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Colorado Springs Vegan Events Message Board › How to approach the "touchy subject"

How to approach the "touchy subject"

Shannon
Plant_Strong
Kaiserslautern, DE
Post #: 41
Question... with friends and family fighting cancer or having fought cancer, how do you present the material, the facts, (like those found in The China Study or the movie "Eating") to them without them taking offense or getting defensive. My husband says it's because they see you as promoting something that's better than what they are doing. How can the subject (of a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle to help fight cancer, or raising awareness to the horrors of the meat/dairy industry and the impact on our environment, etc.) be approached without making them defensive? I also realize I need to watch how I present the material. I guess it's the passion coming out on both sides. The only thing I can think of is to create a mini library of all these great books and documentary's and start loaning them out.


Question #2....we are traveling to Arkansas to visit my husband's family. My Mother-In-Law is good about taking into consideration our family's vegetarian lifestyle but now that I'm trying hard to go vegan, well I don't want to overwhelm her with the issue of food. For a meat eater to try and figure out a vegan menu for one person seems overwhelming when she'll already be taking into consideration a vegetarian menu for our girls and then meat dishes for the rest of the family visiting. So is it rude to pack my own food and food for the girls - to help take some of the pressure off her? Do any of you have similar issues and how do you handle it? Any suggestions?

Lastly, here's an issue that some of you might relate to...It's hard when people feeling sorry for my husband because of my lifestyle choice. They often feel compelled to give him a "meat fix". I don't want him to feel pressure to eat it either. All these books and recent movies are having a positive impact on him and he is wonderful at supporting my lifestyle and a vegetarian/vegan household.
Lisa
user 7165713
Colorado Springs, CO
Post #: 73
Questions # 1: That's a hard one. I have come to figure that it's best if you can buy them a book or dvd's that they will watch. In fact for Christmas I am getting some people vegetarian/vegan cookbook's or veg related books. Most people want to be healthy and add more veg dishes in their diet even if they are not vegetarian. I struggle too not telling friends/family all the veg info I know. It's hard when they bring up the topic and then you really have to watch what you say.

Question # 2: When we went to visit Steve's mom we e-mailed her recipes on things we can eat before we traveled. And then we volunteered to cook at her house. It worked out really well and she learned that vegan meals are not all that bad. But it may be more difficult to do that with a large family gathering.

Yeah my dad always giving Steve a hard time and says let's go out for a steak. It's become a running joke that poor Steve doesn't get to eat meat. Even though he does not miss it or even want it. We need more veg men that make a stand so it does not appear so un- masculine.
Jay T.
user 8858691
Colorado Springs, CO
Post #: 3
New to vegetarianism (not there yet) but still had couple thoughts. People may actually believe your husband is depriving himself and see it as being kind by offering him a "meat fix." Or, and maybe less likely, I sometimes wonder if it's because some people may feel a little bit of guilt themselves about eating meat, even subconsciously, and it makes them more comfortable to have others do it with them, just a theory. I would just politely decline, without getting into trying to justifying it, unless they ask. Or, he could always scream, "Back off, Carnivores!" Now that would make for a lively Thanksgiving! lol.
About mother-in-law issue, just showing up at her doorstep with your own food may seem a bit presumptuous or rude to her, even though that's the opposite of your intentions. Maybe talk to her beforehand and explain why you may bring some of your own food and stress the point of wanting to take the pressure off her, she may actually appreciate it. Have fun in Arkansas!
Shannon
Plant_Strong
Kaiserslautern, DE
Post #: 42
Thanks! Great suggestions and thanks for the laugh biggrin
Elizabeth
user 8091234
Colorado Springs, CO
Post #: 42
Talk to her beforehand, let her know that for various reasons you are leaning more towards veganism than lacto-ovo-ism. Let her know that you appreciate how much she has gone out of her way to accomadate your dietary decisions in the past. But, because this is a lot more difficult to accomadate you don't want her to have to or think that she needs to. So, you would like to bring some food/go shopping there and help her with any cooking that goes on while you are there. Maybe offer to make a vegan meal for everyone! Make sure you emphasize that you appreciate all she has done in the past and just let her know you don't want her to think she needs to scramble and figure something out. Hope you have fun!
About the "meat-fix", that is just almost bizarre... Maybe just with any given couple or person that it comes up with, let them know that he doesn't feel deprived and that he has chosen to consume very few animal products for whatever his reasons are. You both appreciate them trying to help him, but it isn't anything he really needs help with.
whew, my sweetie was vegan when I found him. It eliminates SO many problems!
Happy tofurkey day!
A former member
Post #: 12
My husband & I were introduced to the "Eating" DVD in September and is what has convinced us to go from being vegetarians to leaning more towards veganism. I plan on taking the DVD to my parents' house (in Ohio) when we visit at Christmas & having them watch it. I will probably skip the segment on the treatment of animals because that part makes me cry and they already know a lot of that. I plan on introducing the movie to them by telling them that this movie is why my husband & I are trying to eat more vegan and that watching the movie would explain it better than us trying to explain it to them. Hopefully it will come across more as us sharing OUR reasons for our change in diet and not us trying to force them to become more vegan.

My parents have gotten used to cooking vegetarian meals for us when we visit, but the in-laws have a more difficult time and usually just take us out to eat or we do homemade pizzas. Still, even my parents struggle at times to figure out what to cook, so I decided to start a food blog this fall so they can see what we're cooking & what things we like. I named it a food & travel blog so they could also read about trips we go on, so it's not just forcing vegetarian/vegan food on them. My hope is that they'll see some yummy things that we cook & either cook it for themselves or at least make it for us when we visit.
Shannon
Plant_Strong
Kaiserslautern, DE
Post #: 43
Great suggestions and ways to approach the subject(s) Eliza and Jelena! It's so true about explaining why you personally are making the change. At that point it's either end of subject, the person truly wants to learn more, or you end up in some kind of debate. I realize it's not the way of life for everyone. If one is struggling with various health issues then it's usually my first reaction to offer advice and want them to at least consider a plant based diet. I agree that maybe I'm not the best person to present the facts but rather a well written book or good documentary would be better (if they are open to it).

A blog for friends and family is a great idea Jelena. I can post our meals, nutritional values, etc. and let that do the talking! smile
A former member
Post #: 3
hi shannon. you've already had some great responses, but thought i'd add my 2cents too smile
we've been veg for almost 17 yrs, my husband vegan for 9, and i've been close to vegan for about 3 years so we've been through a lot as far as people's questions, holidays, visiting, etc. i think the main thing you can do is be a positive example by what you do - showing how you eat healthy, enjoyable foods and aren't deprived at all. your reasons may come out in conversation, or they may not. we've found that people seemed to feel defensive merely by seeing that we are different! of course, that would never be our intention, but our choices also point out to others what they are doing, and they may not feel comfortable if they think they eat or do something we don't agree with. you just have to be patient answering the same questions over and over and also know that you may be affecting people in a positive way and not even know it. one of my husband's former coworkers used to kind of razz him for being vegan, but that guy ended up becoming a vegan himself eventually!
that is nice that your mother-in-law is willing to try and accommodate you, but i would do as others suggested: offer to make/bring food that you would like, emphasizing that you appreciate her consideration and would like to help. i have never had a problem visiting people and showing up with a few groceries, or stopping by a market once i'm there. i have also been known to travel with recipes and enjoy sharing vegan recipes that are delicious for everyone. give your family and friends time to adjust to your choices, they will, and soon you and they won't even have to think twice about it.
i hope you have a great thanksgiving! ~gail
A former member
Post #: 32
1. I personally tell my guests that this is a mostly veg household (my husband is a meat-eater) and that they are NOT welcome to dishonor the majority of the household (and especially my girls) by bringing a dead animal to the dinner table. But that if the man of the house chooses to make something for his guests in the meat department then that is his choice. He couldn't care less about turkey so he has decided to make a roast in the crock-pot for his one meat eating guest and made sure it would not be in my way while I was preparing everything else. So of course if you were to have prohibited your guests from bringing their own meat then I would have supported you but that is for sure a personal choice between you and your spouse. I personally do not want anyone to bring anything, I love to cook for others and it also insures that it is all to my families likely without having to have any conversations over the food and that way we can just converse about everything else interesting in the world. If they are not agreeable to that then I do not care to have them around ruining my children's holiday and therefore they do not have to attend. (I am pretty much a hardnose about my beliefs). I definitely do not use holidays to promote any thing controversial that could create adverse memories in my childrens' minds around those calendar dates. My father-in-law can argue over anything at the drop of a hat so we just let that sleeping dog lie. :)

A good friend of mine once said about their Christian philosophy that "instead of trying to tell someone the way, show by expample and always be available for questions and guidance if asked". I have always done so with my veg philosophy as well by letting them know my feelings about it "for me" (if they ask) without sounding preachy or judgemental and 9 times out of 10 they come to me at a later date and want to know more and then I have those books and vidoes ready in a jiffy. I do however have to speak up when they start getting to graphic about hunting or something like that and politely ask them to please change the subject. If they start trying to convince me that it is for the "good of the herd" or that is what God made them for or something ridiculous like that then I start trying to convince them that killing children is okay (since the human population needs to have the "herd thinned") or something equally stupid and offensive to them and they usually quit trying to argue with me once they realize that I take it as seriously as they would about not killing a child. It is a pretty harsh comparison but it is very effective at showing them how passionate I am about not harming animals (as they are innocents just like children).

2. It is completely approrpriate for you to prepare items for your family when staying with others if you have "special" requirements and it should not be construed as offensive that you are not expecting them to cater to you. It should be appreciated that you are considerate enough to help make the whole event meaningful for everyone, not just the meat eaters. I know not everyone is as "enlightened" as us veggies (haha) but if it is presented correctly, I really feel it could be spun in such a way as to be positive and appreciated by your in-laws.

3. My husband's friends do the same thing and I simply say "Oh thank you for feeding my man some poor dead animal pumped up on hormones and antibiotics, we wouldn't want him getting to healthy to be around to see his grandkids". That usually shuts them up, even if it is only because they think I am actually the one being rude. (As I said, I am a hardnose especially when someone is being obnoxious and rude about it - I mean really, we are talking about death here, not food or nutrition. - I am a little fiesty)

Just do what you feel is right for you and that is really all that can be done. I used to have a friend that was organic and another friend that was vegan and I thought they were both picky pain in the butts until my eyes were opened and now I appreciate that they were only picky about their paths and let me find my own (and I am thankful for the exposure they gave me that steered me this way without the "hard sale" approach.) Good luck on your choices.
Shannon
Plant_Strong
Kaiserslautern, DE
Post #: 45
Thanks for the reply's Gail and Collette! Patience is definitely the key word! Gail, your reply made me think that as a vegetarian for thirteen years it should come as no surprise to people, who know me well, that I'm embracing the vegan lifestyle (I'm guessing the same applied to you and your husband). As a military family, who moves every three years, we end up doing a lot of explaining as we meet new friends, neighbors, etc. I guess we need to look at that as an opportunity to positively affect others.
Thanksgiving went really well. Our vegan dishes were delicious and my family, who brought turkey, did so very discretely. They even enjoyed tasting our "Tofurkey".
Our trip to Arkansas is coming up and thanks to all your great responses I think I know what I need to do to ensure it will be a non-issue.
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