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It’s my personal belief that within a few decades from now, lab-grown meat will be standard, we’ll no longer be killing animals for meat, and we’ll look back on factory farming as a barbaric practice of the past. Veganism, it seems to me, is the logical choice given the cruelty of factory farming and the climate crisis that this planet faces. But many still have an automatic revulsion to veganism, and it’s difficult to convince people to change. That’s why I wanted to publish this piece where I’m compiling a list of great arguments on how people can be convinced of the benefits of veganism. I put out this request:
Working on a casual piece about turning to vegan and would like to hear from vegans who were able to convince former meat-eaters to turn vegan, or at least cut back on meat consumption. Personal stories welcome.
What follows is the submissions I’ve received so far. If you’re vegan and trying to convince others of the benefits of veganism, I recommend having a read through some of these responses. You’ll probably find at least one or two points that are very helpful to you. Also, if you have anything to add, please make a submission. 🙂
While I don't believe it's ever possible to force someone to go vegan, I have been able to convince many of my clients and friends and family to adopt a vegan lifestyle in a few different ways. I focus on three main areas:
1) *Ethical *
Most people are unaware of the horrors of factory farming and that we slaughter 70 billion land mammals per year along with three trillion creatures from the sea. Depending on the person I am talking to, I weave this into the conversation.
2) *Environmental *
Oxford University's report by Joseph Poole concluded that the single biggest way you can lower your impact on planet earth is by avoiding meat and dairy. This argument is particularly popular and resonates well with young people in particular who are concerned about animal agriculture's devastating impact on the planet and carbon emissions.
3) *Health *
As a vegan nutritionist, I often focus on the health aspects. Many people are unaware that you can thrive on a plant-based diet and you don't need animal products to be healthy. The evidence that plant-based diets are most protective against chronic disease is very strong, if not overwhelming. I cite examples such as the Blue Zones (see Dan Buettner's work), The China Study and the millions of people who are living on whole foods plant-based diets and thriving without chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, high cholesterol or lifestyle cancers.
A combination of all of these arguments appears to resonate very well. I have had great success leading by example without judgement and showing empathy to those who want to change their lifestyles and live more compassionately.
--Rohini Bajekal, rohinibajekal.com
Vegan experiment: It was January 2, 2018 and my wife and I were a bit hung over watching Netflix. New Year’s Day is a big party day in Philadelphia with the Mummers parade and South Philly is off the charts that evening. So we were just hanging out and my wife was watching a documentary on not eating meat. She glanced at me and said, “Do you want to try to go vegan”. I said ok and we were off to the races. You have to understand that I always ate meat, and lots of it. Sometimes multiple times a day. I always told her that if something did not die for me to be fed, it wasn’t going to taste good. But what the hell, I figured there was no better way to figure out what all the fuss was about so I tried it. We set a 30-day trial period and started being vegan the next day. We eliminated all meats, dairy and eggs from our diet. We ate a lot of whole foods, vegetables and pasta with marinara sauce. Real foods, not seitan or tofu. It was really enjoyable, not at all the horror show I thought it would be. 30 days in and we extended it for another three weeks. I had a physical at work coming up in late February and thought it would be cool to see the results compared against to my previous years. Three weeks later, I went for my physical and the results were amazing. I’ve been slightly overweight for the past 22 years (kids do that to you) about 220-230lbs. Everything else was fine, on average, my overall cholesterol was 188, LDL 128, blood pressure 120/80 and resting heart rate was 70. I know these numbers so well because of 18 years of government physical exams with my job. Well I was shocked when my numbers came back, 204lbs, 130 overall cholesterol, 68 LDL, blood pressure 95/60 and resting heart rate was 55. I still drank alcohol, didn’t work out and I smoked at the time. Nothing changed but my diet. Since then I’ve used these facts to convince other people to give it a try, with great success. People believe it when they hear and see the numbers. I stayed with veganism for a while, and now only occasionally dabble with meat. I’ve resumed eating eggs, fish and some cheeses. It forever changed my relationship with meat. I think anyone who doubts it should give it a try.
This is just my two cents. I am around a lot of different types of Vegans. I own a Vegan soap company and I attend many expos where Veganism is the Celebrated reason for being there.
First I think you need to be careful not to strongly push your views on someone that didn't ask (kinda like religion). This is where some Vegan's make a bad name for the group as a whole. There are many reasons someone many go Vegan. It may be an animal rights issue, health reasons, or an environmental consciousness that brings people to the Vegan table. Whatever the reason there is lots to talk about within all those sub categories to dive into. First you need to know what's important to the person you are talking to (the listener).
It's like any conversation if you don't find material that connects to your listener/audience you'll be dead in the water with them. It's not that they will not appreciate other material but you did not peak there interest. I think it's important to show passion as that typically engages people. This does not mean get loud defensive and over bearing. I don't think shaming people is the way to go (which happens often). Would you want to be part of a group that shames you from the start? The topic of Veganism in my opinion needs to be dealt with in facts, respectful passion, and love.
--Dorrie Patera, Basic Bars Soap
*Lead By Example*
Generally speaking people do not like to be preached to or warned about anything in order to get them to change. If such tactics actually worked there would be no more tobacco smokers! Cigarettes actually have the words …Have been known to cause cancer *on the package* and it doesn't deter people from smoking.
You ever meet a freshly born again Christian or someone who just jumped into the latest multi-level-marketing venture? They're bubbling with excitement and can't wait to help family and friends experience what they have by getting them to go to a meeting or event. What ends up happening is people they know start to distance themselves and keep their conversations or interactions short.
The best way to get anyone *close to you* to make a major change is by having them *witness* improvements in *your own* health and lifestyle. It's human nature for people to want to copy or emulate those who are successful.
A formerly overweight relative who lost a significant amount of weight will be asked over and over *how *they did it. Someone who was struggling working a minimum wage job but now owns their home and is running a business will be *asked* to share their knowledge. A person who had hypertension or was diabetic but no longer is...etc. People will *want to know* their secret. When your life reflects a high level of happiness and fulfillment *people will come to you* to learn how *they* can do it too.
*With Regard to Dating and Relationships*
There is no amount of work or communication which can overcome being with someone who does *not *want what you want. Most people don't change unless *they* are unhappy. Our only real options are to accept them (as is) or move on. The vast majority of people want to be loved and appreciated for who *they* are.
Life is too short to be trying to change water into wine. The goal is to find someone who *already is* what you want. Each of us gets to *choose* who we will spend our time with. No one is stuck with anyone! Suffering is optional.
--Kevin Darné, lovealert911.com
I have learned the most important thing when trying to help someone change is not to try to convince them of anything, but to provide them with information so they can make their own decisions.
In regards to helping others try the vegan way of eating, I have discovered that people are afraid of things being taken away from them, so if you gently suggest they try a few meatless meals, and learn how to prepare more fruits, vegetables and grains, they can ease into the wonderful world of plant based eating.
Politely offering facts about the benefits of fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts and legumes in helping to reverse type 2 diabetes, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and lessen the risk of heart attack and stroke is a positive way to motivate people to eat more of these high quality whole foods.
I have many friends, family and clients that are now eating less meat and more plant foods based on my enthusiasm and influence about healthy living. I provide them with recipes and cook plant based meals for them to try.
Remember, no one likes to be told what to do, and people like to make up their own minds, but if they feel you are simply trying to provide them with information to improve their health, and they watch you make positive changes, they are more likely to listen.
--Lynell Ross, Zivadream
As a vegan for many years myself, there are a few ways you can help convince your friends and family to become vegan. Since it's one of those choices that some people can take personally, it's best to figure out the best approach. Some people become vegans for health reasons, some because they dislike cruelty to animals, and for others, environmental sustainability is the priority.
For me personally, I like to explain my personal reasons as to why I became vegan over 5 years ago. Basically it comes down to scientific facts and the damage that intensive livestock farming does to the environment. The meat industry, especially the ones that employ CAFO operations, make up 50% of all man-made greenhouse gases on the planet.
Whereas a vegan or vegetarian's carbon footprint is at least half less than the average person who consumes meat regularly. Just to put it in perspective, a kilo of red meat takes about 27 kilos of C02 to produce. So if you multiply this number globally, it's an incredible quantity of carbon dioxide being produced simply by the sheer amount of cows in the world.
So for me, the numbers were convincing enough to understand the environmental cost of eating a burger. A good movie that explains this in layman's terms is *Cowspiracy*, which does a good job of illustrating exactly how this happens, and it's not rocket science. In fact, if you can get your friends and family to sit down and watch the entire documentary, it will take a lot less effort to convince them to become vegan afterward!
Aside from carbon pollution, livestock farming produces also run-offs that enter the streams and rivers, filling them with toxins, contaminating the water. In other words, by becoming vegan, you can avoid polluting both our planet's air and water supplies. The more people become vegan, the less demand for livestock farms, which can only benefit the planet as the global population grows every year.
One last thing, you can always present vegan versions of family favorites such as burgers, chicken nuggets, and hot dogs. The plant-based meat industry has developed over the years and your new vegan converts can be assured that they can still get their junk food fix, completely plant-based!
Brands such as Gardein and Impossible Foods are making just about every type of meat that taste almost identical to real meat, including the texture. The same goes for pizza since companies such as Daiya in Canada make frozen-pizzas that use their patented melting vegan cheese. If you didn't tell people that these were entirely vegan, they might not even know the difference. So in other words, becoming vegan doesn't mean eating strictly vegetables and beans!
--Casper Ohm, Water Pollution Institute
There are 3 ways to start the first conversation about going vegan or eating plant-based. 3 ways because you can start your journey due to health reasons or due to environmental reasons or to protect the animals and live cruelty-free. Before you try to convince anybody to go vegan, you should know what that person is mostly interested in and which category they might fall into. As your approach and your reasoning should be completely different.
We started our journey for health reasons. After watching “Forks over Knives” and “What the Health” and reading about the health benefits of a plant-based diet, we started to include plant-based dishes in our everyday life up to the point that it became the primary way for us to eat. When our family and friends asked about or why we showed them these documentaries. They are so powerful even with all the critics that FOK managed to convince a one of our married friends (both doctors) to start eating plant-based too.
--Emese and Nandor, My Pure Plants
I used to think veganism was wrong and that I could never give up meat and dairy. Six years ago, I watched Earthlings, and my worldview changed. I made the decision to become an ethical vegan and I only wish I had done that sooner. I think a lot of people will eventually feel like me and one of my goals in life is to inform others about how easy it is to be vegan and why it’s worthwhile and important.
I try to approach meat intake reduction in a non-threatening way, suggesting baby steps and then expanding from there.
Typically I post vegan food on my social media every Monday and tag it #MeatlessMonday, with a brief explanation for why eating meatless even just one day of the week can reduce the strain of meat on the environment, on our health, and why it's the more compassionate choice. I don't want people to think of veganism as deprivation, so I make sure the photos I share aren't just of salads, but also veganized pizzas, cakes, etc. Doing this consistently tends to normalize going meat-free once a week, and because it's a small enough change, I noticed lots of people started picking up on it and doing it too.
Once I have my “foot in the door” by leading people to reduce their meat consumption a bit, then I gently encourage even more reduction in meat intake by sharing simple facts about what animal agriculture is like for the animals, the environment, and our health.
Finally, I encourage people to watch some key movies! The Game Changers for a health focus, Cowspiracy for an environmental focus, and Dominion/Earthlings/Okja are all great for an ethical focus.
In this steady, dedicated way, I've managed to encourage several friends and family to reduce their meat intake. I even encouraged a couple people into veganism – with more hopefully on the way!
--Patricia Celan, LinkedIn profile
I went vegan over two years ago and over the past year, I have become passionate about sharing recipes and tips with others through my blog.
When I first went vegan I only knew one other person who was vegan. My family members and my boyfriend were all meat eaters, so they were shocked when I made the switch.
Since then, my boyfriend has become vegetarian and he barely consumes any animal products (just occasionally some dairy). He made the switch after I encouraged him to learn more about veganism. In particular, I introduced him to a few great documentaries (Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy, What the Health) that discuss the health benefits of eliminating animal products, as well as the cruelty involved in animal agriculture. I also took him to some great vegan restaurants to show him how delicious vegan food can be! Some people think that vegan food is just plain fruits and vegetables, but the options are really endless! I specifically took my boyfriend to a restaurant with great vegan burgers because that was one of his favourite meals and I wanted to show him that he could still have burgers.
It's also important to note that I never pushed him too hard towards becoming vegan or got angry with him for eating animal products. I approached it in a way of teaching him and letting him decide what he wanted to do with what he learned. It takes time for someone to make such a big change in their life and being aggressive often pushes people farther away from wanting to be vegan.
Over the past couple of years, I've also convinced my parents to watch some of the documentaries about veganism and a plant-based diet. They still eat meat, but they are definitely more open to eating vegan meals sometimes and they have cut back on how much meat they eat.
To summarize, I have found that the most effective ways of getting meat-eaters to cut back on animal products is to introduce them to delicious vegan meals to show them that they can still enjoy vegan versions of their favourite foods, and show them documentaries regarding health benefits, environmental issues, and animal cruelty.
--Bree Sheree, Bree's Vegan Life
I’m writing to you from the perspective of a person who has been entirely vegan for over two years. My partner has eaten a vegan diet for 26 years and our two boys are both vegan (ages 5 and 9). Upon merging households, I chose to turn vegan for family ease as well as a myriad of other benefits. I was also the primary dinner chef in the house for 1.5 years and preparing vegan and non-vegan food is too much of a bother. Now we’re building a new business called Your Vegan Family.
I grew up in rural Washington State eating meat (mostly beef) every night at dinner. This was usually meat from the calf, born to our cow the year before. I was friends with those calves and when Would come home from school to find them in the freezer, I felt quite an emotional dilemma. When I went to college I spent several summers as commercial salmon fisher woman in Bristol Bay Alaska and so my diet pushed beef to the side and moved more towards fish and chicken. With the next 25 years in private practice as an acupuncturist, nutrition advisor, and yoga teacher I studied numerous dietary programs and experimented with most of them. Over time I moved away from any kind of meat. I cooked it if my daughter wanted it, but it became less and less appealing to me. Butter and dairy remained a part of my diet, especially baking. I have friends who are vegan and I enjoy expanding my culinary repertoire to prepare meals for them.
Having been raised on a tiny farm and commercial fished, I knew first hand the reality of killing an animal to eat it, and it was never easy to do. Clear motivation for me to go vegan.
Being a health practitioner and having an inner drive to feel optimally healthy, vegan was an easy choice. I’d juiced vegetable for years and enjoyed morning smoothies. I also had a great garden and grew fruits and vegetables. So long as I minded my protein intake, I didn’t crave animal products andI felt great!
I researched to understand more about how environmentally damaging commercial animal farming is. Again, easy to choose vegans.
I love to explore world cuisine and cooking for my 100% vegan family made for a fun challenge. Because of the variations in ethnic foods, vegan foods didn’t feel limiting in any way. It felt much like cooking Indian food for a few weeks, or diving into Chinese food. The challenge to convert world cuisine into a vegan version is a puzzle I enjoy, hence our new family business. Luckily our boys are adventurous eaters too.
Overall, it was a slow, natural change that became complete and final after moving in with my vegan partner.
--Stacy Naugle, Your Vegan Family
I have been a vegetarian for 11 years and a vegan for six years. Two years ago I convinced my dad to go vegan when he was training for an Iron Man. He watched the documentary From the Ground Up which talks about eating vegan as an athlete. He ended up getting in a bicycle accident one month before the Iron Man, so he wasn't able to compete. He decided to do an Iron Man again the following year, but he didn't follow a vegan diet this time. He said that he felt so much better and healthier training as a vegan than as a meat-eater. He decided to go vegan again after learning about the fishing industries in the documentary Watson and the shows Whale Wars and Ocean Warriors. He also watched the documentary Game Changers which also discusses eating vegan as an athlete.
--Haley Gallerani, The Vegan Abroad
It's undeniable that the products in our homes have a serious impact on our bodies and environment.
Consider that every year in the US, over 100 million animals are burned, crippled, poisoned, and abused in labs for testing ingredients in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and other applications. And for what, when it is reported by PETA that 92% of the experimental drugs deemed effective for the animals tested fail in human clinical trials because they do not work or are too dangerous. This is just one reason why as a home & personal care brand, we feel it’s vital to take a stance in the marketplace against animal testing and animal-derived ingredients in an industry that is guilty of demanding it.
Whether you seek to live a healthier lifestyle, protect the environment, or simply to protect the animals, know that choosing vegan makes a positive impact on the world around you. And when consumers and businesses say no to products and foods containing animal derivatives, we create systematic change due to a decreased demand for these practices.
--The Sea Witches, Sea Witch Botanicals
Veganism as a concept and a label was so alien within the culture I grew up in, even though unbeknownst to a lot of people, a lot of the foods in the Creole culture (in the Seychelles where I'm from) are naturally vegan. It was only through travelling the world that I discovered the food waste and massive negative effects on the environment that were caused by the meat, dairy and fashion industries. And then this is turn led me to asking questions, about the world and veganism at home.
This was what awoke my mind to the need to live intentionally. I studied in London for three years and I saw the vapid unawareness of many people in our modern society to anything that isn't a part of their little bubble. Now, I still incorporate many aspects of the vegan lifestyle into mine and my families life, with other parts being very conscious and sustainable in our consumption.
I think it's difficult to start these conversations when people aren't consciously choosing to see the world around them and ask questions about where their foods are coming from. But by being open to having conversations and offering people the chance to try something new, like a new vegan restaurant, product or recipe, is the way to get people's minds to open. While still respecting that everyone's opinions, cultures and preferences are different and the conversations should be done in a peaceful manner. That's what I try to do with my blog, simply sharing another human experience, giving people the chance to see how someone else chooses to live their life, might inspire them to try something new, which will have a massive impact on the world.
--Vadrine Boulle, Vanilla Vadz
Going vegetarian is the first step to becoming vegan. However many vegetarians don't take the extra step and believe that what they do helps our planet and society. There are several things people need to realize if they want to live in an ethical and environmentally-friendly way.
Eating less meat and being a vegetarian isn't enough.
The suffering caused by the dairy and egg industry is possibly less well-publicized than the plight of factory-farmed animals. The production of dairy products necessitates the death of countless male calves that are of no use to the dairy farmer, as well as the premature death of cows slaughtered when their milk production decreases. Similarly, in the egg industry, even 'ethical' or 'free range' eggs involve the killing of the 'unnecessary' male chicks when just a day old.
Ethical meat is not a thing.
It's tempting to want to believe that the meat we eat is ethical, that our 'food animals' have lived full, happy lives and that they have experienced no pain or fear at the slaughterhouse. Yet the sad truth is that all living creatures (even those labelled 'free range' or 'organic') fear death, just as we do. No matter how they are treated when alive, they all experience the same fear when it comes to slaughter.
We have to take action into our own hands.
The good news is there IS something we can do about it. Every time we shop or order food in a restaurant - every time we eat - we can choose to help these animals. Every time we make the switch from an animal product to a vegan one we are standing up for farmed animals everywhere.
Going vegan is easier than ever before with veganism becoming increasingly mainstream as more and more people from all walks of life discover the benefits of living this way.
--Vanessa Wilson, exceltemplate.net
From 8+ years of all kinds of vegan activism, I believe that the best way is to lead by example and inspire. Only give people the information if they enquire about it - and that enquiry can be sparked by you being a good representation of vegan lifestyle. If you don't give a good first impression, then whatever you say after will not matter much and will land on deaf ears. Being role models (or close to, as perfectionism isn't a good trait either) helps a great deal in disarming many cognitive biases that block good information from registering with people - like confirmation bias, loss aversion (it's harder to give up cheese or meat you already have even if the result is a healthier life - but in the future), habitution - to name just a few. Human arsenal of such fallacies and biases is vast and no amount of good arguments will get through it if we are forceful, trying to guilt-trip or blame.
But if we give people the room to observe us and realise that "hey, he/she eats plants only and seems in good health and seems a reasonable person, there might be something to what they say" - is what is going to create a lasting change. If you make someone listen to you, you will either achieve the oposite (they will feel pressured and run away) or they will lapse quickly - beause it's not a decision they see as their own.
It also helps remembering, that everything takes time. Especially social change and change of habits engraved deeply in us since childhood. Some people will only see the reason, after they see many others doing it. Or, better put, they will not see reason, they'll just follow the rest (herd mentality). Do whatever you can to influence a big chunk of people around you (not just consumers, but businesses, organisations too) and they will pull the rest for you.
I write more about overall life, philosophy and a balanced life on sensimism.com and about veganism on veganstvo.org (Slovak only).
--Lukas Cech, SENSIMISM
I would also like to highlight 34 Vegan Statistics to Help You Be Kind to Every Kind.