I often don't respond and I think responding to every single one would be too much. But responding every now and then is a good idea.
Try to keep it focused on the animals and not on the people who eat them. For example, you can say, "Aww that makes me so sick when people are cruel to animals. Did you know that the same kind of suffering happens everyday on factory farms?"
(Then you can offer the link to Farm to Fridge
Other options:"Bravo to you for standing up for companion animals! Now are you ready to take the next step and stand up for farmed animals too?"
(You can follow up by asking them to boycott factory farmed meat or go vegetarian a few days a week. Give them a goal that feels realistic to them.)"All kinds of animal cruelty are wrong. I'm really glad that we have some laws that protect pets. Did you know that farmed animals like pigs and chickens don't have any significant legal protections?"
(Follow up by offering a link to MFA
, or ALDF
so they can participate in legal campaigns to increase protections for all animals.)"It's our moral obligation to prevent needless animal cruelty. That's why I support what you're doing to raise awareness about animal cruelty. That's also why I'm vegan."
(Here you can offer a veg starter guide
or offer to loan them a vegan cookbook. This would be a good place to tell your story about how you made your transition to veg*nism.)
If you keep it civil and focus on the animal cruelty then the discussion doesn't have to put friendships in jeapoardy. Remember that all strong relationships involve some conflict. The problem isn't the disagreement, or even how heated it gets. The problem is when there's no good resolution wherein both parties feel respected and heard. So if you just make sure to try to understand their perspective and acknowledge that any reduction in animal product consumption is a win
, then these conversations will be more productive.