30 Aug 2014

How to Convert Someone to Veganism: Four Methods


Veganism is a beautiful thing. I know it, and you - being a reader of this blog - probably know it too. There are, however, many folks out in the world who don't realise quite how beautiful it is yet. Maybe a few of your friends and family members fit into this category. Never fear - I'm here to guide you in your journey towards a beautiful vegan world, one blog post at a time.

Non-vegans can be converted. Sometimes it may not seem that way, but it's certainly possible. Why, most of us were inspired to make the switch at some stage, weren't we? So don't dismay... just read ahead.

1. The ethical approach

This is the best approach for those who are new to veganism or don't yet know all the facts. It's also probably the approach that helps most people transition into veganism - I know it worked for me! Seeing animals suffer so horribly was enough to set me straight on the path of veganism, never to look back.

Some people react quite well to gruesome videos (I did, in the sense that seeing one immediately converted me to veganism) but others will simply refuse to watch. Don't worry, there are other options available. I found this video particularly effective. It shows exactly what the pigs go through and ignites empathy, but without all of the violence. The purpose of the ethical approach is to remind non-vegans that animals feel. They are sentient, caring, loving beings who can form strong bonds and lifelong relationships. They really are no different from our household companions - dogs and cats - so why should we treat them any differently?

2. Blast them with facts

This option works best if you're a more "advanced" vegan and you've done your share of research. You must make sure you have all of your facts straight before you choose this option - you wouldn't want to defame the movement by spreading false information! Remember to keep your cool and don't fight, just debate. Never, ever resort to name-calling or personal attacks. If you're going to take this road, you're better off sticking with a logical argument. Talk about the reality of factory farming, talk about the environmental impact of eating meat, talk about the proven fact that non-human animals can suffer. Cite academic documents, reliable websites and, if applicable, your own personal experiences.

NutritionFacts.org is a great resource run by a vegan doctor, Michael Greger, M.D. Think of a fact you want to know about vegan nutrition - you'll find it there. This book by Charles Patterson is a fantastic source of information discussing the connection between our oppression of non-human animals and the holocaust.

Even if you reference an article that has been proven a thousand times over to be true, there will still be folks out there who will tell you it's all BS. Often, when people meet with undeniable facts, they throw up their defense mechanisms and refuse to come to terms with what they are hearing. It happened to me when I first heard about the egg industry - I was in denial, and I didn't want it to be true - so I disputed the facts. I know now that I was wrong. It just took time. Most people will likely react in this way, but have patience - eventually they may come to their senses.

3. Feed them into submission

Well, not literally... I mean, show them what vegan eating is all about! A great deal of non-vegans are still under the impression that the vegan diet is extremely limited, consisting mainly of spinach and tofu. Of course, as vegans, we know that's not true at all. There are huge amounts of resources out there showcasing all of the beautiful varieties of vegan food available. Oh She Glows and Mouthwatering Vegan are just two of my favourites. What Fat Vegans Eat is a Facebook group full of excellent posts about all different kinds of vegan food - and it's not all as fattening as the name suggests.

Show non-vegans photos of vegan food, cook vegan food for them, give them recipes so they can cook their own - do whatever you can to crush whatever's remaining of those naive beliefs about vegan eating!

4. Tell them they're crappy

Tumblr user "Vegan Because F*** You" is an excellent example of someone who uses this approach effectively. Their not-so-sweet approach may have gained them a massive "haterbase", but it's just something that comes with the territory. They claim to have converted over 250 people to veganism through their take-no-prisoners blogging - so all in all, the good definitely outweighs the bad.

This isn't the option I would necessarily recommend, but it is proven to work quite well for some people. A little bit of aggression can go a long way. Really. I've seen it happen! Some non-vegans may be interested in the lifestyle, but for whatever reason they've decided that veganism is too hard, too expensive, or whatever other arguments people come up with. Sometimes all they need is an (aggressive) push in the right direction. Tell them they're lazy. Tell them to suck it up, it's not all that bloody hard! I've seen it done before, and it works.

In conclusion...

As vegans, we must remember that our philosophy is to show compassion towards all beings. It can be hard at times, but we must remember exactly what we are fighting for. This isn't about us, this isn't about making other people look bad, it's about raising awareness for animal rights. It's best to remember that converting to veganism is a process - it may take a longer or shorter amount of time depending on the person. So long as they are genuinely interested in veganism, you have done your job. You can then take steps to further educate them and offer recipes and advice. 

Some people, on the other hand, just won't be converted. Do not waste time on such people - they aren't worth your time or your worry. I've been there, done that, and you really can't win against some people. Unfortunately, there are people out there who simply don't give a damn. Instead, let's focus on the good ones!