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Vegans - how do you deal with prejudice against your diet?

(34 Posts)
blueblah Wed 03-May-17 15:48:51

hello all,

i'm trying to be a vegan at the moment and I believe a balanced vegan diet can be perfectly healthy...

I'm looking for other vegans to provide information on how they tackle people on the offensive against them.

i'm not looking to start a bun-fight, I'm just interested in how vegans defend themselves against people who truly believe it is an unhealthy diet or get on the attack mode when "veganism" is mentioned...

it seems some people have prejudices against it and are quick to condemn it, or raise issues around it e.g. condemning use of vegan milk or whatever as it's a take on cow milk, or similar

some people seem to be dead set against it as if it's terrible not to have dairy or whatever.

I just don't want to be attacked or questioned for my dietary stance - I do not push it in their faces... it's strange, when people take a defensive position against someone's personal choice - even when I don't push it or try to convert them in the slightest....

I also believe any step towards it should be commended so if one person gives up milk but still eats cheese it's still commendable even though they still eat cheese - if you're slowly moving towards being vegan, any small thing should be celebrated rather than people pulling holes in you because you still eat doesn't mean your end goal is something different if you get me!

the last thing I want to do is come across as sanctimonious or preachy, or even defensive, so any thoughts from other vegans welcome.... smile

MrsWrex Wed 03-May-17 18:49:32

I don't know but I'm watching this with interest.

I have merely expressed an interest in becoming a vegan and my usually kind and quite relaxed dh reacted rather viciously. confused

I only mentioned it this morning (having read db's peta leaflet about that veganism and watched that Simon Amstrell doc on iplayer.

I didn't preach. I just stated why I felt I'd like to try it.

Since then he has brought it up himself a number of times and is quite scathing. I've been taken a back really.

I'm not sure why it's proved such an emotional response.

My dm came round and reacted in much the same way.

So far I've dealt with it by looking into exact RDA's for the things they are saying I won't get enough of (iron, calcium, b12) etc.

From what I can see it's perfectly doable with only a b12 supplement (that I already take anyway)

dangermouseisace Thu 04-May-17 11:19:16

I found that people were like that when I first went vegan. I've been vegan for over 20 years now. Funnily enough people don't question it any more- maybe because they can see that I'm fit and healthy. If it was bad for you surely I'd know about it by now! There are quite a few vegan ultra runners, and Forest Green Rovers is the UK's first vegan football club (and have done well for a small club), so it's not as if it's an unhealthy diet.

My usual line is that I personally couldn't kill an animal or fish, cook it and eat it, therefore I do not believe that I have the right to eat meat/fish. And I point out the problems with dairy- milk is for baby cows not humans!!! We take the milk destined for the baby cows, feed them on soya, and have the milk ourselves. I've not yet have anyone argue that this is not a bizarre thing…they usually say "but cheese!" as lots of people are addicted to it and then that's end of discussion!

Theducksarenotmyfriends Thu 04-May-17 11:40:59

I eat meat actually so can't really offer much help, but unlike pp I could face killing and eating an animal. I think if you're getting stick from a meat eater who couldn't face doing that they should be questioning their dietary choices imo.

I don't know why people get all het up about veganism, seems like they probably do feel guilt over what they eat?? Some relatives of mine got personally offended when I was veggie (for 10 years) saying I was always 'pushing it in their faces'. I wasn't, I just had to ignore them, they were weirdos.

Maybe you could kill them with kindness though? Invite them for yummy vegan dinner? My personal vegan fave is red curried lentils smile

StripeyZazie Thu 04-May-17 11:42:02

I think the best thing is to not engage:

E.g. "I respect your personal autonomy, I expect you to respect mine".

If you absolutely have to, and you are feeling a bit mischievous:

E.g. "You appear very emotionally over-invested in other people's diets. Have you considered therapy?" Maybe even with a chaser of "Supressed guilt can be very psychologically toxic you know".

I think the worsted thing is to get involved in some kind of blow by blow pros and cons type discussion. Most people who start this conversation aren't interested in a rational discussion about it. They just want to belittle/humiliate/bully etc and it's best not to indulge that I think. At best, they're not bullies but maybe have some emotional issues round food or tradition/upbringing, that frankly, a brief conversation isn't going to touch.

Those people who are interested in a rational conversation about dietary choices approach it very differently "Oh, that's interesting. I've often wondered what that means in practice..." etc.

LondonHerbivore32 Thu 04-May-17 14:56:15

As a vegan of 21 years, I find that people often react badly to vegans as your diet is exposing their sensitivity about being called out on the cruelty of their carnism.

I've faced a lot of what you're talking about over the years and now I just tend to laugh at anyone who tries to attack my choices, while pointing out the cruelty and negative health implications of theirs.

As an example, over last Christmas someone I work with found out I was vegan and took a huge issue with it, culminating in them saying that
they found my choice of Christmas dinner disturbing. I just howled with laughter and asked them how Tofurkey was more disturbing than eating a tortured corpse.

EezerGoode Thu 04-May-17 20:42:29

I've a friend who's convinced that me feeling ill (depression) is down to me needing dairy ..folk are funny..I find just merrily doing my own thing and not chatting about it helps..unless the other person is also vegan..

MakChoon Thu 04-May-17 20:52:52

I've been vegan for 20 years (veggie from birth before that) and have never had anyone say anything negative to me about it at all!

I've no idea why, I'm not particularly scary or anything!

I've only ever had people take interest, ask for advice or recipes.

BoobleMcB Thu 04-May-17 20:59:57

By telling anyone and everyone as soon as you meet them. I mean LITERALLY as soon. Before you're name and everything (though if you briefly forget, just after will suffice like: Hi, I'm BluBlah. I'm a Vegan

Goes and puts in bulletproof armour and fire retardent suit and hides in nuclear bunker

zzzzz Thu 04-May-17 21:01:26

I honestly think people just see it as a barrier to catering for you, eating as your guest, or finding places to eat together. They would just find it much EASIER if you ate what they ate. I really don't think there's any need to engage with their selfishness. (I say this as a meat eater with a huge and ever more complex set of friends and families dietary requirements)

OvariesForgotHerPassword Thu 04-May-17 21:03:16

grin booble

Rockaby Fri 05-May-17 08:32:05

I'm not vegan, but have told loads of people that I want to become vegan. I've had only positive reactions tbh. Plant based, wholefood diets are everywhere ATM. Even people I know who have no intention of giving up meat, eggs and dairy, now talk about vegan food and share recipes. I think it's a question of sustainability as well as cruelty, so even if people don't give a shit about animal welfare / cruelty, they do give a shit about the future of the planet. Tell these people they are out of touch, basically wink.

The only silly comment I had was from my (usually lovely) FIL and it made me smile; when I said I was doing Veganuary, so no thank you, I didn't want roast pork, but yes please, I did want a gin and cranberry juice he chortled and said "how is that vegan? It's not very healthy is it?" hmm.

dangermouseisace Fri 05-May-17 14:13:15

grin rockaby yes some people assume that if you're vegan you only eat healthy food. I've had people assume I'm no sugar no wheat whatever when going round theirs for dinner- maybe this is all due to that deliciously Ella person. I do worry about her type of veganism though. Definitely not enough calcium/protein etc. I worry that lots of people are not having calcium fortified milks in favour of more 'fashionable' milks. There seems to be a real backlash against soya products which I think is misguided. I'm at high risk of developing osteoporosis due to my medical history, but my bone density is actually good and I believe that is mainly due to my tofu/soya milk consumption.

YogaAndRum Fri 05-May-17 14:22:13

booble grin

YogaAndRum Fri 05-May-17 14:25:29

I live in hippyville so everybody is a vegan here. I've therefore got no advice, but good luck!

I do like stripeys phrase: 'you seem overly emotionally invested in other peoples' diets' etc. I might memorise that because we get the reverse thing here - if somebody catches you eating cheese you get a lecture.

Kursk Fri 05-May-17 14:25:58

I eat meat I have no issue with vegans, people are free to eat as they choose.

I only eat meat from animals we hunt. Weather it's monitary or physical you pay for your meat in one way

hellomarshmallow Fri 05-May-17 14:26:53

I'm not a vegan, but I have been vege/pescatarian for nearly 30 years. The only way is not to engage in that debate; there is literally no point. Humour goes a long way too, as does self-deprecation.

StiickEmUp Fri 05-May-17 14:27:58

I ignore everyone. None of their business.

ILoveDolly Fri 05-May-17 14:28:05

I'm not a vegan. I just thought I'd post that I think if you are experiencing hostility you've probably triggered some feelings of anxiety, either about catering for you, or because they feel guilty, or just because some people fear difference. Try not to take it personally. Diet is purely preference and everyone choses to eat or not to eat certain foods. You obviously are quite within your rights to choose veganism.

Goldfishjane Fri 05-May-17 14:29:26

I say "are you always this worked up about what other people eat?" and look worried. I'm not even fully vegan and I still get this. I am baffled by it.

Postagestamppat Fri 05-May-17 14:29:42

Very flippant answer: move to Brighton. I lived with with a vegan and she had no problems.

Goldfishjane Fri 05-May-17 14:30:43

"Humour goes a long way too, as does self-deprecation"

Why should anyone have to resort to that?

LozzaChops101 Fri 05-May-17 14:43:46

As per many things people deem fit to go on the offensive about, I usually just meet their gaze and give them a breezy/bored (depending) "ok," "right" or whatever similar short response is enough to make them realise you aren't interested in engaging in the topic. If they persist then it usually becomes clear to everyone that they're being obnoxious and they tend to shut up.

Unless they genuinely want to talk about it (this rarely happens) then I just give my personal reasons.

Plenty of famous vegans in all fields (both Williams sisters etc) to use as examples, and plenty of vegan or near-vegan religious faiths. It's nonsense for anyone to attack the health aspect.

(I get really bored with the pushy vegan stereotype)

claraschu Fri 05-May-17 14:44:49

I am not vegan, but have been on and off in the past. The worst I usually get is people making stupid jokes, which I tend to ignore or smile in a distracted and fleeting manner at.

If people start telling me about how we need milk because of osteoporosis, I point out that the US and the UK have some of the highest osteoporosis rates in the world, so I don't think that milk=bone-health has been proven.

I also say that I am happy to pick up road kill for my neighbours who eat pheasants, but that I am not a big fan of the meat industry.

In general people don't actually want to talk about it (they just want to needle you a bit), so I find that one or two slightly unpredictable and possibly interesting responses get them off your back.

Goldfishjane Fri 05-May-17 16:07:26

Oh I forgot
I have vegan relatives and I say bluntly that I'm scared of living as long as they did/are (no medical interventions unlike my non vegan parents) so that tends to shut people up too because then they get hung up on the un PC fact of me not wanting to live to 89.

It's never people you know well, I find. The poster talking about their DH, that must be quite shocking. I find it's usually at work events or when you meet new people. They are never worried about catering for me as I'm not in any dinner party type set.

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