As a vegetarian I had some very interesting experiences with meat eaters, and I have had even more as a new vegan. When I first announced to my mother that I was becoming a vegetarian, it seemed as if she took it as a personal insult. Whenever I'd mention being vegetarian, she'd roll her eyes and sigh loudly. She'd call my soy faux meats "fake food" and make snide little comments. I asked her to stop and eventually she did, so I thought that she would be okay with me going vegan. I assumed wrong. She has started doing those things again, and when I recently asked her to stop she said "I have to get it out of my system". I told her that I made up my mind and no amount of eye rolls is going to change that. I still don't understand why she seems to take my veganism as a personal insult. I love her very much and would never do anything to deliberately hurt her. I guess she just needs time to get used to it.
I just started reading "Vegan Freak" by Bob and Jenna Torres. In the third chapter entitled "Hell is Other People" they give some tips on how to deal with hostile non-vegans. I thought that I would list a few of the best ones here for you.
#1. Don't talk about animal rights over dinner! Doing this makes people both queasy and angry, and that turns them off of your arguments very fast. If someone asks me why I am not eating meat or dairy, I simply tell them that I am a vegan. If they ask me why I'm vegan I'll tell them that it's because I support animal rights and for my health. If they want to know more, I tell them I'll speak to them later.
#2 Don't be pushy. No one likes being made to feel like they are evil. Criticizing people for eating meat and going around with a "meat is murder" shirt will not win many converts (even though it's true). It'll just make people more determined to continue to eat meat.
#3 Turn the other cheek. This is much easier said than done, and I'm definitely guilty of not following this advice at times. However, you should try your best not to get angry with those who try to insult you. Instead, you should "kill them with kindness". People who resort to insults are bullies, and if you respond with anger you are just playing into their hands. However, if you respond in a kind manner, it will take the fun out of goading you and they will stop.
#4 Show people how yummy vegan food is! When I was in nursing school, my entire clinical group would eat together in the hospital cafeteria every day that we had clinical. We also ate together almost everyday that we were in class as well. I was lacto-ovo vegetarian at the time, but I would often get a vegan or near vegan lunch. I was the only vegetarian in the group. I would buy/bring my lunch and simply eat my food without drawing attention to the fact that I didn't have any meat or gelatin on my plate. There were several times that my classmates looked at my food and said "That looks delicious! I wish I had ordered that!" Sometimes the best way to convert someone is to show them that vegans eat more than salad. So invite your friends over to your place for a vegan feast!
That's all for now. Toodles!