Navigating Questions and Comments: Discussing Your Vegan Lifestyle With Others

April 17, 2024

Kim Milligan shares some thoughts on talking with friends and family about your veg journey

Today’s topic is fielding questions and comments about your food choices. Sometimes these come from genuine curiosity. Sometimes it feels like someone is challenging your choice.

Kim Milligan from our community suggests: “Keep the channels of communication open without judgment and share what being a vegan means to you personally and how your life has changed since becoming a vegan…people will tend to be more open and receptive to what you’re sharing”

We love Kim’s thoughts on this important topic. More suggestions from our community are below. And you can also hear from others firsthand at one of our upcoming events

Keep your inspiration in mind

When talking to others, it’s often helpful to keep in mind the inspiration that got you started in the first place. Share that with your friends and family — personal stories are powerful. You’ll probably find that most people want to be understanding as long as they aren’t feeling judged. 

Understanding issues underlying a move to a plant-based diet may also be helpful for some discussions. These might be related to the impact on animals or how it’s better for the planet and human health. When you have more facts, you may feel more able to discuss issues in greater depth, as appropriate. Another blog in this series will share resources to help you in this area too.

Tips from our community for talking with friends and family about your vegan diet/lifestyle

  • I try to always be positive. I am always responsible for making sure I have food I can take for myself and to share. -Stephanie Paquin
  • 1. Offer friends and family resources such as books or trusted websites to read so they can get a better sense of it. 2. Cook or bake a meal for them to show just how delicious vegan food can be. 3. Provide lots of evidence. Make sure they know that you are getting the right nutrients, protein, and vitamins in your food. -Beatrix Olson
  • Lead by example and answer questions… no preaching. -Don Price
  • It’s much easier to approach this from a health perspective as it’s less alienating. I talk about how going plant based and “natural” lowered my blood pressure to the point I no longer had to take medication. I also may talk about the carbon footprint of animal agriculture and pollution of air, soil, and water. If there was a recent story in the media either promoting plant-based or showing adverse effects of eating meat I might work that into the conversation: “Did you see that story yesterday about…” -Roland Halpern
  • I mostly find living by example is best. If asked, I give honest answers. I do not get into debates. -Kathleen Jefferies 
  • I simply say that I don’t think animals on farms are treated as they should be and this is a personal choice. I am very respectful of other people’s dietary choices. I also speak openly about the mistakes I’ve made along the way so that others see that you don’t have to be perfect to make an impact. -Allison Gamble
  • The impact of climate change on my kids’ lives is a huge concern for me. Going vegan has been the easiest, cheapest, and most effective climate action that I’ve ever taken. It’s a lot easier than you might think. And experimenting with different recipes is a lot of fun! The health aspects of eating vegan food (ie. plant-based food being cholesterol free) might resonate with older folk. -Nicola Philpott
  • I have no problems talking to my immediate family and new friends about veganism, but for some reason it feels a lot harder to bring it up with long term friends because of the fear of them shutting down what I say and then feeling uncomfortable with them in the future. Try to ask thoughtful questions and actually listen to their responses. I’ve had conversations that got heated and tense and ultimately didn’t change anyone’s mind, but trying to connect and empathize seems to go better (and got my friend to tell me they were trying to eat more vegan next time I saw them 🙂 ) -Grace Prins
  • Approach friends and family with a genuine interest to educate them and not try and persuade a “lifestyle” change or push “opinions” about non-vegans. Kim Milligan
  • It can be hard to understand at first, but over time it really becomes quite normal and, if anything, family realizes it’s not weird at all. I don’t often talk about the reasons I’m vegan, but it’s simply a preference they respect at this point. They’re staunch conservatives in the south, so even I have been surprised how chill it’s been. -Micah Norman-Pace
  • I try not approaching with judgment, because I did not always understand veganism either. When they ask, I am honest with my beliefs and express my reasons for not supporting animal agriculture. It can require a lot of patience sometimes! -Hannah Milos
  • Share lots of delicious vegan cooking with them — Show them just how easy and yummy it can be! I like to cook and share my food with family. They’re often surprised by how good it is and want to try more! Friends and family may be curious about your vegan lifestyle, but also likely don’t want to be bombarded with pressure or too much information. Some myth-busting can be helpful for common questions, as well as focusing on additional benefits like personal health and the environment. -Sara Beth Olson
  • Over time I’ve come to a place where the simplest explanation is that I love animals, all animals.  And if people could fathom the depth of horror and pain caused to animals then they would understand how someone would want to never be a part of that. -Phil Martens
  • Invite friends/family for a meal. Offer to cook for the people you live with. If people invite you for a meal, offer to bring food/a dish to share. -Nicola Philpott

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