Being a vegan in social life - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 11-16-2015, 02:48 AM
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Being a vegan in social life

Hi there,

I am vegetarian for more than a year now and just started a vegan diet. Becoming a vegetarian was hard, but my friends and family supported me. But they really don't understand why I want to be a vegan. I try to explain them, recommend them to watch docus and videos about veganism but they just don't want to listen. They get really defensive and even blame me for pushing them to a direction.. But I just answer their questions. It is not like I am saying they HAVE to change. I am just explaining why I want to change. They all think it's ridiculous.

I feel so lonely, I don't know any other vegans and really need support and tips how to make this transition easy, especially in this society.. I also feel like a difficult person when I have to ask for a vegan friendly meal in restaurants, when we have dinner at a friend's house,... Please share your tips!

Thank you!

Greetings from Belgium

Laure

PS Sorry for my bad English
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#2 Old 11-16-2015, 04:53 AM
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First of all I completely understand why you feel lonely. As you say, you do not know any other vegans and therefore you probably feel very isolated right now. This is made worse due to the fact that you are also receiving negative feedback about your vegan journey, but Laure, let me be the first to assure you that there is no need to feel isolated and alone.

This forum in particular has hundreds of members, many of whom have been through exactly what your going through. You will find that we are a very open bunch and should you ever need advice, need to vent or just a simple chat when your feeling down there will be people here for you.

Being Vegan, or Vegetarian will always form some kind of "us and them" segregation. People are set in their ways, and the truth is many people consider that their morals have been called in to question when someone close to them adopts a cruelty free diet. People may become paranoid. They may think that by making the personal decision to turn away from animal products you have in some way took a judgement against their own habits.

People are very defensive, and I have found that the level of confrontation and defensiveness is directly proportionate to how aware that person is of the cruelty that takes place.

But it comes with the territory. I tend to not tell people, and order vegan items from menu's if im out and about or in a group. People aren't stupid, and they will notice your order is different from others.
They will see your non-leather wallet / purse.
They will see that you have asked for soya milk for your coffee/tea.
People will pick up on so much without you even needing to bring it up.
And when they ask the question, that's when I discuss my choices.



Yes, it may be a passionate topic, and people may become defensive, try to belittle you, dismiss you as some kind of hippie do-gooder. But the important thing is that keep true to yourself.

Nobody knows everything, and therefore one of the best assets of this website, and others like it, is its level of knowledge and experience. There are people on here who have been vegan for a LONG time, and they have had every smart ass question fired at them, and you'll be glad to know that for every smart comment is a smarter answer.

Not that one-upmanship is the goal .

If you do feel awkward going to restaurants and bringing up the "vegan options" question, then my best advice is to do your research beforehand - I don't mean that condescendingly.
I didn't particularly like asking that question at restaurants either. I tended to overthink the situation and worry that the waiter would "roll his eyes" at me. Silly I know, but I just didn't have time for it.
So what I did was check the menu online in advance. I know its sounds obvious but it really does save time and unnecessary stress.

You do overcome that paranoia eventually though. In fact I have found that as veganism becomes more mainstream many restaurants really hope for feedback.

So yeah, stay strong positive and I wish you all the best. Don't be scared to be announce your veganism, and if people want to criticise you, then arm yourself with knowledge.

All the best
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#3 Old 11-18-2015, 05:01 PM
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Laure1991,

Congrats on your accomplishments!!

Don't let the opinions of other people deter you.

Live the life that YOU want to live!!

I went vegetarian overnight, and a year or so later, vegan overnight.

I never got any resistance from family members. They just watched, and now most of them are vegetarians. I never said anything, or pushed my opinion on them.

Live the life that makes YOU happy, and let the chips fall where they fall.

GOOD LUCK!!!!!!

All animals should be respected & should have the ability to lead a natural & enjoyable life. This means not eating them, or abusing them in any way.
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#4 Old 11-19-2015, 01:08 PM
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Hey Laure, I went through the same thing with my mother. She was very resistant and tried to talk me out of it, but as time went on she became used to it and helped me find vegan items. From what I've heard, many vegans and vegetarians receive a wave of initial resistance from friends and family members. However, people take awhile to adjust to big changes; they tend to get over it.

HappyCow has a listing of vegetarian/vegan restaurants worldwide. If you do go to a less vegan-friendly restaurant, prepare by looking up the menu to see if there are any vegan options or options that can easily be made vegan. It's actually easier to call ahead of time to see if a restaurant can accomodate a vegan. Many sides tend to be vegan so don't be afraid to pack them on. Some cuisines are more vegan-friendly than others (Indian, Thai, Mexican, Middle Eastern, etc.) so try to suggest those types of restaurants.

If all else fails, you can eat before going out. It also doesn't hurt to look at health food stores for home cooking.
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#5 Old 11-21-2015, 10:25 AM
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Hi Laure,

There is a huge vegan social group in Brussels: http://www.meetup.com/Brussels-Vegan-Meetup/ . They have get-togethers at least twice month.

There is a small raw vegan social group in Antwerp: http://www.meetup.com/Antwerp-Raw-Ve...g-Food-Studio/


Also, there are about 200 vegetarian and vegan restaurants throughout Belgium: http://www.happycow.net/europe/belgium/ . You might meet other vegans that way.

_________

Specific recommendations for a healthy diet include: eating more fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains; cutting down on salt, sugar and fats. It is also advisable to choose unsaturated fats, instead of saturated fats and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids."
- United Nations' World Health Organization
http://www.who.int/topics/diet/en/

Last edited by David3; 11-21-2015 at 10:28 AM.
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#6 Old 11-22-2015, 02:00 PM
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Being vegan can feel isolating at times, but it does get easier. Over time, the people who know you well will learn to accept this change, and you will learn how and when to engage others. I usually have a pretty brief description of why I am vegan (I don't want animals to suffer or die for my food), and any additional questions I will either address or not depending on who is asking, what the setting is (I try not to talk about these things at the dinner table), and how sincere I think they are. Some people I know are just trying to get a rise out of me, so I laugh off their challenges and try not to engage them. It is always an option to change the subject if someone is making you uncomfortable (or if they seem to be getting too defensive). If people feel that I am judging them, I try to reassure them that although I certainly think I am doing the right thing, no one is perfect. Even people who may think eating meat is wrong may have difficulty making a change for many reasons, and that's ok. Occasionally you might find someone who is interested in making a change, which is kind of fun.

As far as seeming difficulty or picky, there are a few things you can do. First, do your research ahead of time -- if you know you will be going to a certain restaurant, scope out potential options before you go. You might even call ahead. I try to have some veg-friendly restaurants in mind if my friends discuss going somewhere, so I can throw a few ideas into the ring.

If you are having dinner at a friends house, they will more than likely be accommodating (they are your friend after all!), but you can certainly offer to bring a vegan dish to share. Just be sure to give enough notice -- it won't be a problem for them to plan something vegan in advance, but on the day of it may be more difficult. If I'm going to a party where vegan food may be scarce, I often eat a light meal or snack beforehand to be sure I'm not crabby and starving. That way, any vegan options will just be a bonus, and you won't be relying on them for sustenance.

Finally, I would definitely recommend bringing a granola bar or energy bar with you in most situations, just in case. I was recently traveling and had a really difficult time getting substantial vegan food. The people I was with kept wanting to eat at the hotel restaurant, and although I was able to get vegan food, it left me very hungry. I could have gone off on my own, but to me it was better to spend time with the people I was with, knowing I could always have a granola bar and scope out a more veg-friendly restaurant for next time.

Hope this helps -- sometimes interacting with people about being vegan takes more energy than actually just being vegan!
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#7 Old 11-27-2015, 05:03 PM
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I know how you feel.

When you are a vegan, you are doing something for someone else. You are helping defenseless animals and the environment. It is a selfless act and one that requires discipline, empathy, compassion, spirituality and making the choice to do what's right when everything seems wrong. It takes courage to not change your ethics and moral views.
I find it disheartening and quite confusing when people react angrily to my veganism.
I am choosing a peaceful path, how does that deserve a negative reaction?
Sometimes, there's this herd mentality, that everyone is normal and shares the same guilt if they do the same bad thing. If a group does a bad thing, but you do the right thing, it's a lot of "you against them" and it's abnormal. Independent thinking makes them jealous to not have the same courage to take a stand.

It is really unfair to know that you did the right thing, and did not choose the immoral choice.

It's hard. It's hard to know that there are bad things in the world, but by creating change and finding alternatives, you will find positivity. You have to try harder than most people, but it's worth it. It's always worth that good feeling you get everyday, knowing that you didn't cause harm to life, and that you are guilt free. You aren't part of a brain washed culture. You think on your own. You speak up.
Eventually, more people catch on, and now veganism is out in the open. Things get better.
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