The holidays are here and for most vegans, that can mean dreaded encounters with loved ones, so what better time to share some tips on how to spread the vegan agenda efficiently and foster meaningful encounters ?
These tips are especially helpful for new vegans because it’s easy to be overzealous and miss the mark with your activism. You may also find this article useful if you’re a non-vegan because it provides insight as to what kind of energy to bring to the table to maximize the value you get from a conversation about veganism. Let’s dig in!
1- open heart / open mind
Before you engage in a discussion about veganism, question whether the person you’re speaking with has an open heart and/or an open mind – these are usually the two prerequisites for a meaningful discussion about veganism. When I say “open heart”, I mean the person is willing to expand their circle of compassion to include non-human animals and when I say “open mind”, I mean that they are willing to criticize the worldview they were raised with i.e carnism.
While you can reason with someone or pull at their heartstrings, if someone is closed off both mentally and emotionally, it’s wiser to just back away from that discussion since it is unlikely that either of you will gain positively from that interaction. As disheartening as it may be, not everyone is going to be receptive to veganism and it’s your job to recognize who your target audience is and invest your energy in those people.
2- establish why are you engaging in this discussion
Once I’ve decided to talk about veganism with someone, I know that they have some level of openness toward the cause, so my purpose is just to get them one step closer toward veganism. Since most of us go vegan gradually, it means that there were multiple stages in our journeys and you never know where the person you’re talking to is at, so ask them and adjust in consequence.
I struggled with this as a baby vegan (0-2 years in) because the switch had just gone off for me and it was like I had been visited by the messiah or something. I wanted everyone around to realize the fucked-up ways in which they participate in the exploitation of others and put an immediate end to it. Sadly, the reality is that few people are willing to significantly change and of those few, many are not ready to go vegan yet so just aim to get people closer to veganism or at least get them to be more receptive to the cause than they were before the conversation.
3- strive to challenge beliefs without pushing for veganism
This is a key one, and many people lose their audience at this stage because if someone feels as though you are pushing the vegan agenda they read that as though you are attacking them so their defensive wall goes up, and you have no way of truly connecting with them. So, tread lightly and advocate for animal rights as non-judgmentally as possible. Also, don’t suggest that veganism is the solution, just guide people to question their choices and let them come to veganism on their own. Most of the time, these conversations just plant the seed for people to reduce their consumption of animal products which is great, but sometimes that reduction can lead to someone going vegan overtime. So, remember to be patient with non-vegans and encourage any positive change they may make.
(full disclosure: I still struggle with that last one because animals are literally suffocating in their waste, being ground up alive, and having their throats slit amongst a myriad of other atrocities yet I have to show non-vegans compassion because they just love eating animals so much? It feels unnatural for me to genuinely express that level of compassion toward non-vegans, but if I want to reduce the aggregate amount of animal exploitation, it’s imperative to encourage any small steps people are taking toward that larger goal.)
4- trust the universe
You can’t do it all. When you meet a carnist, you can push them to reflect on their behaviours, educate them, and provide them with tools to change, but only they can make the switch.
Remember, you don’t have control over when people make the switch or what initially makes them go vegan, but you can control when you go vegan and how you advocate for animal rights once you do, so be smart and engage with intent.