August 5, 2021
From Vegan Life

This month, we’re helping you to introduce veganism to those closest to you

Whoever you are and whatever your family and friends are like, it can sometimes be tough to talk about veganism with the ones you love.

Perhaps you have just become vegan – at some point, you will need to let the people in your life know your decision and why.

Maybe you have been vegan for a while now, but your nearest and dearest are still not fully understanding or up to speed with your lifestyle choice.

Perchance you would like to introduce veganism to someone that you know has the compassion to become vegan, but they’ve just not seen the light yet. Whatever your situation, we are here to help, with seven ways to gently introduce veganism to your family and friends.

  1. Cook them a delicious meal

Who can refuse being cooked for? Invite your friend or family member over, whip up your most impressive vegan dish and show them how the other half live. Many people are unaware of how tasty vegan food can be and think that vegans have must forgo a lot of the most satiating food. You could even veganise your guests favourite dish to show them how easy it can be to adapt to a plant-based lifestyle.

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And, if you fancied, you could always ask your friend or family member to help you in the kitchen – if they are keen! That way, they can see first-hand that vegan cooking really isn’t as daunting as they might think. Next time you go round to their house for dinner, your friend won’t be so worried about cooking for you. If you’re lucky, they’ll love the meal you cooked them so much, that they will swap it into their diet in replacement of a meat and dairy dish.

  1. Take them out for dinner

Many people think that vegans struggle to eat out, and whilst that might have once been the case, it is now so easy to find a restaurant that caters for vegan diets – whether that’s at an entirely vegan restaurant or an establishment with vegan options. On top of this, a lot of non-vegans don’t know just how incredible vegan food can be, being under the impression that vegan dining-out involves ingredient omissions and settling for plates of plain salad and tofu.

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Take your friend or family member to your favourite vegan eatery, or even your favourite omni chain restaurant. Order them the best vegan food on the menu and blow them away with the choice, flavour and experience. If you aren’t able to eat out, eat in! Grab a takeaway and enjoy opening someone’s eyes to plant-based food.

  1. Have a film night

How do people become vegan? Usually, through education and experience. Many of us only became plant-based through learning about the harm that comes to animals and the environment because of the meat and dairy industries; through having our eyes opened to the sentience of animals, or by hearing about the nutritional benefits of the plant-based diet.

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Host a vegan movie night for your friend or family member – there are so many incredible documentaries and films about veganism, the environment, where our food comes from, plant-based athletes and animal rights. Start them off with something easy and not too graphic to ease them in, and afterwards see if they would like to take the next step and watch something a little grittier.

  1. Gift them a book or start a book swap

There are so many books about veganism, animal ethics and the environment these days, that it is very easy to educate yourself on the topics they discuss. Gift your friend your favourite animal ethics-based book, like Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, Animalkind by Ingrid Newkirk, Allowed To Grow Old by Isa Leshko, or Animal Liberation by Peter Singer.

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Environmental-centred books are also great, for example, We Are The Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer, No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference by Great Thunberg, Eat for the Planet by Nil Zacharias and Gene Stone or The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells. Or, if your buddy is more open to learning about veganism through food, gift them a vegan cookbook!

To make it more fun, you could always set up a monthly swap, whereby they lend you their favourite book on a topic they are passionate about, and you lend them a book on veganism – it’s win-win!

  1. Take them shopping

One of the biggest misconceptions about veganism is that our food is difficult and expensive to buy. So, a great way to introduce veganism to someone and make it seem that little bit less scary, is to go shopping together. It doesn’t have to be a ‘big thing’, just two friends catching up whilst shopping! Chat about whatever you would like, whilst showing your mate the sheer abundance of cheeses, milks, yoghurts, chocolates and other goodies we can easily find in shops these days.

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Many non-vegans are unaware of what vegans can and do actually eat, so show them. Not only will it teach your friend a little bit about veganism, but it will also make it easier for them to shop for you – should they ever be having you over for dinner. Moreover, it might encourage them to try something new or swap in a vegan product for their usual meat or dairy one.

  1. Take them to a sanctuary

Take your friend straight to the source – and introduce them to a family of rescued animals that simply want to be loved. In our modern lives, the majority of people don’t actually have the chance to make compassionate and meaningful connections with animals.

Our everyday interactions with most animals that aren’t our companions are fleeting – a squirrel running past our feet, a far-off cow grazing on grass or a robin watching us from a tree. Plus, when it comes to the food on their plates, many meat-eaters have a big disconnection with the animal from which their meat came.

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Show your friend that animals are just like us – they just want to be free, safe, happy and loved. Show them that animals are sentient, that they have feelings and that they can suffer. Ask the care givers at the sanctuary to tell you and your buddy a few of the animals’ backstories – from where they came, and why and how they were rescued.

Who can resist the emotions that come with watching a previously caged animal running freely in a field?

  1. Brew the kettle and have a chat

Sometimes, a good old-fashioned natter over a cup of tea or coffee, is the best way to introduce someone you know to something new, so invite your friend or family member over to do just that. Grab a pack of vegan biscuits, pop on the kettle and make your mate a brew – using plant-based milk, of course! Keep it relaxed and non-confrontational and be open to any questions they may have.

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Start at the start – tell them why you have decided to go vegan, and how you found the transition. It’s important to be honest and not to omit struggles you might have had, but make sure that you focus on the positives and what you found most enjoyable.

If your company is unsure of exactly what veganism involves, explain it to them as simply as possible, and tell them how it makes you feel to no longer be eating meat or dairy. If your guest has no other vegan friends or family, there’s a good chance that this might be the first time they’ve ever really thought about veganism, so simply help them to understand what it is and why you have decided to take up the lifestyle.

It’s important to remember that you have not invited your guest over to attempt to convert them there and then – but to simply introduce them to your way of life, so that they can be a better friend. You never know – by chatting to them about veganism so openly, they might decide to learn more about it themselves and give it a go in the future.