I've only been vegan since this last summer. I was curious to know what other vegans say/recommend saying when people ask you why you are a vegan. I've been asked by anyone from my boyfriend's mom to a person I just met at a dinner event, and I just struggle with the question because I don't want to get too into it and sound preachy, or make them feel bad. But at the same time I do want to get some sort of simple message across that at least implies that there are so many great and important reasons to be vegan. I'd love to hear some of your guys' ways of handling this question.
I usually tell people it's for ethical, environmental and health resaons and leave it at that unless they press me further. I also tell them that I really love animals and don't agree with the way they are treated, and that I don't feel comfortable contributing to that. I think most people understand deep down that eating animals is cruel, but just don't want to admit it to themselves. Simple answers go a long way, and if they are genuinely interested in learning more about it, I email them articles from people like Dr. McDougall that explain everything way better than I can!
I love Lisa's answer. Short and sweet. I say something similar about how I started this journey for health reasons, but I stick with it for ethical reasons. People seem less threatened when they hear that you did this for your health. I also keep a couple quick fun facts around to quiet anyone who feels the need to pounce on me at the mention of the word vegan. Like the fact that the main protein in dairy has been shown to turn on cancer growth... that if we all ate grains instead of meat, we could easily feed all the hungry people of our world....or that the livestock industry creates more greenhouse gas emissions than all the transport industries combined. Just a couple tidbits like that can help to start people thinking without getting too preachy.
I also love Lisa's answer. I explain to people about how I was always an off and on vegetarian since high school, and have always had an unconditional love for animals. ALL animals. I go on to explain that for ethical, environmental, and health reasons and generally leave it at that, like Lisa. I also am allergic to beef, pork, and am lactose intolerant, but I typically don't like to point that out because I feel like it takes away from the kind message, like people think I only do it because I HAVE to.
I live in Texas, and in my city there is ONE vegetarian restaurant. Needless to say, I get asked about it a lot. I don't know if other people have this issue, but it really bothers me when people say 'I would DIE if I couldn't eat meat.' I just want to say 'Well, I would DIE if I had to.' Instead, I try to find the kindest way to explain. I also suggest documentaries, books, and websites that I know of.
Lately, I haven't really made an effort to share my reasons. Moved to a small town recently, so I say I am vegetarian who doesn't eat meat or dairy since not everyone around here even knows what vegan means. I guess my answer implies that it's just a diet thing so most ppl don't press the issue so I don't even need to explain further.
Keeping it short and sweet is great. I find if they want to know more, I ask them to see one or two documentarys if which got me on the path of wanting to know more. When I see them again and they have watched one or two I always get a response of "I had no idea"
I find that I share my snacks at work as well. For example I brought I kale chips, some people heard what it was and didn't try it, others we very surprised and wanted to get some form themselves. Some of these products are only at one store, so getting them in that store might help. They see things and want to know more. I think that is a big goal of mine, inform others by just giving them enought information and leave them hanging to find out on their own. That's how I got started.
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