5 tips for living with non-vegans
What do you think is the hardest part of becoming vegan while living with non-vegans? Is it cooking new meals? Maybe it’s going out to dinner and not having that many options? All of these are strong contenders, but very often, the biggest challenge are the social interactions.
From friends and coworkers to partners and family members, a new vegan can feel like right in the middle of a question hurricane. “How will you get your protein?” “Why would you not eat meat?” “What’s wrong with milk?” “What am I supposed to cook now?” These are just a few.
If you live by yourself or even with other vegans, you can organize your grocery shopping and meal prep so you be certain that you won’t open the fridge and find products that remind you of animal cruelty. But if you are living with non-vegans, it may not be that simple, especially if you depend on them financially.
Why do some people feel so disturbed when we decide to go vegan?
Our customs and habits are precious to us. They’re essential parts of our culture and our day-to-day lives. We share them with our community and talk about them in every casual chat, if we got a sale on a product or if we’re planning to make this amazing recipe we saw online. Every once in a while, we make choices that impact or modify these customs. We may add a different spice to a family recipe or we change brands of a product for different reasons. These changes are small and get lost in the big picture of everyday life.
Becoming vegan means making an important shift outside of our comfort zones. And, the thing is, the reason behind them may be obvious to the person transitioning but not to everyone around them. To the non-vegans living with a vegan, every tiny decision might seem huge and unreasonable. “Why would you change your shampoo brand?” Or “but I bought this for you! Why won’t you eat it? You’re being rude.”
The key is in how we communicate.
Tense situations might arise, but they don’t have to be a source of conflict! There are many ways in which you can improve your in-house relationships. One of them is by using effective communication. Try to explain to those living with you what makes veganism important to you, whether it is the animals, the environment, or your own health.
And don’t forget to listen to them too! Most of the time, they are only saying these things because they care about you or because they are afraid of what this change would mean to their own lives. These people are the closest to you and though it might seem they’re skeptic of veganism, listening to them can make a huge difference. You’ll only be able to relieve their concerns if you understand them first.
5 precious tips for living with non-vegans from Sinergia’s team:
Cook for yourself and for others! Veganize the household’s favorite dishes and prove to your housemates that eating vegan is easy and flavorful. Follow vegan social media accounts for inspiration in the kitchen, try stuff out by yourself, and get creative! Aside from realizing veganism is not a burden, they will also be eating less animals themselves.
Be patient. Seeing someone take on a new lifestyle can be pretty hard to come around. Let them take the time to process and don’t be too pushy. They’ll come around! That leads us to the next tip…
Don’t get angry. Patience isn’t just for when non-vegans forget to stop adding cheese to your pasta dish. It’s not uncommon for new vegans to feel like they have to defend their choices and arguments can get intense easily when debating the topics closest to our hearts, like animal rights! You can prepare yourself for family events with tips for how to deal with your non-vegan family during the holidays.
Take care of yourself. Your loved ones will probably worry about your health the most when transitioning to veganism. Remember that you are making big changes in the way you live your life, so you should acknowledge them and act responsibly. A vegan diet is able to provide everything we need in terms of nutrients (please remember to take vegan B12 supplements), but it is important to remember that in order to be healthy you should have varied and balanced meals, mostly with fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds, and nuts – just like meat eaters, to be honest. If possible, pay a visit to a nutritionist specialized in plant-based diets so you can check everything’s in order and will remain that way! If you are healthy, this will be one less reason for them to argue.
Get informed. This might just be the most important tip we can give you. There are plenty of myths and misconceptions about veganism that might eventually be brought up by your non-vegan friends and family and you’ll need to get informed to debunk them! To help you start out, we gathered a couple of the most common things we hear about being vegan that are just not true.
Myth: “Veganism is not healthy”. Fact: Actually, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has stated that “appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes.” On the other hand, there are many studies pointing out the relation between meat and dairy consumption and an increased risk of several types of cancers and other diseases.
Myth: “You need milk to get calcium”. Fact: Studies have shown that milk isn’t a requirement for people to get calcium and other nutrients, but there are many reasons why we should reconsider if it is healthy at all. Some very good and healthy alternative calcium sources are broccoli, kale, oranges, tofu, chickpeas, and dried fruits like figs and prunes.
Myth: “Being vegan is expensive”. Fact: Just like anything, you can have the expensive or the cheap version. For example, you can create a delicious vegan lentil burger that’s easy, healthy, and low-budget, or you can buy meat substitutes at the store that (although delicious) might make you spend some extra money. You can check out our blog post on how to go vegan on a budget for more wallet-friendly tips.
Myth: “Being vegan is not sustainable if you substitute meat with soy”. Fact: Some people would argue that a plant-based diet endangers the environment because many vegans consume soy products that are linked to monoculture plantations and deforestation. Did you know that 80% of the worldwide soy production is destined for livestock feed? We use 7 kg of grains to produce only 1 kg of beef! A transition towards a vegan lifestyle could mean an important step towards redirecting those grains and using them directly to feed humans, avoiding the large scale and monoculture crops that damage our environment.