I am hoping that she would rediscover why veganism is so important but I do not know if it is possible anymore. I would greatly appreciate it if anyone has any advice for me to help my friend without being pushy.
  2. Veganite

    Veganite Super Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Vancouver, BC
    +700 / 1 / -2
    Welcome to the forum, Mimi.

    The vegan documentaries like Forks Over Knives, Eating You Alive, What The Health, Cowspiracy, Earthlings, and many more are quite inspiring to non-vegans, if they get the message. I don't think everyone gets the message, obviously, but many do after watching these documentaries.

    They say more people are going vegan than ever, and in my humble opinion, it's because the truth is finally getting out there to the masses. While I can't guarantee it will help; it sure wouldn't hurt to show her some of these docs. Maybe invite her over and watch them together. You are already leading by example, but education could help a lot more.

    It is not easy convincing people to live a certain lifestyle, but at the end of the day, education is key in getting the message out there. As they say, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. All you can do is present your case in a friendly way that shows people why it is so important, not only to their health, but to the environment, and all the animals that suffer daily to support the meat, dairy, and egg industries.

    Best of luck!
    • Like Like x 2
  3. Forest Nymph

    Forest Nymph Active Member

    Nov 18, 2017
    Northern California
    +608 / 1 / -14
    Someone who went back to eating meat was never vegan, they were on a plant-based diet. I don't believe a real vegan can ever eat meat again. They might be a vegetarian, but not a meat-eater. The psychological and spiritual shift it requires to actually be an ethical vegan doesn't allow for the consumption of flesh under any circumstances.

    SO ...your friend was on a plant based diet. She liked hanging out and eating plant based food with you, I guess.

    The idea then is to actually create an environment where that psychological shift might be more likely to occur. For some people it is watching PETA videos, for some it's meditation and yoga or a path of Buddhism or Jainism or Taoism, for still others it is watching humans killed in war or genocide as a personal experience as a soldier or civilian survivor. I personally had a dream in which humans were hanging on meat hooks and the corpses of pigs were thrown on a cold concrete floor under the hanging human bodies and I could not tell for a horrifying moment if the flesh was human or animal. But what got me to that nightmarish epiphany?

    Honestly I had just been drinking wine the night before and visited a building that is probably haunted and ate traditional American food at a diner. There was nothing extraordinary about that day except for believing the building (the Max Factor building on Hollywood Blvd) was haunted, and touching the artifacts of long-dead people, and seeing the original Hollywood sign shot up full of bullet holes. I think on some subconscious level I finally understood the link between human and animal violence and I found it gory and repulsive.

    I had been *trying* to be vegan before that, though. I had surrounded myself with numerous rational reasons I should be vegan and could frankly find no argument against any of those reasons (environmental, animal cruelty, health, etc) other than I was used to eating a certain way or didn't want to make my friends feel bad if they had offered me something to eat.

    I was never really a big fan of meat though. It was never something I thought I couldn't live without. Dairy was a big challenge for me.

    I started doing research into what is most effective at turning people vegan, and one psychological study indicated that the reason absolutely MUST be visceral. You can give people information all day long that is obviously correct and true in the most calm and pleasant voice imaginable, and they'll be able to intellectualize what you say, but may not FEEL it. I have this problem a lot talking to other environmentalists who aren't at least vegetarian. They hear me but they do not WANT to understand.

    So the various techniques must be used: bombardment, shock, novelty, sensual pleasure and social norms.

    Bombardment means constantly exposing people to your veganism. Don't ever stop telling people you're vegan and keep talking about why you're vegan. Show videos or films, play songs, wear shirts, and be open about being vegan in general.

    Shock is what PETA typically uses, and it's actually a psychological warfare tactic that's been proven to draw attention to other issues (not just veganism - this also includes environmental issues and even feminism in the distant past). Never underestimate the power of shock (though you will lose friends if you keep shocking them, so shock should always be a calculated act).

    Novelty means showing people all those cool vegan products, some people are really responsive to novelty. They love vegan products, vegan make-up, vegan festivals, vegan this, vegan that ...if you can make great vegan cupcakes and get people to go for the pineapple or mushroom leather jackets at Urban Outfitters, then you're creating a visceral experience reflecting vegan values.

    Sensual pleasure means showing people just how good vegan food tastes. That's why raw vegans irritate the bejeezus out of me. A big cultural norm in the United States in particular is enjoying food. It's much easier to create lasting vegans if you can show them that they can still eat burgers, wraps, noodles, burritos, cake, drink margaritas and milkshakes. It's extremely important to "market" veganism in Western society as delicious, satisfying, tasty. You lose a lot of potential vegans by telling them they should eat nothing but kale and bananas if they haven't made the "aha" ethical leap yet.

    Social norms means promoting veganism as cool and as what good or smart people do. Hipsters popularizing veganism was actually a very smooth move, Portland had the world's first vegan mini-mall. Los Angeles and San Francisco are filled with vegan options that are starting to spread to Las Vegas. Some schools in the CSU or UC system offer vegan products as a social norm that should be observed by educated people, just like respecting food allergies or different religious values. It's hard to sell "social norm" to your one friend who was vegan, but maybe you could show her on-line media like vegan YouTube, vegan Twitter, artists and celebrities who are vegan, stuff like that.

    Obviously there are people who go vegan over night and don't need the landslide of guerrilla tactics or library of information, but they are largely in the minority. Most people need a combination of rational information and these visceral psychological tactics. It's the same with climate change. Scientists have found that you can't convince a climate science denier of the truth even with the most scrupulous academic facts because they have some emotional investment in their denial, so the tactics also have to employ the emotional and visceral. It's just human nature. Giving people a free pass by being all passive about it is absolutely the wrong tactic. It fails on most people, it allows you to think you're that nice "normal" vegan and they're not doing anything wrong. BUT THEY ARE.
    • Like Like x 3
  4. Emma JC

    Emma JC Active Member

    Jun 15, 2017
    +474 / 0 / -0
    Amazing post FN!! well summarized.

    I would add that changing to a different lifestyle can be a journey of itself. I became aware of animals issues years ago and made some changes and then fell back to the 'norm'. Then found Dr Esselstyn about 6 years ago and followed his advice for a while and then fell back to the (ugh) 'norm'. Some of what we learned and changed stayed though and so when we heard Dr McDougall on Coast to Coast AM almost two years ago it was an immediate and easy change and we haven't looked back again.

    So even if someone 'falls back' there is a good chance they will 'come back' again and even stronger. Keep the faith and live by example!

    Emma JC
  5. brownmetalhead

    brownmetalhead Member

    Mar 30, 2018
    +5 / 0 / -0
    Show em a little love, let em know that you'll help them however you can. I have friends that are edging closer towards plant based diets everyday. One of them still eats meat but has ditched dairy, hoping she turns to me for hhelp if she needs it when deciding she wants to drop meat. I personally introduce vegan food to people to get them to realize we don't eat celery and carrots 24/7. It always help, now my friends are more open to trying vegan products and to be open minded about having that conversation that can influence them to choose their morals (hopefully vegan ones).
    • Like Like x 1

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