It can be tough to live a vegan lifestyle; watching everyone around you become sick because of what they are eating but being unwilling to change for their health, the contradictions of people who are so upset about a cat who was abused or a barn fire that kills 40 cows but then they go home and eat their beefy burger or some other carcass. Then there are the environmental “activists” that speak on the pollution of transportation and factories but ignore the fact that factory farms are the primary source of methane emissions, deforestation, water pollution, and so on.
How frustrating it is to listen to these people complain about their health or become passionate about a world issue and only touch on a very very small part of it.. and when you try to provide friendly information in a non-threatening, approachable manner and the door is slammed on your face regarding those topics – it’s no wonder activists experience burn out.
There are ways to affect others without having to go through all of that.
1. Set a great example!
This one is by far the easiest way to influence people around you. If you are a beacon of shining health and fitness, you have amazing colorful appetizing food, and are friendly and open to questions then you will go far.
This is something that I am personally having success with, especially at work. The store I work in is very small, and when I heat up my food (double baked potatoes, masala wraps, rice dishes, etc) in the microwave the fragrant scent wafts through the entire store. As I sit there eating my lunch I can hear customers and coworkers alike discussing how great my food smells. Several coworkers have been drawn to the lunch room to see what it is that I am eating and if they can try some, too! They see that I am healthy and have the energy to get the tasks at hand done, and they often ask me what they can do for their own state of health.
With so many people curious about what a vegan eats and all of our delicious food, it’s a good idea to bring extra. I do this a lot right now and it feels really good to share a dish that I made and everyone love it, or to see my coworkers eating fresh foods that are so healthy for them. So when I want to bring some grapes in my lunch, I will bring the entire bag and let everyone pick away at them. If I have some vegan candies to make the day a little sweeter, I bring extra to pass out – especially for the boss 😉
3. Be social.
No, I don’t mean you have to stop random people on the street and become the worlds most obnoxious extrovert. Just be open to others. So many times in the grocery store somebody will ask me about a vegetable or fruit that I am buying that they have never tried before. These can lead to really meaningful and eye opening conversations if you remain approachable and let the other person guide the conversation.
Another way to be social is to get together with other vegans or even the veg-curious through potlucks or hosting a dinner at your house. If you give people an opportunity to learn on their terms, it will happen.
And realize that it is okay to take a break. Sometimes walking away and giving yourself the time to recharge is the best thing you can do for yourself and for others; because a burnt out, frustrated vegan is not nearly as effective as a happy, patient vegan.