Boyfriend, wife, kids, parents or friends - spending your life with people who don’t share your values or actions can be hard. When we are enthusiastic about a lifestyle, it is only natural to want to share this with the people we love and spend time with. It’s not so easy being the odd one out, and realising that our passion and enthusiasm isn’t quite matched by those around us. So what to do when you’re the only vegan in the house, to not only cope with the challenges, but to thrive? Read below for some of my tips.
Let them know
First of all, it’s important to explain to people why you have chosen this lifestyle, and what it means for you. Sometimes, we expect people to know what Veganism means. Though some people really don’t understand how it really looks in practise. They may have heard something like ‘vegans don’t eat meat’, and their definition of meat is ‘red meat’, therefore, cook you fish for dinner. It’s not just that - some restaurants, friends, families, or restaurant staff are well meaning, and unknowing. Some will also think it is only about what you eat. So if you’re sharing a life, house, or fridge, with people who aren’t vegan you may need to clearly express to them how your lifestyle is different from theirs. It can also be helpful to share your favourite brands, products, and of course - Buddy Scrub product with your loved ones, so that come holidays and birthdays they will be able to give you gifts that are aligned with your lifestyle.
Share Your Passion
There are so many ways to feel connected to those you live with, whilst staying strong in your beliefs and understanding of others. There is a big difference between lecturing our loved ones, and sharing some interesting information. Knowing how to find the balance with sharing information is key to helping people in your life better understand the vegan lifestyle.
Rather than demand that all members eat the same as you, or begin to tell them how their meal is not ethical or compassionate, why not gently share your efforts by offering to cook for the whole house once (or more!) a week? Offer from a place of genuinely wanting to share and nourish them, and stay humble through the process. They will see - and taste - for themselves, how delicious and accessible this lifestyle can be. They don’t need to convert, or even hear why the meal is ethical and cruelty free - and sometimes they may just ask themselves! When something is shoved down out throats (literally and figuratively) then they may be far less likely to want to absorb the information and be open to it. You may find that the less ‘intense’ you are about trying to convert your family in particular, the more curious they may be on their own to ask about your lifestyle and reasons.
If you can, offer to buy some more groceries for the house, stocking up full of vegan products and ingredients. Explaining how to use these products and how to cook with the ingredients is a way to include others in your lifestyle. They may even like that vegan cheese more than the dairy!
Have a sense of humour
People like to tease, annoy, and make jokes. Maybe your family is super supportive and happy for you, or maybe some remarks get to you and leave you feeling disconnected and frustrated. Remember, not everyone will understand your decision, and not everyone is where you are at with their values. Maybe one day… but for now, try to keep a sense of humour and not take others so seriously when they make comments about your choices. You can stay strong and steady with your own boundaries, without having to get defensive or senstitive about their comments. Often people’s comments and jokes come from a lack of understanding about Veganism. Staying strong in these moments helps to ensure that your compassionate energy remains strong.
If you are newly transitioning, or unsure o f which items in your household are suited to your lifestyle, make sure you keep yourself informed by looking up information online. When it comes to nutrition, there is a great amount of resources about nutrient sources, vitamins and minerals and everything you need to know and consume. This will also keep you prepared when you’re asked the question you’ll probably hear countless times in your life: ‘where do you get your protein?!’
Vegan snacks can be delicious. Bliss balls, exotic fruits, nuts, granola, crackers, and so much more. So delicious that others may want to nibble on them too! Make sure you are clear in what is yours, and whether you are up for sharing or not. You can even suggest replacing their cheese dips with hummus if they really like it, and help the whole household in the process! Otherwise, respect their snacks, and ask for respect for yours.
Compassion is Key
Know that we are all on our own journey, and if being compassionate and giving more love is one of your values and reasons for living a vegan lifestyle, then it only makes sense to treat all others - no matter their lifestyle - with compassion and love. Though it can be easy to get stuck in feelings of helplessness and sadness when we see injustice and a lack of understanding, know that you can contribute your knowledge and action to helping to create changes in yours and others lives, whilst still staying open and inclusive of everyone. Stay confident in your choices, and you may see others having more confidence in your choices as well.
Join a group
If you find that you’re continuing to feel isolated as a vegan in your household, then there are many ways to connect with others who have a vegan lifestyle. There are many communities that you can join, such as Instagram pages, Facebook groups, groups via meetup.com.au or attending vegan community events in your city. Connecting with people who have a similar lifestyle and values to you, will help you to feel less isolated and perhaps even make some new friends.
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