Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, it’s highly unlikely that there will be a single day when the world will unanimously decide to ditch their animal consumption and shift to a completely plant-based lifestyle. These kind of radical shifts in thinking and perception take time.
Do I quite literally feel like violently shaking my loved ones until they realize they are eating themselves into an early grave? Yes. Daily. I don’t possess the gift of a highly persuasive tongue and I struggle with finding the balance between shoving information down someone’s throat and holding my tongue completely, both potentially destructive.
An issue I often run into when I approach the subject of nutrition is defensiveness (on both ends). Family members, friends and strangers are quick to jump on the defense when it’s brought up and I am just as quick to jump on the defense in response to their defensiveness which turns into a vicious and unproductive cycle. I’ve come to realize that bringing up nutrition is equivalent to bringing up politics or religion. It spawns debate.
My problem isn’t with people choosing not to live the way I live, it’s that I want so badly to steer them away from an abruptly rude awakening of suffering and disease. One foreign concept I’ve come across is that there are people who seem to have no concern for their personal well-being at all. It’s an apathetic mentality of, “I’m going to die anyway” and “what’s the point of living if I have to give up the things that make me happy” (because apparently bacon is an actual source of happiness and a triple bypass is worth it). However, their apathy does not grant me a free hall-pass to join them in not caring.
I am still learning how to delicately approach the subject without inviting scoffs and argument, and maybe you are too. In the meantime, don’t beat your neighbor up for choosing to have a steak or yell at your relative for being so insensitive to animals’ feelings. Just as you have compassion for those animals, so have compassion on the people who aren’t quite on the same page as you are yet.
I wasn’t always a whole food, plant-based eater, and maybe one day they will see something or hear something that will wake them up too, but that may or may not come from my voice or example and that’s okay. My job is to care, to inform them why I choose to be plant-based and to answer any questions they might have. It is NOT to belittle them, argue with them until we’re both blue in the face or shut them out for not conforming to my life choices.
We are all on our own journey and we all perceive reality a little bit differently. Try not to get discouraged when your brother, best friend or coworker shrug you off and are reluctant or just too plain stubborn to make a single change. They are watching you and they hear you. Speak with kindness and encourage with love. Let them approach change in their own timing.
Eating You Alive Team Member