Read our positively upbeat personal stories explaining how we’ve supported our friends to go vegan, and get some advice on doing the same.
There are few feelings that are better than one of your friends announcing that they’re going vegan. This is partly because we may have played a part in their making such a positive decision – it reminds us that each of us is instrumental in growing the vegan movement. Whether you stay up late with your friends having philosophical debates about animal rights and applied ethics, or you share the message by wearing a vegan T-shirt, there’s no best way to help other people make the connection. Anything which opens another person’s eyes to the possibility of going vegan is a good thing.
As veganism is such a big part of my life, sometimes I worry that my friends see me as ‘the vegan one’. Despite the fact that veganism is hugely important to me, for this reason I sometimes find myself staying quiet. I’m sure there are many people out there who feel similarly – nothing would make us happier than our friends going vegan, but we can be hesitant to share our views with them due to stereotypes of the ‘preachy vegan’. If this resonates with you, here are some tips to boost your confidence, as well as ideas about how to encourage your friends to go vegan.
“When I was a student I was involved with Glasgow Uni Vegan Society. I was helping to run an outreach stall at the freshers’ fair, which is where I met Ali, who was looking for a Vegetarian Society to join. I gave her some info on why veganism is the next step, including my spiel about how dairy cheese is addictive. After taking my advice to ‘just go for it’, Ali’s still vegan today, and is now my colleague as well as my friend. Recently Ali and I had joint veganniversaries – her five-year and my ten-year.”
Alex Douglas, Volunteering and Engagement Manager at The Vegan Society
1) Be honest about why you went vegan
This might sound obvious to some, but this is something I struggled with when I first went vegan. I was inwardly very proud of myself, and confident in my decision – but I was hesitant to share this with others for fear of them responding defensively. While this can happen, there are ways that you can be truthful without being perceived as aggressive. It helps to focus on yourself and your beliefs – you could say “I don’t want to harm animals,” or “I watched a video which showed me the truth about the dairy industry.” Remind whoever you’re talking to that you were once in their position. This will help them to see that it’s possible to go from their state of mind to yours – the evidence is standing in front of them!
“One day my friend Emma confronted us about veganism: don’t vegans get sick? Don’t you care about people dying in other countries? And so on. The amusing thing about the situation was that all of her questions were actually ‘bingo!’ responses for Defensive Omnivore Bingo. While refuting them we showed her the bingo sheet, which allowed her to see the funny side of what she was saying. From this she realised that her arguments were rooted in ingrained societal prejudices and not in fact, so she decided to go vegan on the spot. Now we visit vegan eateries everywhere together.”
Ali Ryland, Web and Digital Communications Officer
2) Be compassionate
As veganism is all about compassion, this should be a breeze. While some people respond instantly to hard facts and logic, this definitely isn’t the case for everyone. It takes time for some people to go vegan or even to understand vegan arguments. We’ve been raised in a society which tells us that it’s OK to use animals. That kind of ingrained message often doesn’t disappear overnight, and usually people need repeated exposure to these arguments before they accept them and apply them to their own lives.
While it can be frustrating, we need to accept that our friends won’t all go vegan instantly, or that they may give it a go but fall off the wagon later on. We’ll be making the best possible impact if we can be there to help them back on, and to continue be a good example of a vegan who loves being vegan.
“My friend said that she’d like to learn how to cook vegan, if only tofu wasn’t so boring. The next day I said she could have some of my leftover cheesecake. She raved about how good it was and I laughed and said I’d made it with tofu! After this she said she’d sign up for Veganuary and she hasn’t looked back.”
Sally Murray-Fella, Business Development Assistant
3) Give them the tools they need
Often the reason that people aren’t vegan isn’t due to lack of caring, but lack of knowledge. People are still surprised to hear about the realities of animal product industries. You can be the person to share this information, and to arm your friends with the information they need to make the right decision.
Share the facts and statistics which affected you most on your vegan journey. Direct your friends to the videos which helped you to make the connection. Recommend the documentaries which opened your eyes. Share the simple vegan recipes and accessible products which made it easy for you to make the transition.
It’s also a great idea to take your friends along to a vegan event. You can gorge on amazing vegan food, while introducing them to a vibrant community they will want to be a part of. Loads of people who attend vegan events aren’t vegan yet, but are simply curious – so they should feel right at home, and come away with the information they need.
4) Share our Vegan Pledge with the non-vegans in your life
Encourage your friends to take the 30 day Vegan Pledge, which helps over 80% of people who complete the month stay vegan afterwards. These daily emails are packed full of advice from where to shop and what plant milk to use in coffee. It's always a good idea to share content from our Facebook and Twitter pages, which demonstrates how fun and simple it is to go vegan.
Good luck, and thank you! You're making the world a little more vegan with every campaign you share or vegan t-shirt you wear.
By Elena Orde
The views expressed by our bloggers are not necessarily the views of The Vegan Society.