While our friends and family may want the best for us, it does not mean they’ll never disappoint us.
Veganism and animal rights happen to be two topics – or one, however you look at it – that trigger a great number of people. Those we love included.
So how do we talk to them? How do we communicate our values without destroying relationships or insulting those who are still asleep? There must be an answer.
There is. I promise.
But before I share what I’ve learnt on my vegan journey, let me remind you of something.
Be kind. I mean be kind to yourself when dealing with people who are not vegan. Only interact if you feel ready and willing. Never push yourself simply because you feel like you should.
Use kindness as fuel to share what you know, not as a tool to self-destroy. We want others to feel connected and touched, but we also want to feel true to our own hearts.
Here is what I know to be true when talking about veganism with our loved ones:
- Accept their beliefs and opinions as they are real to them.
We do not choose our beliefs and opinions. They are formed during our lifetimes and depending on what type of environment we are in.
Our genes, parents, hometown, country… all of these things shape us into the person we are, and free will is kind of not on the menu.
That means that we can only truly have a chance at changing when our environment and situations change. A cult member will only realize they are in a cult when they get exposed to the outside world.
So when they talk to you, they are exposed to a vegan world that is very different from the one they currently live in.
When you accept their reality as being their reality, you can influence them. You can inspire them. You never know what sentence or words might be the turning point for them.
- Love them, not their actions.
Everyone does shit that is bad and hurtful. Absolutely every single person, including yourself, has at least one bad habit that is not beneficial to the world.
Do you know how you can change it? By being loved, accepted and supported by those who mean a lot to you.
Very few people change when shamed or bullied.
When non-vegan friends or family members try to pick a fight, raise them to your level of love by, well, loving them. Walk away if you need to or simply ask them to lower their voice, change their tone or use different words.
Set boundaries but remain their loved one.
- Be human when you need to be.
There are times when we need to be vegan activists and there are times when we simply need to be human.
These two identities, let’s say, coexist together, of course, but they manifest in different ways. When you are an activist, you are pushier and radical, but when you are simply a human being, you are free of identities.
Nothing affects you because you are not trying to affect anything yourself. You just are.
This authenticity spreads like a good virus and infects people with, you know it, love. I’m not trying to be spiritual and sound insane, but we all crave humanity from one another. We just want people to be people.
If you follow these three tips, communication around sensitive topics will become more grounded in compassion and love.
Setting boundaries is another piece of advice I would give, but more about that in the future. I believe that first, we must learn how to stay mindful and peaceful when in the presence of those who disagree with us.
We are coexisting with 8 billion individuals on this beautiful planet. There is no time or place for hate or wars of any kind.
Veganism is about equality, so we must look at everyone through the vegan lens, even human animals. It is our most difficult task and the most challenging journey we will ever embark upon.
Do what your heart already knows is right and your relationships will improve.
p.s. – Find me on Pinterest.