We’ve all been there. That awkward moment when you are out with friends, work colleagues, family members or even people you don’t know all too well and somebody offers you something to eat or drink that isn’t vegan.
There can be an uncomfortable silence and you can often feel a huge desire to not want to offend people or come across as a difficult vegan.
Well, I’m here to tell you it’s OK to say no to non-vegan offerings with a friendly confidence.
Actually, it’s more than just OK.
Learning to love saying “I’m vegan” gives you confidence in your beliefs, affords people a super quick insight into the type of person you are (i.e. kind!) and acts as a form of outreach to help spread your compassionate message of caring for animals.
For some people, becoming confident and comfortable with the decision of going vegan and being vocal about it takes time. One of the best ways to become assured of your own veganism is to talk about it and this can include something as simple as turning down non-vegan food. I strongly believe a confident vegan is an attractive friend prospect to most people, not just other vegans.
When it comes to picking my friends and the people around me, there is nothing more important or admirable than a person who believes strongly in something positive and takes an unwavering stand on that topic.
You are going to look like a person of your convictions to those around you if you employ a zero-tolerance approach to non-vegan food items. I’ve been vegan for twenty years and one of the things my friends say they love about me is my commitment to the causes in which I believe.
A confident person who can be unapologetically vegan with a smile on their face is not only an admirable person, they are also the best form of activism.
When a kind and approachable vegan stands firm and friendly in their convictions, it is the best advertisement for veganism. When people see you sticking to your beliefs yet still getting on with life and enjoying the company of those around you, it can be the inspiration they need to start thinking about taking that step themselves.
It’s not being preachy to say “No, thanks. I’m vegan.” It’s being true to yourself and it is just one of the ways you are working to improve outcomes for animals.
The majority of vegans you know haven’t always been vegan, so they must have had a first time hearing about the lifestyle.
Think of how many people’s first time you can be if you find a way to say no to non-vegan food. By politely but assuredly turning down non-vegan food and drink, you might just be positioning yourself as the seed that will one day sprout and take someone on their compassionate journey.
Seeds sprouting into compassionate journeys? Yes, even my metaphors are vegan.
Of course it isn’t always plain sailing when you are the only vegan in your social group. People can sometimes take your vegan stance as an attack on their choices or even come to see you as a ‘sanctimonious inconvenience’ (yes, that happened to me and still stings).
It can be a tricky balancing act to manoeuvre within certain groups of friends and family, but it is completely OK to stand your vegan ground even when some individuals will see your lifestyle choice as a challenge.
It’s completely understandable that the concept of veganism will be met with some resistance when you consider how ingrained the use of animals is in our society. Heck, they are even in our money!
But that is exactly why we are vegan. We want to help enact a change in these attitudes and practices in order to cause less harm. A little social awkwardness is surely a small price to pay as we find our vegan feet and save the planet.
You can gently yet firmly reassure people that your choice to not consume animal products is based on how you feel about the world around you (and animals!) and is not an attack on their personal consumption of ribs, rumps and legs. You can do this in a goodnatured way that doesn’t have to lead to offence being taken.
It’s your decision and your life being affected, not theirs. Being self-assured and happy with your choices is one of the best parts of living vegan. Learn to enjoy it.