If you’ve realized that a whole food vegan plant-based diet is good for your health and your waistline, you’re probably wanting to encourage your friends and family to jump on board and join you on the vegan plant-based bandwagon.
It makes sense, of course. We want others to have the same improved energy, health and overall wellness that we do. Or, maybe you want to make a difference in the world and you know that going vegan plant-based is the most environmentally sustainable and animal-friendly way to eat. There are so many things to feel good about with this lifestyle.
It’s worth reaching out and sharing your vegan plant-based passion. Just imagine the sense of community you’ll feel when you share meat and dairy-free meals with your loved ones.
But unfortunately, a bit like politics, dietary differences can sometimes cause friction. We’ve all heard those snarky remarks about the “birdseed” or “rabbit food” that we eat. But take hope — the odds are good that your home and social life will be more easeful when you’re all on the same “plate.”
To reduce stress and get that good feeling you’ll have from sharing the vegan plant-based lifestyle, let’s learn how to calm the waters. Below are 11 suggestions for gently but effectively coaxing your family, friends and even co-workers into trying a whole food plant-based diet filled with delicious flavors and an abundance of nutrition.
Tips for Sharing Your Vegan Plant-Based Lifestyle
1. Lead by Example
You’re more powerful than you think! When your friends and family see how well you’re doing on a vegan plant-based diet, they’ll take notice because they want the same health and wellness for themselves. Your positive life changes influence others more than you expect, or at the very least, your experience will likely make them more receptive and curious.
2. Stay Cool
Always remember to stay calm. If you get tense or upset, it’s unlikely that anyone’s going to receive your message. If you’re triggered emotionally, take a deep breath or switch the topic.
Your relationships matter and as wonderful as a vegan plant-based diet is, we don’t want it to be something that compromises our connection with those who matter most. Most likely nothing good will come from the interaction once it gets heated. It’s best not to have a discussion about diet while you’re eating — people have a right to enjoy their food in peace and the last thing they want is to hear your lecture!
3. Listen Well
Be aware that simply telling someone that you don’t eat meat or dairy can set off a cascade of feelings in the other person, even making them start to feel defensive about the way that they eat. It’s important to pay attention to how others are reacting to you. Keep in mind that timing is everything. Make sure that the other person is available and has at least some receptivity.
You can always plant a thought seed and pick up the thread at another more opportune moment. Use your intuition and my advice would be to err on the side of harmony.
4. Be Prepared
Do your homework and think through what you want to say. Have some quick facts and “talking points” to overcome the objections that others will inevitably make as you advocate a vegan plant-based diet. Being ready with answers backed by solid research will help you feel more confident.
People who are unfamiliar with a whole food vegan plant-based diet may have some misunderstandings, some of which are pretty common:
- “You can’t possibly be getting enough protein.”
- “You’re missing important nutrients, aren’t you?”
- “I heard soy was bad for you.”
- “Aren’t you hungry all the time?”
If you’re the kind of person who likes to write things down, you can even put your talking points on index cards and use them to practice.
5. Keep It Positive
Choose uplifting words and focus on the many documented benefits of plant foods such as having more energy, losing weight, lowering cholesterol levels and preventing or even reversing chronic illness, rather than the dangers of eating meat and dairy. Don’t bring up the negative aspects of someone’s diet unless they’re interested.
Fun and laughter are contagious.
6. Show Interest
Most people love it when you show interest in them! A great way to do that is by asking questions, which will give you important information on what’s holding them back from considering this lifestyle change.
Check-in questions: Are you worried that a plant-based diet will –
- Affect the people around you?
- Be too hard?
- Deprive you of the right nutrition and enough protein?
If you know what’s got them stuck, you’ll be able to respond knowledgeably while politely overcoming their objections one by one.
7. Share Vegan Plant-Based Success Stories
So many people have had success improving their health and overall well-being on a vegan plant-based diet. Weight loss is very common as well as the lessening of symptoms or outright elimination of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, acne and depression. You’ll find lots of these inspiring personal tales at Forks Over Knives.
8. Good and Good For You
While it’s important to describe the health benefits of a whole food vegan plant-based diet, people are naturally going to be curious about what the food is like. They’ll be wondering whether vegan plant-based foods will be hard to make or if they’re as tasty as what they’re used to. After all, if it’s not delicious, it’ll be hard to get anyone to stick with it.
Let people know how pleasantly surprised you were to find that fresh, healthy vegan plant-based food can be so satisfying. If you describe a delicious cashew mac and cheese, a tasty veggie lasagna, or a burrito loaded with crisp veggies, they’ll start imagining how that dish might be enjoyable for them.
Better yet, compile a list of your favorite plant-based meals to share, easy ones preferably, and be sure to include some beautiful food photos. There’s nothing like the colors of fresh fruits and vegetables, and we do eat with our eyes first.
9. Share Books
Some people are readers for whom a good book can have a bigger impact than anything you say about a vegan plant-based diet. A list of your favorite easy-to-read vegan plant-based books can be a great resource. I have a book list on my Complete Resources page that you can reference, but you may already have some that you know and love. It’s great if a book has recipes to help someone get going right away.
You can also loan your own books out or give them as gifts. I’ve gifted plant-based books to my friends for special occasions and those books have always been appreciated.
10. Invite Them for a Home-Cooked Meal
Most people love to be cooked for and serving your friends or family a vegan plant-based meal that looks and tastes delicious is a surefire way to seal the deal. Your best bet is to serve dishes that are familiar to them in vegan plant-based form, such as vegan burgers, pizza, pasta, soups, and salads. See my article “Meatless Makeovers and Dairy-Free Delights” for help with these easy conversions.
11. Watch Documentaries Together
Make a fun evening of it! After you’ve served a delicious plant-based meal with friends or family, watch an insightful plant-based documentary with them. There are many good films to choose from. I would, however, advise staying away from films that focus on animal cruelty. While it’s, of course, an important topic worthy of attention and consideration, it could be too intense for a beginner just starting to look for a healthier diet.
May the Vegan Plant-Based Force Be with You
Don’t be shy about sharing your enthusiasm for vegan plant-based living. I hope you’ll try out some of these suggestions and that they work for you. Remember, you’re sharing your plant-based lifestyle because you care about other people and want the best for them.
I’d love to hear how it goes, so please be in touch. Your feedback can help all of us spread the word about the benefits and the joys of a whole food vegan plant-based diet.
Good luck and have fun!