7 tips to deal with non-plant-based family and friends
While the flame of compassion might make changing your entire lifestyle a breeze, there are certain challenges that need managing. And one of these challenges is family members who might not share a similar passion. Having to change their own lifestyle, giving up on foods that they love, a certain level of ego, or purely lack of knowledge are some of the reasons why your family members might not share your enthusiasm for a plant-based lifestyle.
However, transitioning to a plant-based diet need not necessitate a “confrontation” with your family and friends. Here are seven tips to navigate your relationships through your journey:
- Introduce gradually
While you transition, share your thought process gradually with your family and friends so they too can begin to understand your beliefs. Instead of suddenly surprising them with a big reveal, explain it to them gradually. Let them know that this is not just a phase but a meaningful change you are making through an informed decision to support an important cause.
- Educate innovatively
Change can only come with awareness, so it is very important to educate your near ones. Don’t preach but explain to them the significance and reasons behind your choices. Use innovative methods such as videos, articles or podcasts so they become familiar with the concepts behind plant-based diet. Their reactions can vary from being defensive to dismissive, while some may even be open to it or question you. Stand your ground, be persistent, answer their questions, and engage in healthy meaningful conversations.
- Communicate carefully
Communication is the key to build trust and understanding. Inform your family of the steps you are taking and the food products that you will or won’t use. Express clearly that while you will not accept any animal products, you do not despise them for using such products. Let them know that you will still be eating meals made by them, after substituting with plant-based alternatives and that meal time will still be a loving family affair. You may still have to answer several questions and have the same conversations over and over again, but be patient.
- Shop together
Tell your family and friends what you choose to eat. Help them with shopping and introduce them to plant-based products. Show them that becoming plant-based is not as expensive as they might think it is. Also, ask them to read the product labels and shop wisely, and let them know how many products they use are not animal-friendly. To make it easier for your family, give them a list of products you use and educate them on what is plant-based and what is not.
- Be the chef!
Share your food with your family. Volunteer to cook for them and whip up simple plant-based recipes to show them that it is neither expensive nor difficult. To make the introduction gradual you can start with mock meat, plant-based milk, and plant-based specialities to show them that compassionate options are equally tasty and nutritious. Moreover, seeing you take complete control of your decisions will make it easier for your family to accept and even adopt your ethics.
- Stay compassionate
Being plant-based is synonymous with compassion. So remember to abstain from being forceful. Change comes gradually, so be patient and become the example that your loved ones can follow. Furthermore, be understanding if they make mistakes or push you to do things like before. Be firm but compassionate when explaining to them what they can do to help you stick to your life choices.
- Just be there
Be prepared to face consequences but respond with compassion. They may or may not change their opinions with time, but they are your loved ones. Watching you, they may embrace certain aspects of the lifestyle. They may gradually accept it and change, so ensure that you encourage and educate them as they join you. You can influence them by being there for them.
Use these tips and find your happiness and acceptance among your relations without compromising on your lifestyle choices or ethics. Be the conversation starter and change the world through compassion. And for anyone who wants to get started and seeks information about how to switch to a plant-based diet, here’s the perfect guide.