Need advice - best friend gave up on veganism - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 10-26-2016, 01:00 PM
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Question Need advice - best friend gave up on veganism

Hello,
I am hoping I can get some input from other vegans out there, as I don't know any I can talk to about this in my daily life.

My best friend decided to go vegan after living with my husband and I (we are both vegan) after we all watched the documentary Earthlings. She balled her eyes out, said she would never eat meat again, and had that "click" moment that most of us have when we decide to go vegan. She seemed committed. Well, the time came for her to move out and five days after she moved out her roommates friend came over and cooked a meal with shrimp. I saw a post of this on instagram and asked her if she ate it (she did). She told me that veganism is too inconvenient for her and she jumped into it too fast. She said she doesn't want to feel guilty for her decision and hoped I would understand.

I do not understand, at ALL. I do not know what to do. I am angry and I don't understand how someone can do this. My husband and I are ethical vegans that take this responsibility VERY seriously. I know many people are vegan and decide it's not right for them but I think those people are selfish and willingly impart suffering on other beings (because they know exactly what they're contributing to). My friend didn't even try to do it on her own, she only lasted five days! It makes me so angry that she couldn't even try, try for the animals, for our planet, for peace. It doesn't take that much to learn how to cook again, find recipes and pin them on Pinterest. I don't know if I can be friends with someone who is so selfish and refuses to admit what she is doing. I don't know if I can get over the resentment I will feel for her every time we hang out, when I see her eat animal products...is this reaction normal?
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Last edited by voice4thevoiceless; 10-26-2016 at 01:05 PM. Reason: forgot to add something* I did all the cooking when we lived together.
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#2 Old 10-26-2016, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by voice4thevoiceless View Post
Hello,
I am hoping I can get some input from other vegans out there, as I don't know any I can talk to about this in my daily life.

My best friend decided to go vegan after living with my husband and I (we are both vegan) after we all watched the documentary Earthlings. She balled her eyes out, said she would never eat meat again, and had that "click" moment that most of us have when we decide to go vegan. She seemed committed. Well, the time came for her to move out and five days after she moved out her roommates friend came over and cooked a meal with shrimp. I saw a post of this on instagram and asked her if she ate it (she did). She told me that veganism is too inconvenient for her and she jumped into it too fast. She said she doesn't want to feel guilty for her decision and hoped I would understand.

I do not understand, at ALL. I do not know what to do. I am angry and I don't understand how someone can do this. My husband and I are ethical vegans that take this responsibility VERY seriously. I know many people are vegan and decide it's not right for them but I think those people are selfish and willingly impart suffering on other beings (because they know exactly what they're contributing to). My friend didn't even try to do it on her own, she only lasted five days! It makes me so angry that she couldn't even try, try for the animals, for our planet, for peace. It doesn't take that much to learn how to cook again, find recipes and pin them on Pinterest. I don't know if I can be friends with someone who is so selfish and refuses to admit what she is doing. I don't know if I can get over the resentment I will feel for her every time we hang out, when I see her eat animal products...is this reaction normal?
I don't think her reaction is normal, especially after watching Earthlings...But this reaction from one vegan to another is.

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#3 Old 10-26-2016, 04:01 PM
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Most people who try to make any major change too rapidly will fail. In general, advice given to new vegans is to have a plan and go slowly. If you were able to make a quick change, that's great, but that's not the case for everyone.

I tried to go vegan quickly several years ago. It was a disaster. Now, I'm doing it slowly, more thoughtfully, and it goes a lot better. But I definitely sympathize with people who struggle or who feel way too overwhelmed to know what to do. The all-or-nothing mindset isn't going to work here.

The friends you choose are up to you, of course. Just my two cents. But I know no vegans in my everyday life, so I'd be friendless if I wasn't willing to be friends with omnivores.
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#4 Old 10-28-2016, 11:36 AM
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I think it needs to be considered that the commitment to veganism takes more than just a love for animals. You need to be emotionally ready to say "NO" an awful lot. It can be harder for some people than others to do that, especially when it's someone they care about offering them food. My husband is one of these people - I went vegan basically overnight LOL, whereas he's worked into it gradually; now he feels more comfortable answering questions from curious people at work, and refusing non-vegan food when it's offered to him, but at first he felt it too overwhelming and had a really tough time with it.

Perhaps your friend just needs some encouragement and a helping hand to incorporate some vegan meals into her lifestyle, for now - after all, it doesn't have to be all or nothing ^_^
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#5 Old 10-28-2016, 05:03 PM
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Your reaction is normal.

I think the first thing you need to do is take a breather. You don't want to say something you might regret later. It can't hurt to take a day or two to think over your feelings. Of course, your feellings may not change at all, but it's good to reflect. Still, your post was a day or two back, so maybe you've done that already.

I have noted that some vegans can be more hostile to ex-vegans than people have never tried veganism at all. This may not be fair or logical since at least they tried it.

Also, being very hostile to ex-vegans and trying to stop them leaving can be perceived as cult like behaviour. It puts vegans, in people's eyes, alongside scientologists and radical muslims who believe in apostasy. Anything, whether a belief system, or whatever else, needs to make it easy for people to leave. It's wrong to try and stop people "leaving". This may seem like nonsense and an unfair analagy for any number of reasons, and I don't fully believe it all myself, but it's how some none-vegans will see it. Things like that could be counter productive for the vegan cause because they enable people to use the veganism-as-cult argument as an excuse for meat eating.

It's not just about your friend. Get hostile to ex-vegans, or cut them off, and the story may get around. It may not be constructive to explicitly criticize for eating shrimp as a one off.

I suggest you give some positive feedback to your friend for trying it in the first place, and consider accepting for instance a mostly vegan approach, or vegetarianism, or whatever.

And then see how things develop over time. I would not necessarily cut them off. Friendships should be about more than one aspect, and you also lose the chance to influence by cutting someone off.

Still, if all this feels really unfair to you, you are going to have to go with your gut as well...
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#6 Old 10-29-2016, 07:44 AM
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Hi, in my respectful opinion, you are making a big mistake. That's your best friend you are talking about. You are saying that she did not even give it a try, and I find this ironic. Aren't you doing the same? Many vegans fall off the vagon early, only to find their rhytm later. Don't abandon your best friend, if she truly is, though the fact that you are even contemplating this, makes me question this.

I feel like you are simply on a moral high ground, and unwilling to help her, because that would mean having to come down. I'm sorry If that analogy was harsh, but we are talking about your best friend. That's not a person you can ever replace. Just my opinion, I hope everything will work out, and she continues her vegan diet.
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Last edited by Gallo; 10-29-2016 at 02:01 PM.
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#7 Old 10-29-2016, 11:23 AM
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I've been in a similar situation with a friend who went vegan and then fell off the wagon and it really does hurt. In a way it's like a smack in the face to have someone you consider a really close friend seem to agree with your ideals at first and then totally go back on it. It's like a betrayal and it's easy to think of that person as cruel and heartless...

However, as others have said here I think the best thing you can do is take a breather and then try to be encouraging and keep leading by example. My friend who started eating meat again stayed my friend even though I was upset and I just kept sharing vegan food and posting vegan articles on Facebook and stuff, eventually he started dabbling with eating more vegan food again and now he's sticking with it and as far as I know has been fully vegan for quite awhile.

It can just take time to overcome a lifetime of habit, changing the way you eat is a pretty huge thing for most people and even when faced with knowledge about all the animal cruelty on factory farms it can still be easy to feel helpless and start making excuses and rationalizing it to yourself. Everyone else is doing it, I don't want to feel awkward in social situations, I don't know what to eat, it's too expensive, etc...

The book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer discusses the cultural and social ties people have to eating meat and how food is such a huge part of so many traditions and that can be hard to break away from right away. He suggests that we need to make new traditions and new positive memories centered around vegan food and that's how we can make those changes stick. So just by continuing to be friends with this person and sharing vegan food and supporting any vegan choices she makes you can help her get there in the end, it just might take awhile.
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#8 Old 10-29-2016, 12:08 PM
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Smile "Giving up" is the greatest threat to the vegan movement

Your reaction is totally normal, but try not to give up on your friend.

Faunalytics has some great research that about 2% of the current population are vegan or vegetarian, but 10% of the population are FORMER vegans or vegetarians.

People give up on veganism every day, and realistically, it's usually because they feel isolated and alone. That's why it's so important to get involved in a vegan community (online is good, but real world is important as well) as soon as possible after going vegan. Having a support network is vital.

I think that the idea that it's hard to get vegan food is becoming a less viable argument these days, but it's true that most vegans don't feel supported and often feel angry and alone (with good reason).

For me, having an online community, a real life community and being focused on ethical veganism - have made it a lot easier for me. I'd love to be way more committed to whole foods, but convenience vegan foods have helped my whole family stay vegan. My kids really appreciate being able to order vegan pizza, etc (we're lucky to have pizza w/Daiya available here in Canada to order). So I think encouraging your friend to aim for progress and not perfection - and to seek out community - is really important. Vegans often think that outreach is the most important thing to be doing, but I think that "in reach" or community building is actually MORE important (which is actually one of the reasons I don't like to criticize ANY vegan organizations, because I think all of them help people stay passionate, which is more important than whether or not their activism is a little silly).
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#9 Old 10-29-2016, 12:12 PM
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I've been watching this thread for a couple of days and, to be honest, I find the views expressed here to be disturbing and cultish. I urge those of you, including the original poster, who would consider dropping someone as a friend because they ate shrimp to try to take a step back and look at things from a broader perspective. Unfortunately, billions of animals suffer and are killed by the animal agriculture industry every month. It's a tragedy, but it's only one tragedy among several in this world. Another tragedy is human animals being exploited for labor to make the things we in the developed world buy everyday. I'm not justifying either. Both are wrong. But would you drop someone as a friend because they bought a pair of shoes made in a third world factory by exploited workers? Would you drop someone as a friend because they drive a car that emits carbon, which will contribute to the suffering caused by climate change? All of these are bad things, as (of course) animal agriculture is a bad thing.

The best that we, as human animals, can do is to try to make the world we're born into a better place to whatever small degree we can. If your friend decides that she will be "mostly vegan" and eat shrimp occasionally, that's doing far, far better when it comes to alleviating suffering that 97% of the population does. Not good enough, it seems, though.

I would recommend, first, taking a step back from the Manichaean, pure-good versus pure-evil world view and approach to the ethical treatment of animals. It's a complex world. People do all kinds of things for all kinds of reasons, and there are gray areas. In the long run, the best that can be hoped for is that animal agriculture will be severely reduced, to the point where it's mostly eliminated. This will probably take at least 100 years, unfortunately. In the meantime, not sweating it if your friend has shrimp or cheese once in a while will, first, be a more reasonable position and, second, will almost certainly make your friend more comfortable with veganism, or quasi-veganism, and will keep her from becoming so turned off to the whole thing that she goes back to being a full-blown, daily meat eater. She might even eventually become an actual vegan given time. But even she doesn't, her being an occasional meat eater is a big win for farmed animals compared to how most people live. Bottom line: a more relaxed approach will actually help animals.
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#10 Old 10-29-2016, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Werewolf Girl View Post
I've been in a similar situation with a friend who went vegan and then fell off the wagon and it really does hurt. In a way it's like a smack in the face to have someone you consider a really close friend seem to agree with your ideals at first and then totally go back on it. It's like a betrayal and it's easy to think of that person as cruel and heartless...
For the bold part... A couple of childhood friends (although at this point, we're more just acquaintances. Due to distance, not veganism) said they felt bad for the animals and wanted to stop eating meat, and yet in 3 years since they first said that (and they have said it more than once too) I have never known of them to actually give it a try. A little disappointing, really.

On topic: I agree with the parts saying that perhaps trying to switch so fast was too overwhelming for her. I am also curious whether this person is just eating sea food or also other types of meat. A lot of people have a harder time connecting with sea animals.
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#11 Old 10-29-2016, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Dilettante View Post
I've been watching this thread for a couple of days and, to be honest, I find the views expressed here to be disturbing and cultish. I urge those of you, including the original poster, who would consider dropping someone as a friend because they ate shrimp to try to take a step back and look at things from a broader perspective.
?? Maybe I'm blind, but I don't see anyone here telling her to drop that friend. Just people saying that they understand how she feels.
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#12 Old 10-29-2016, 02:24 PM
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?? Maybe I'm blind, but I don't see anyone here telling her to drop that friend. Just people saying that they understand how she feels.
Probably this-
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I don't know if I can be friends with someone who is so selfish and refuses to admit what she is doing. I don't know if I can get over the resentment I will feel for her every time we hang out, when I see her eat animal products...is this reaction normal?
A common first reaction when people hear I'm veg'n is to talk about watching all the horrific documentaries and still wanting meat.
I think it's even more difficult when people are fully impacted by the reality of the meat industry then when they just 'decide' to give up meat. It's like they become aware that they should never ever ever think of animals as food. That can be very overwhelming, and a common reaction is avoidance and denial. For me, when I read books like "how not to die" I started eating even more junk foods. I know the reality but rebel over the finality of giving them up. Once I calm down, I'm able to cut back and slowly get used to healthier eating.
Giving up a lifetime of traditions that brings wonderful memories to mind is not an easy thing to do. Harsh words of admonition to turn all your focus on something you're not used to thinking about and turning their back on everything and everyone they're used to is not helpful. It's way easier to deny the emotions that gave the desire to give up meat than feel so guily and weak
Even cutting meat to one meal a day, or even one day a week is far more realistic when someone feels they need to transition.
When I gave up cigarettes I used nicotine replacements for over a year. You may not feel thats a comparison, but for many it is very much the same
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#13 Old 10-31-2016, 07:46 PM
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Right. You have to get used to it. And not everyone lives in the same emotional world. For me, the grocery store has generally always been anxiety-provoking. Deciding to go vegan made it so severely anxiety-provoking that I wouldn't be able to confront the food and would just go home and cry. And that's even though I started with only cutting out certain animal products rather than all of them. I also found myself rather bewilderingly gravitating toward junk food, even though I very rarely ate such things before the vegan transition began. This was partly because of calories, I think, but also because of a need to be comforted. Cookies and chips and candy suddenly found themselves in my cart alongside tofu and veggies and beans. I am now no longer purchasing animal products, but that took time for me to get to, and I'm still buying vegan chocolate every time I go to the store.

Food is more than fuel. It is social--humans are a social species, after all--and has profound psychological impact. We all do things we probably shouldn't. We all grow and learn and change. Your friend will respond more to your willingness to walk alongside her than a harsh outright rejection. This is also true of people struggling to make other changes in their lives, like leaving an abusive partner.
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#14 Old 12-13-2016, 05:21 AM
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People are easily influenced by how society perceives them (me included) But most of us who stick to veganism have a higher threshold to resisting this. Some have the resistance naturally, some need to develop it. Help your friend develop it. If you close your self out to her, there is much less chance she will come back. But if you try to gently influence her, she may as well built up that resistance little by little. Then when her other friends offer her meat again, she will have the courage to say no.


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#15 Old 01-01-2017, 06:24 PM
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Good comments from everyone about hanging in there and being patient, but I can totally understand the OP. Irritation, resentment, anger, yep those would all be me in the same situation. I know how I feel when I have to bite my tongue when with family because I must 'keep the peace' and they've already made it clear that there will be no discussion on this or any other subject that 'they chose'. Hate it which is why I'm glad that I'm old, finite number of years to have to deal with those bozo's.
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