How to have a conversation with a non-vegan - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 07-07-2013, 10:07 AM
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General guidelines for positive communication, about veg*n eating or any other potentially contentious issue:

  • Use the ‘LEAP‘ system: listen, empathize, agree, and partner. Use active listening strategies to draw the other person into actual dialogue — ‘What do you mean?’… ‘Have you always thought animals were for eating? All animals, or just specific ones?’… ’Are there animals you wouldn’t eat? Why?’… ‘Hmm, well, I guess it sort of depends on what you mean by natural… do you mean because humans have always done it?’ … ‘Oh, awesome – another food ethics enthusiast! … what labels do you look for on ‘humane’ animal products? Why?’ LISTEN and reflect back what they say, without judgment or commentary.
  • Empathize with their experiences. Don’t fake it — find it! ‘I was worried about protein too, at first’… ‘I was totally scared of giving up cheese, too! I put it off for ages, because I couldn’t imagine cooking without it’… ‘I grew up the same way! When I was a kid, my mom practically cooked bacon at every meal’… ‘I wouldn’t have thought I could be happy  without cheese either. But sometimes you surprise yourself, I guess!’…’yeah, I get what you’re saying —  if I thought my body really needed something, I’d want to eat it too.’
  • FIND COMMON GROUND TO AGREE ON (yes there always is some)! … ‘I totally agree, it matters how farmed animals are treated’ … ‘We’re definitely on the same page about farmers’ markets, and supporting local growers’… ‘I’m glad we agree that food choices matter!’… ‘I know we both appreciate a good laugh…’ <—(ok, yeah, I’m thinking of the plant/ insect/ desert island questions here… heehee, good times! but I digress…)
  • To the greatest degree possible, put yourself on the same page with the person you’re talking to, rather than positioning yourself as an adversary. ‘Well, it seems like we want the same things: more compassion and less cruelty in the world. I don’t think humane labeling is the best way to get there, but I’m glad our goals are so similar’… ‘I’m always glad to meet other folks who shop their conscience — we may disagree on the details; but for environmentalists like us, food choices are such an easy way to make a difference!’
  • Whenever possible, set up opportunities to be asked for your thoughts — folks are automatically more receptive to information they’ve asked about. ‘Why am I vegan? Because I never heard a good reason not to be.’ Just wait: they will ask about protein, naturalness, ‘pointy teeth,’ and all the rest of it. Say, ‘Do you really want to know? I love to talk about this stuff, but not everyone is really interested…’ and they’ll press you to tell all. Or maybe someone says, ‘Well, you know, eating meat is natural!’… and you reply, ‘I hear that a lot, actually… I have some theories about why so many people think so, even though it doesn’t seem like a very strong argument to me.’ Then wait. THEY WILL ASK, and — because they asked — they will be more likely to listen!
  • Use ‘I’ language. ‘It looks to me like…’ ‘I found out that…’ ‘I don’t want to participate in…’ ‘I watched…’ ‘I read…’ ‘I don’t need…’ ‘I feel like…’ Own it! Not only will it make your ideas more accessible to (defensive) listeners, it’s harder to argue with: no one can tell you that you don’t think or feel something that, in fact, you DO think or feel.
  • Remember where the defensiveness comes from — it’s not about you! And it’s not about the relative merit of your ideas and arguments. This is emotion-driven defensiveness, related to clashing narratives about the role of human beings in the world. If — when — you feel attacked, DO NOT respond in kind! It isn’t about you. Stay positive, and walk away if that’s not possible. Getting drawn into a hostile exchange serves no positive purpose!

Be confident, be friendly, and know when to let it go. When it comes to clashing stories about the world, change doesn’t tend to happen overnight. Don’t try to convince: listen, connect, inspire!

Like water on stone, every positive interaction with a vegan wears this anti-veg mythology right on down… utilize that approach; and expect a similar timeline.

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#2 Old 07-07-2013, 10:55 AM
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Can't we just club them, drag them back to our cave, and force feed tjem lentils until stockholm sydrome sets in?

It's natural!

"You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.”
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
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#3 Old 07-07-2013, 10:56 AM
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#4 Old 07-07-2013, 03:33 PM
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Shared! Thank you so much for posting that, it's a very thorough overview of a lot of the arguments vegans face and I love the video links.

"If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others... why wouldn't we?" - Edgars Mission
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#5 Old 07-07-2013, 06:05 PM
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I kind of think that telling them over and over and over again "veganism is the moral baseline" is going to work better.*

Anything else is counter-effective.*





*not really

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