One of the many common misconceptions so far as leading a vegan lifestyle is that it’s hard.
In fact the hardest aspect for me is without doubt the attitudes of some non vegans. Thankfully it’s something I’m getting better at managing and in todays show on,
Lessons From Conversations With Carnivores
I’m sharing some of the strategies that work well for me.
I actually used to avoid the vegan conversation as I was keen to not appear preachy or judgemental or subject myself to unnecessary awkwardness. A few months ago I did a complete 180 and decided I’ll engage in respectful conversation at every opportunity. The cause (ending animal exploitation) is important enough. And how could my (or anyone else’s) potential discomfort possibly compare to that which we enforce on billions of animals annually anyway?
I’d like to frame todays show with the plea to please respect your own line in the sand and equally be prepared for that line to move.
To give a little context, I’m now onboard with forms of animal rights activism that I might not have supported just a few months ago. I’m not judging myself and I’m certainly not expecting myself to stay stuck to old beliefs when I now have new information. My line in the sand is inching away from: “What you do is fine so long as you don’t encroach on my right to do what feels ethical to me.”
It’s now closer to: “One has the moral obligation to disobey unjust laws.”
With that, let’s get rolling with 5 Steps To Have Positive Conversations With Carnivores.
Intention is everything. When your intention is genuine the super-vast-majority of your interactions will be positive because people can read genuine. Being vegan isn’t a moral high ground. It’s not about you or me. It’s about the animals and aligning your actions with your beliefs.
Beyond genuine, I’d also recommend you have the goal not to convince or convert yet rather to plant a seed. Everything counts. I recently heard activist Joey Carbstrong describe it as a points system. Let’s say someone needs 100 points to tip over into trying a vegan lifestyle. If they’re at zero you’re likely not going to get them to commit today. However perhaps you plant a few seeds / a few points. Maybe they then watch a documentary like What The Health and that’s another 15 or so points. Possibly they then see an old school friend who’s 20 kilo’s lighter, full of energy and reversed type 2 diabetes and that might be a huge 50 point hit. A delicious looking vegan breakie at their local cafe might be their personal tipping point (I’d put my money on caramelised banana + chia pancakes, poached berries, pistachio crumble, maple and coco-whip at speedos cafe here in Bondi!)
In short: be the vegan you wish you met. That certainly doesn’t mean holding your opinions or condoning animal exploitation. It just means expressing yourself in a calm, respectful manner that is more likely to create a positive impact / leave a positive impression.
Do your best to ask questions rather than making statements. So perhaps you could ask: “Do you think you need to eat animal products to be fit and healthy?” I’ve found the majority of people no longer believe we need to eat animal flesh and excretions to be healthy. If they agree it’s not necessary I’d follow up with something like: “If you agree it’s unnecessary to eat animal products then do you believe continuing to do so – continuing to inflict pain and suffering on these individuals – is morally justifiable?” That’s quite a heavy question so dependant on someones response (often Yes, but taste, Yes but convenience, Yes but it’s just what we do…) I’d respond with something like: “Yes I understand however what is your heart telling you?”
In all interactions I regularly remind myself that it’s a persons actions – NOT THE INDIVIDUAL – that I don’t respect or support. Sometimes that’s tougher than other times however very often I find people will match the energy I bring to the conversation so I want to keep it calm and respectful and….curious.
This is what makes it easier to have tough conversations with people with utterly opposing view points to yourself. Rather than trying to convince, convert or judge I highly recommend getting really curious about what makes someone else believe what they do.
When someone just does not seem affected by looking at slaughter house footage I’m curious to know WHY?
When someone tells me there’s a humane way to kill an animal I’ll ask them genuinely: “Can you explain to me how you’d kill an animal that does’t want to die, humanely?”
Equally people will give glues as to what might be their buy in (so to speak) on a vegan lifestyle and it’s vital to focus on what’s compelling to them not what’s compelling to you. Maybe they’re more likely swayed by their own health, or global hunger, or environmental impact / sustainability and in that case it’s not going to be as effective focusing on the suffering of the individual animals.
Four: Feel, Felt, Found.
This framework starts by letting someone know you’ve heard tham. Perhaps someone states: “I just cannot imagine enjoying food if I couldn’t eat any animal products.”
The natural response would be: “I understand why you might FEEL that way. In fact I’ve never met someone who went vegan because they hated the taste of all animal products! In fact I once FELT that way too. I used to eat animal products 3 times a day and say that I could never be vegetarian. The thing is I’ve now FOUND there’s a vegan alternative for everything I used to love as a meat eater. From pizza, to burgers, nacho’s, ice cream, yoghurt and cheese. Whatever food you most love you can find a delicious vegan version and know that no one has to die for you to enjoy that meal.”
Compassion was the suprise strategy and benefit I’ve experienced since going vegan. It’s been my experience that the more compassion I show the more I get reflected back at me. You might have noticed it’s the same (to your detriment) with judgement. The more you project the more you’ll get reflected back at you.
It’s perhaps a bit late in the podcast to share these Lessons From Conversations With Carnivores are likely most effective face to face. I’m not sure about the online conversations… I think a lot can get lost so far as intent and sincerity. A question may sound confronting and judgemental when typed and yet face to face you can show compassion when asking the same question. Equally there’s something special about two people having a genuine and at times vulnerable conversation face to face without the obligatory pile on of haters and supporters alike that an online discussion often invites.
Even more important than the compassion you show others in conversations with carnivores is the compassion you show yourself.
I’ll often think, “I wish I said that instead!” or “Why did I back down when confronted with that ridiculous lie?” The lesson I’m learning is rather than give myself grief for any conversations that could have gone better, instead document HOW it could have gone better so that I’m prepared next time.
Sometimes you might be shocked into silence be the lack of truth or lack of empathy someone reveals in a statement.
Sometimes you might be overpowered by the sheer certainty and conviction someone emanates.
Sometimes you might be steered off track into a completely unrelated conversation.
Sometimes you might not be able to recall the exact statistics or study or science to clarify your point.
All of these ‘sometimes’ have happened to me however I see them as an opportunity to get better prepared for next time and I trust that in every conversation I’ve at least planted a seed.
To get actionable today if you can recall a recent less than ideal conversation with a carnivore, how could you ensure it goes better next time?
Often beyond: Intention, being Non-Judgemental, being Curious, utilising Feel, Felt, Found and Compassion I’ve found knowledge really helps and my 4 absolute favourite sources to improve my knowledge are:
Michael Gregor MD’s book (I also have the audible version which is fab): How Not to Die.
Anna E. Charlton and Gary L. Francine’s book, Eat Like You Care.
Michael Gregor MD’s website: nutritionfacts.org.
That’s it for this week in Healthification. Huge gratitude to YOU for sharing this week with me. I respect your time and appreciate your support – so Thank you!
The Healthification podcast is proudly bought to you by my FREE ‘Easy Vegan’ plan. It took me 25 years to transition from a meat eater to a happy, healthy Vegan! You can do it in just 3 days with my simplified ‘easy vegan’ plan! Get the fit, strong, and healthy plant based body you deserve… while avoiding ALL the mistakes I made along the way!
Till next time, remember Creating a body and life you love is Freedom. (If this ex-carb queen, NON-genetically gifted, naturally uncoordinated VEGAN-chick can do it – so can YOU!!!)
If you liked ‘Lessons From Conversations With Carnivores‘ you’ll also like: 6 Steps To Easy Plant Based Eating (Part 1)
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