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Dealing With Social Situations as a Vegan

Maintaining Your Lifestyle and Building Positive When Socialising Connections

Being vegan goes beyond dietary choices, it's a way of life that extends to all parts of your life, including social interactions. Dealing with social settings as a vegan will present some unique challenges, from having to eat with non-vegan friends while they happily eat animals, to dining with extended family members who offer you chicken, lamb or beef. But, it is possible to navigate these situations and not create conflict, to be able to enjoy a meal with the people that mean the most to you without friction.

restaurant table
Eating with non-vegans can be stressful, keep anxiety to a minimum by being prepared

Telling People About Your Vegan Lifestyle

When you are vegan you will find yourself having to explain your choices to people. In these situations it is important to emphasise the positive aspects of your lifestyle and keep any talk of the negative to a minimum. Tell people about why you choose to be vegan and not why they should be vegan. Tell them about how easy you find it and how glad you are to live in this way, but don't talk to them about the dead baby cows that result from the cheese on their pizza. You may get a lot of questions, why are you vegan, what's wrong with eating eggs, don't we need meat to survive, for iron, for vitamin B12, for protein. Handle these questions with an open and honest attitude, be happy to talk to people, even if they are being hostile, counter their stance with calm and well thought out answers. To keep the conversation open ask people where they got their information from, who told them that humans must eat meat, who told them that we need dairy to keep our bones strong. Their answers will often give you an opportunity to tell inform them about what you know about meat, dairy, animal agriculture and other aspects of veganism.

If the conversation takes a turn toward the negative, if people get angry or confrontational, explain to them that living in a vegan way seems truly alien to those that don't, but that it's really not that different at all. There only a few "ingredients" that you do not eat, a handful of fabrics, such as leather, that you avoid. People will normally be reacting badly our of fear or guilt, so let people know that you are not attacking them, that the meat, dairy and egg industries pay the government to promote their products, leading to misinformation being given to the public. You need to make it clear that if anyone is interested in veganism or simply cutting back on the amount of animal products that they consume you can help them.

Eating Out

When it comes to eating out some groundwork may need to be done, especially if someone else has chosen a restaurant that you've never heard of before. Research the restaurant that you will be eating at, check the menu, make sure that there are vegan options available. If they don't have anything that is suitable for you to eat, ring ahead and ask if they can prepare something for you, most restaurants are happy to tailor a dish to suit you, whether it's removing cheese, swapping a sauce or creating something just for you. When the food of others arrives it can be difficult to maintain your appetite, while you're eating your vegan meal they will be happily tucking into their animal based meal. Sitting next to someone that is cutting up and eating a dead animal is not easy, you have to focus on your meal, focus on enjoying the company, don't look at what's on their plate, ignore the smells. It's tough and you may not be able to finish your own food, but remember that it's about the people around you, not their lifestyle or dietary choices. If anyone asks why you're not eating try to gently explain your situation or tell them that you're not all that hungry, but don't make a big deal of it, aim to not make them feel bad. Positivity is a far stronger tool than negativity in these situations and if you make people feel bad for their choices you're just guaranteeing that you won't be invited to the next meal, and you'll be reinforcing the idea that vegans are difficult.

Social Gatherings

Social gatherings, barbecues, birthday parties, Christmas dinner, Easter, these times can present particularly difficult situations as they are more personal. They will usually involving a host cooking for the group, this makes any rejection of food even more upsetting, possibly causing the host to feel hurt and become irritated or annoyed. Sometimes the host may not know that you are vegan, they may forget, vegan food can be assumed to be the same as vegetarian food. In some situations not having vegan food options can be deliberate, veganism can be seen as a phase or something that you do when it suits you and not as a philosophy and lifestyle choice. Other people take it personally that you don't eat meat, they believe that you feel that you are superior to them. In these situations talk to the host, or someone that is close to them so that they can communicate on your behalf. Let them know that this is a whole way of living, it's not a Monday to Friday with the weekends off, kind of thing. Also, let them know that you appreciate them taking the time to cook for you, to invite you, try to keep all conversations pleasant and as positive as possible. If the people hosting the event are open to the idea you can suggest bringing vegan options with you, some people will see this as an insult, while others will find it a relief that they don't have to figure out what to cook themselves.

Being Vegan While Travelling

Travelling as a vegan presents a whole new world of problems, but it can also be a whole world of discovery. As veganism becomes more popular across the globe it is getting easier to find suitable, animal free, food to eat, but this isn't always the case. Challenges can include different cultures, some cultures are very meat or dairy based, each country has it's own national cuisine, there is the language barrier. When travelling make sure you pack vegan snacks, take advantage of local supermarkets, if in doubt you know that fruit is vegan. In restaurants use translation apps to help you navigate menus and when in transit, whether that be by plane, train, coach or car, pack something that you can eat whilst journeying. Planes can be difficult if you cannot take your own food aboard, contacting the airline at the time of booking your flight will allow you to explain your situation and request a vegan meal so that you don't go hungry during your flight.

The difficulties of navigating social situations when vegan can make it easier to just stay at home. To deal with the situation by always having an excuse for why you can't go whenever someone invites you out. But this isn't good for anyone, and it does nothing to spread the positive aspects of veganism. You need to show people that being vegan is achievable, it's fun, tastes amazing and is great for your health. You can use social situations to build connections and inspire positive changes in people, but at the same time, don't make every social gathering about veganism, unless it is a vegan social gathering. Remember that it's ok to talk about other things, too.


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