posted January 30, 2024
We know the word vegan conjures up all sorts of imagery for non-vegans, mostly negative. As the joke goes, “How do you know if someone is a vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll let you know.”
So how do we overcome this bad rap and be a likeable vegan?
Step One: Practice What You Preach and Lead by Example
Regardless of the topic, nobody wants to be told what to do. I only wear and use cruelty-free things. My makeup, perfume, beauty products, clothing, purses, wallets, etc. are free from animal testing and animal products such as wool, leather, or down, for example. When somebody compliments me on something, I simply slip in that it is a cruelty-free brand or item.
Step Two: Show That Vegan Food Is Tasty
For Thanksgiving and Christmas with family and friends, I bring vegan dishes. At Christmas, both my sister-in-law and niece thought my seitan looked not only edible but appetizing. They both tried a piece and said, “Not bad.” I shared with them that it is available at regular supermarkets and can be heated up in a few minutes.
More and more restaurants are serving vegan food (see blog post from October 17, 2023). &Pizza (on the East Coast) serves pizza with veggies, as well as vegan cheese and vegan sausage. When dining out with non-vegans, choose a place that has vegan food with non-vegan dishes and again, lead by example without preaching.
Step Three: Wait for the Other Person to Bring Up the Topic of Vegan Things
I wait for a veg-curious person to bring up the topic of veganism. If they do, then I politely let them know some facts. For example, if they inquire if wearing wool is okay, I share that it is not, that wool is not obtained kindly, and the animals are brutalized in the process.
Step Four: Show People That Animals, Including Farmed Animals, Are Sentient
We go to the Tamerlaine Sanctuary & Preserve in Montague, New Jersey, as often as possible, and I post pics on social media for all of my friends, Vegan or not, to see. It shows the gentleness and possible bond one can form with a furry or feathered friend.
Step Five: Remain Quiet Sometimes
I watched somebody who has a pig as an indoor family member eating ham. I know. The age-old debate is how do we get people who love cats and dogs to connect that to cows, chickens, and pigs? One would think this association would be obvious, but it is not. I did not say one word.
It is difficult not to preach. It is hard to watch, smell, or be around so many things we Vegans consider unnecessary or cruel. If we want to get our message across, I believe we must be patient and kind and wait for the opportunity to present itself in a natural context.
Aggressive behavior is a turn-off. We are passionate about our beliefs, but we must wait for others to come to terms with what we know or feel in their own time.
When I go to the gym for my boxing class, somebody will say that they like my pink gloves. I always respond, “Thank you, and they’re not leather, so they’re cruelty-free and cheaper!” Maybe this will go over their head, maybe it won’t, but I have planted another seed.
We must debunk the myths and not personify the negative stereotypes associated with the word vegan and not perpetuate them.
Cherie Hans holds certifications from Dr. McDougall’s Starch Solution and Dr. Campbell’s Plant-Based Nutrition programs. She holds a Master of Science in Bilingual Education from St. John’s University, New York, and a Bachelor of Arts from the City University of NY: Queens College in English and Spanish, and currently teaches adults in English as a Second Language. After graduating from Main Street Vegan Academy, Cherie started the blog Fit and Fifties Vegan. She is from Queens, New York, but now resides in New Jersey with her husband and many rescued cats.