Critics are the worst
Being vegan is hard. Yes, making delicious new recipes and feeling so great is amazing. I can even handle the hunger, cravings, and having no idea what to cook. But as soon as people start criticizing my decisions, I get frustrated very quickly. Everyone wants to be accepted, and when people start to discredit your ideas and call you crazy it gets frustrating and painful quickly.
Recently, I was perusing through a plant-based group on Facebook that I follow, and I came across a comment that seems to be a common occurrence: family criticizing lifestyle choices.
I’ve left her name out per her request.
“I need some advice. We recently had family in town, and they kind of started arguing with us about the way we eat. There were holes in their arguments, and I politely pointed some things out. And when I stood up for myself, they moved onto my kids. Two of my kids have chosen not to eat meat. They occasionally have eggs or dairy…very rarely. They told my kids they were missing out on nutrients that they could only get from meat and that it was an important part of their diet.
“My in-laws are good people, and it should be noted that they have a small hobby ranch. They’ve also said they’re too old to change their ways. Are they trying to justify the way they eat? …. Is this diet too extreme? Are we fanatics? How have you dealt with opposition to this way of eating? Have you had doubts about it?”
First of all, I completely feel for this woman. Family can be the worst critics. When I first became vegan, my brothers teased me mercilessly. They did it good-naturedly, but it so often it became annoying and then frustrating. The first week was the worst. They thought this would just be a phase and I would return to my old standard American diet again soon. While I knew they were wrong, it brought some doubt into my mind. It’s never easy being disapproved of.
Here are some ways I have found to help handle the critics. While it will always be hard work to maintain motivation and push off doubts, these ways have helped me get through. I hope they will help you as well.
Surefire ways to handle the critics
- First, keep in mind that the people who may be questioning you have probably lived their whole lives thinking that eating animals is perfectly natural. To them, you are the weird one going against nature, not the other way around. The animal industry has worked really hard for decades to convince the public that protein can only be found in animal products and that milk is the only form of calcium.
- As well, remember that while people may say this is an extreme way to live, getting diabetes and heart problems from food is the real extremity. Obesity is extreme. Remember, eating plant-based foods is the way to health. You won’t have to worry about so many health problems that are diet related. Keeping this perspective helps me keep my convictions.
- You are worth it. You deserve to treat your body with respect. Really, you probably understand your body better than anyone. Stick with what makes you feel healthy.
- Don’t argue. Unless they are honestly trying to understand, don’t give any reason for your lifestyle choice. If you start talking about animal rights, nutrition, or the environment, it will just start an argument with both sides not budging an inch. A heated argument might even cause your critic to have a negative view of vegans for a long time.
- If they are truly interested in learning about this lifestyle, give them a documentary to watch or book to read that helped you. Quoting facts to them probably won’t do much. If anything, share your personal story with them. If you can convince them of the validity of veganism, you won’t have a critic anymore. You’ll have a supporter.
The thing is, even with all these ways to help with the critics, sometimes you’ll just have to tough it out. There will never be a time when everyone agrees with you. You’ll always have someone telling you you’re crazy. What you have to do is realize that they don’t understand as you do. They may not be in a place to accept your lifestyle. But ultimately, THAT’S OKAY. Really, things will work out. Just remember to stay firm in what you believe.
Let me know what other ways you have found to keep the critics at bay (or your emotions).