This post is an offshoot of another topic I penned last year (how to handle your non-vegan family) and while there maybe some similarities in situations, we know that we are a little bit more careful dealing with friends, but that’s just me. My family is mostly plant-based, a couple of them also vegans so dealing with my immediate loved ones is quite a walk in the park. But friends, it’s a different ballgame. I have no vegan friends, none that I know of. Some were curious and attempted to try in the past but failed. Well, it’s a journey as I always say (read my vegan journey).
Treat your friends no differently. Your way of eating, ethos, lifestyle may have changed since becoming vegan but it does not grant you any form of entitlement. People don’t want to be told, it’s human nature. Reminisce fun times, laugh at each other’s foolishness (then and now), update each other work-wise, family-wise, your new hobbies.
Host a lunch/ afternoon tea/ dinner. Instead of eating out, try hosting a mini get-together at your home and serve them your bestseller homemade vegan dish. Veggie chili is always a hit. Vegan tacos are super easy to make. This power bowl requires no cooking and can pass for a dessert! This simple tip is one good way to introduce palatable plant-based dish to your friends. Vegan food isn’t always salad with boring dressing. Don’t know how to cook? there are tons of recipes online, check out mine!
When dining out, choose a restaurant that has vegan options. With the rising vegan demographics, you’d be surprised to know that there are a lot of restaurants now that serve vegan. Use Happy Cow app to find one near you or better yet, call the restaurant in advance and ask. Most Asian and Italian restaurants have accidentally vegan in their menu. Don’t be intimidated to ask the waiter to replace certain ingredients. For example, request for vegetable broth and replace meat with vegetables for pho or ramen. Order mushroom linguini or roast vegetable salad (read how to dine as vegan). I can go on and on but the main point is, you don’t want to alienate your friends or vise versa. But see, the way to handle it is case to case because if it’s your true friend, alienation or taking offense should not even be the case.
Inform don’t preach. Veganism is not about perfection but our sincerest desire to avoid all forms of cruelty to all earthlings. Be the voice of reason, not anger. I tell you one example. I have a friend from many many moons ago who happened to visit Hawai’i. She told me that she was quite hesitant meeting me because I am vegan and she’s not (she told me this over dinner in between all the laughters reminiscing our teenage years). She then said that I am still the good old friend she fondly remembers, funny and down to earth. Then she followed with “I like that you inform me and not scold about my way of eating”. And with that she meant, me sharing my success story and how a healthy plant-based vegan lifestyle improved my health overall. So my point is, just be the messenger of an important message. It is your friend’s life, not yours.
No man is an island, then move to another island. Figuratively. I have some so-called friends who stopped communicating with me just because of my lifestyle. This I say, good riddance! You don’t need that kind of drama. Winner of shallow award, bye Felicia! In need of support group? Albeit virtual, join some Facebook groups that support your lifestyle and way of eating. Fork Over Knives is a good starting point. The members there are non-judgemental and very supportive to new vegans and/or plant-based. I must tell you though that I joined and left plenty of vegan Facebook groups because (1) Some can be really vile. You share an opinion, it’s either you are regarded as idiot by the know-it-all or you’re arrogant because you are sharing your story. It’s a no win on both sides (2) And hostile. This mama has no time for that. If I were you, follow medical doctors who support vegan and whole food plant-based for true medical information backed up by clinical studies (if health is your main concern). Top of mind include Dr. Garth Davis (weight loss surgeon and triathlete), Dr. Greger (founder of nutritionfacts.org), Dr. Neal Barnard (founding president of Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine), Dr. Esselstyn (world renowned cardiovascular surgeon), and many more that I personally follow on Instagram. And last but not the least, find a vegan group in your city: birds of the same feather, flock together.
Ha, this shirt made sense after all: You can’t make everyone happy. You’re not an avocado.
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