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Q: I wanted to ask if you had any tips about having a successful "vegan conversation". People seem to get so worked up when they hear I am vegan and I am finding it tricky to deal with. - Trying to Communicate
Dear Trying to Communicate,
Thanks for the question. Having conversations about our choices and values is something that all vegans have to do on a regular basis. Partly because people are always asking us about our food choices (funny because no-one cared what I ate before I went vegan!) and partly because we do tend to drop the "V" word a lot.
Conversations often get heated and emotional because values are involved and the communication skills we might otherwise use, can fly out the window. But learning how to communicate is essential if you want to share the vegan message effectively and/or you want to avoid tense and unpleasant arguments.
Here are a few tips that will help.
Timing: As a general rule, don't talk about why you are vegan while people are eating. It is never going to lead to a good conversation. Better to say something like " I am happy to talk to you about my reasons for going vegan, but you probably don't want to hear them while you are eating, ask me again after dinner"
Also wait until people ask you questions, rather than launching into your vegan spiel.
Have some empathy: Unless you were born into a vegan family, chances are you were once a meat eater too. Cast your mind back and remember what that was like, how you felt about veganism then, how long it took you to see the light and embrace plant based eating. If ever you start to get frustrated remember back to those times. Also sharing your own story from meat eater to plant muncher is a great way to communicate your vegan values, and make a positive connection with your audience.
Have a conversation: Make sure you are having a dialogue, listen and ask questions. Don't lecture. Nobody likes to be bossed around or spouted at.
And know when you need to walk away. Some people just aren't interested and don't want to hear anything you have to say on the subject. Save your breath for someone who does.
Georgia Bamber is a vegan success coach based in the Southern Highlands NSW. Certified in coaching and plant based nutrition she knows a thing or two about embracing a vegan lifestyle. You can find out more about Georgia and how she can help you at www.georgiabamber.com.