Why vegetarian activism doesn't work?
Do you have the feeling that people around you who are vegetarian are becoming activists? Or do you find vegetarians a bit annoying? To eat vegetarian or not to eat vegetarian has become a heated topic among people.
Thanks mainly to different food options becoming more accessible and more pressure is put on consumers for their (food) choices. Being either a meat eater or veggie lover we can all agree that we love our food. So, here are some ways I found got conversations going instead of stopping.
Online and at home many debates arise as to what should go on the table when it comes to eating meat or vegetables. However, if you look closely at either side, it’s really not all that black or white.
To start off with, I myself am a vegetarian now, but it hasn’t always been that way. I loved juicy hamburgers, hotdogs with ketchup and mayo. So, I feel you, meaty meat lovers! Becoming vegetarian was also not a quick change. It ended up being a six-year process until I completely stopped meat and, eventually, fish.
I realized the more vegetarian I became the more questions I got about my lifestyle changes from family, friends, and colleagues. I also noticed that people came to see me as some sort of vegetarian activist towards meat-eaters. As if my mission in life was to convince people to also become vegetarian.
If you have experienced this then you might know that this kind of “veggie activism” makes conversations quite short with either side feeling not heard or bored.
I noticed that this kind of activism seldom contributes to a pleasant talk or a change of mind. It reminded me of the Chinese saying:
“Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.”
So meat lovers, do you want to understand your vegetarian friends a bit better? And veggie activists, do you want to join the table? Then here are my suggestions to come closer together around one of our common, favorite things: food… without heated discussions.
Three experiments before you unfriend vegetarians
When vegetarians get activists or meat-eaters get put off that doesn’t lead us anywhere. Instead of unfriending each other, there are simple and affordable ways to actually enjoy each other's company and learn.
Here are some simple experiments to try out at home that I can recommend and be a lot of fun to do while getting everyone involved.
1. Invite your vegetarian friend to stay over for dinner
One of the most entertaining ways to start this experiment is by inviting your vegetarian friend(s) over for dinner (or for a fun whole weekend). It turns out, we all have different reasons for eating meat and keeping strongly to our meaty favorites. Be it because of worrying you won’t get enough protein, won’t feel full after a meal, or because you simply have absolutely no clue what to cook without meat that tastes good.
These are all good reasons to invite your favorite friend who knows how to cook vegetarian over to show you the loops. Vegetarians generally have a good grasp of what foods are filling and which vegetarian dish gives you the right protein, carbohydrate/energy, or fat intake you need.
They are also usually creative and have learned to combine more varieties of veggies then you could possibly imagine with meat. Having said that, they can also make vegetarian dishes that will blow your mind.
Just recently I stayed a couple of days with a good friend (male) of mine who is definitely a few kilograms bigger than me. He also follows a more meaty lifestyle. Not once did I surprise him with vegetarian dishes that made him full, happy, and curious about the next meal coming up!
2. Enjoy movie night with a vegetarian twist
Movie nights are awesome but picking the right movie can be challenging, taking sometimes forever to discuss what to watch. To avoid this for a night and to prepare you for your next debate with friend(s), here is a vegetarian selection of some of the best conversation starters in the veggie vs. meat topic:
Love sports? Watch “The Game Changers” (co-produced by, muscle man, Arnold Schwarzenegger) where unbelievably strong athletes will make you think twice about the known equation of eating meat every day equals the biggest muscles and success. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.
In for horror? Nothing beats horror movie night. So, if you have some belly for hardcore facts then definitely watch ‘Cowspiracy’ to get a feel for where that juicy hamburger comes from while going behind the scenes.
Finally, for those with healthy lifestyle interests, don’t miss ‘What the Health’ where the connection of meat and what is actually healthy is laid out in a more digestible way.
Don’t forget to grab the popcorn, make your notes and enjoy!
3. Vegetarian is expensive? Put your wallet to the test
As you may have experienced, the fluctuations in your wallet are a good indicator of your daily decisions. Moreover, heated veggie vs. meat discussions usually gets steamy when the subject of “a vegetarian diet is more expensive” comes in. So, this experiment gets you to try out what vegetarian dishes do to your wallet and, as a bonus, also your energy.
The test? For one week don’t buy any meat at all. Of course, the game is not too fair if in your veggie week you only eat out and only buy prepared luxury packaged dishes or restaurant meals.
Make it realistic otherwise it's no fun! For example, when heading off to the supermarket get all your uncooked ingredients (potatoes, pasta, beans, greens etc…) just like you would do if you would be preparing for meat dishes.
Additionally, don’t forget to add your usual cafe visit, bar visit to the weekly totals.
Finally, best is to keep your bills from the previous week to compare. An additional benefit, or should I say test, is to jot down how your energy, sleep, and hunger has been after and during this week. My goodness, even add sexual performance if you want to get into the unconventional details.
To make the comparison a reason for a friendly gathering, invite your friends who are veggie eaters and those who are primarily meat-eaters for the results and prepare for some thrilling talks.
Ready to try out these experiments? I can already say you are awesome for doing it. Whatever your reason(s) you can only gain more by learning, eating, and becoming a part of the conversation instead of possibly turning away from or opposing it.
Disclaimer: this advice does not substitute talking to a nutritionist or medical doctor about your dietary needs. Please consult your doctor if you have any pre-existing conditions before you try the experiments. Thank you, good luck, have fun.
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