It’s always interesting to be the “Veggie” friend/family member. You know what I mean – you have a group of friends/family but you’re the only vegetarian in the bunch. Invitations to dinner parties1 start to wane, invitations to go out to eat start to disappear. I’m sure you get it and if you don’t or you haven’t noticed, well… yeah, it happens.
Sometimes, as with going out, it’s a matter of your friends/family not knowing what restaurants have options for you. Other times, as with dinner parties, they don’t know what to make for you or they don’t want to have to make an entire separate meal that no one else will be eating. Of course, with a dinner party, you can always offer to bring your own food2 and you can always tell your friends/family what restaurants have options for you.
But then you get to thinking that you want your friends/family to try some of your vegetarian (or vegan) foods. You start thinking this won’t be an easy task – and for some it might not be. Some people are more open to it than others. My roommate and her mom are pretty open to trying things at least once – maybe twice if there’s a particular reason we can come up with why the first time was a bust. But some people, like my friend H, are absolutely dead set against trying vegetarian foods. So here are a few tips to help ease the way a bit and possibly help you convince your friends/family to at very least try vegetarian or vegan foods. These are based on my personal experiences being the only vegetarian in my friends and family.
- Don’t be pushy about it – If there is one thing even I can’t stand, it is when you have someone being pushy about getting you to try something. Don’t be pushy. Mention it once and then leave it alone for a while if they look disinterested or flat out say no. Asking again two days later isn’t going to help convince them. In fact, it might just push them further away.
- Don’t constantly send them graphic videos – The more PETA videos I see on my Twitter feed screaming “You need to stop eating dairy because of this” and “You need to stop eating eggs because of that” the less likely it is I’m going to do it. Same is true for your friends. If you’re constantly retweeting these things, sharing them on Facebook, reblogging them on Tumblr, or sending links to your friends/family via text message, you’re probably just irritating them. That’s not going to help. To be honest, I think PETA’s method of using graphic videos is disgusting and is a subject for another post altogether.
- Do ask what about being vegetarian or vegan is stopping them – A lot of meat eaters simply aren’t aware of the options available to them if they stop eating meat. Sure, there isn’t a perfect substitute for everything out there, but the vast array of foods there are substitutes for is staggering. I’ve seen vegan fish filets, crab cakes, pepperoni pizza pockets, chicken sliders, burgers, chicken strips, chicken patties, and more.
- Do offer to allow them to try a bite of your meal – This is actually how I’ve gotten my roommate and her mom to try some of the things I eat. I just say “you want to try a bite?” This gives them the chance to try it out without committing to an entire serving of something they may not like.
- Do offer to cook them a meal at your house – Be clear that the meal will be meatless and that it will not be something familiar like spaghetti with plain sauce or macaroni and cheese. Fix them your favorite vegetarian or vegan recipe(s) and see what they have to say. Just make sure you know what food allergies they may have3.
- Do let them know there are different brands they may like better – If they say they don’t like your veggie burger by MorningStar Farms, let them know that there are other brands like Beyond Meat, Boca, and Gardein, to name a few. Let them know that just because they don’t care for the one they tried, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better option out there.
- Do be patient – Rome wasn’t built in a day and you likely won’t convince your friends/family to even try being vegetarian right away. It will take time and you might find setbacks along the way. Just be patient and like I said in the first tip, if they say no just wait a while before bringing it up again.
- Do learn to let it go – If your friends/family flat out tell you to stop, and some of them may, do so. As Elsa sings in Disney’s Frozen – “Let it Go!” You won’t convince everyone and honestly, if it is a friend or family member you’d rather not lose, it is best just to stop trying. If they become interested in vegetarianism or veganism at some point, they’ll bring it up to you. Until then, if they tell you to leave it alone, do it.
I hope these tips help you with your quest to encourage your friends/family to try being vegetarian or vegan. If you have any others, leave them in the comments below.
- If you’re in a crowd that does dinner parties, I’m not. ↩
- Thanksgiving with my roommate’s family sees me purchasing a Tofurky roast and vegetarian “Turkey” gravy mix and bringing it to dinner. ↩
- In other words, don’t make a recipe involving cashew cheese when your best friend is allergic to tree nuts or server soy-based meat substitutes to a soy-intolerant friend. ↩