In the last blog post, we talked about the fears people have which are hidden behind excuses they make to why they can not be vegans. In today’s video we’ll talk about how to deal with those fears.
So let’s dive in and cover one by one. How do we deal with those fears?
1. Fear of change
As we talked about in the last post, this fear consists of three kinds of feelings that people try to avoid: Feeling Overwhelmed - People see being vegan as a very complex thing.
Let’s tackle that. How do we deal with feeling overwhelmed?
We don’t want people to feel bombarded with information, or with things to do. There are so many new habits to develop all at once. Now, I’m a huge fan of the mountain approach. Every climb seems difficult to climb but when you focus just on going one step forward, it makes it much more simple to go the distance. So, we help people walk one step at a time. We help them develop one habit at a time.
That’s more or less what I did on my journey when I transitioned to a vegan diet. I didn’t go vegan overnight. In fact, it took months before I went completely vegan. When I first eliminated the meat and dairy, I used to add a lot more eggs and fish, in order to compensate for the things I love or the protein I thought I needed. So I ate more of other animal products when I eliminated certain kinds. That was a necessary step for me in my transitioning process. Even though I didn’t decrease the overall amount of animal products I ate, I connected another piece in the puzzle, understanding that meat and dairy shouldn’t be part of my diet if I really want to be the healthiest version of myself. The fish and eggs were another step after that. Another piece of the puzzle that I connected later. But I needed to take this first step in order to see the next one and the next one.
You start talking with them about one thing. Don’t even talk about completely transitioning to a vegan diet. A lot of people when they hear they should change their whole lifestyle, they get defensive or don’t want to listen to what we have to say. So talking about just one thing, for example, maybe… its the milk they drink with their coffee and how harmful it is for our health.
And then the habit, for example, is starting to use non-dairy milk in their coffee. They only change one thing. They drink coffee with a different milk, and in the process, they learn one thing - they learn about the alternatives they have: almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, etc.
I believe changing just one small thing helps people avoid the panic… because they don’t have to deal with a lot of things all at once, and slowly, they eventually see everything gets very simple and they do things automatically. Our role is to be supportive and patient with them because new habits take some time getting used to.
The second feeling people try to avoid is: Feeling restricted.
That’s a pretty easy one to tackle. Today, unlike in the past, it is much easier to transition to a vegan diet because we have a lot more variety of products, restaurants, events. To overcome the feeling of being restricted, we have to show people the abundance of options of foods we have. When you see abundance, you can’t feel restricted.
We have so many vegan products available today, you can make literally anything: vegan cheese, vegan burgers, vegan pizza... And let’s talk about recipes! Every single day, new recipes are being created and can be found online on blogs, Youtube, Pinterest. A lot of them are alternative recipes for stuff we used to eat before. You can find everything online, from a simple breakfast idea to a special occasion dish for work or a birthday cake.
And let’s talk about the amount of vegan restaurants popping out everywhere. Or the fact that lots of restaurants that, you know, vegan food is not what they do, it’s not their focus, but they add vegan menus or more vegan options to their original menu.
If we show people abundance, how can they say we are restricted? By the way, showing abundance doesn’t mean necessarily that you force them to come to a vegan restaurant or to get them to try the vegan options in the menu, but you can still cook them delicious vegan food and show them other options of food YOU eat as part of your lifestyle. Simply doing that, might open their mind to try or think about vegan food differently.
The third feeling that people try to avoid is: The Feeling of Missing Out
I’m sure that when I talked about the abundance of alternatives that exist today in the market, there were some of you who thought to yourself, “Yes, that’s true, but where can I find alternatives to things my family or friends really love like chicken… or the eggs they eat in the morning? I agree that a lot of the substitutes don’t taste exactly like the original taste of an animal product, although there are some really good ones in the market. Now here is what I believe we should do in that case:
People don’t want to lose what they have right now. They love to eat animal products - The fish, everything with cheese, eggs, burgers. And when they look at veganism they see it all disappear from their lives. It makes them feel that they’re actually losing a lot by choosing this lifestyle. Now, you and I, if you've been vegan for some time, both of us know we're gaining a lot more on the vegan lifestyle. And that’s exactly what we have to show them. One of the comments I come across most often when I ask vegans what they would have done differently on their journey, is: “I wish I had made the transition sooner." "I wish I made the change a lot earlier in my life”.
Our health improves, the vitality, energy, many people also see improvements in their athletic performance. And of course not to mention the benefits it has on the environment and the animals. But I'm not touching this topic so much, because I feel that when people's excuse is "What about cheese?" "What about the bacon?", they care less about the animals and more about their lifestyle and how going vegan might hurt their quality of life. So when we understand that, that’s exactly what we need to help people see. What they earn. How they get a lot more “profits”... benefits as a result of the transition to a vegan lifestyle.
When they see that a certain choice might bring even more gains, more benefits than what they have right now, the choice will be much easier for them to make. And an example for that: I talked to a woman, she’s around 50 something and she suffered from osteoporosis. The thing is, she loved cheese. She consumed a lot of dairy products as part of her diet. And she also thought she needs a lot of it in order to get calcium and fix her situation. So when I started explaining to her about the harmful effects of dairy products and what she could gain when removing those from her diet, she started to be more receptive to listening to what I was talking about. Removing the dairy products for her, in her head meant a lot of pain. But when she realized the dairy products are what’s bringing pain into her life, and that she’s going to gain better health, she decided to listen. I didn’t even talk to her about transitioning to a vegan diet! I just talked to her about the dairy products. Remember, just one step at a time.
Ok, let’s move on to the second fear...
2. Fear of rejection
Now, the fear of rejection is everything related to our social environment and how people around us accept the fact that we are vegans. I deliberately said: how the people around us accept or receive the fact that we are vegans, because we, ourselves, are the people who transmit or give them a sense of what it is - what the vegan lifestyle is and how it looks like. I’ll explain. So, we can not control what people think about us or what they say or do, but we can reduce the impact of rejection by what we transmit to our environment. If we don’t make an issue out of it or that it is something unusual and difficult, people won’t see it as a big issue. If we show that veganism is positive, fun, tasty, and healthy, that's how they'll see it too. If we come with a confident approach about our choice, about the knowledge we have, people will have no doubts about it, and you’ll find that over time there will also be some people who will become intrigued and start to explore the option of trying or asking questions about our lifestyle. People are attracted to confidence, to people who are positive and look healthy and glowing.
It's a good idea to learn and explore a little deeper for information about veganism (about the impact it has on our health or our world, or maybe the factory farming industry). That way, you can tackle common concerns or answer questions that people throw at you during a meal or a meeting. Obviously, the more knowledge you have, the more confidence you develop, and you will feel more capable of dealing with any social rejection you might experience.
But it’s important to make sure that we’re not preaching, and that we are positive and pleasant to our environment. That way, people are much more likely to listen to us, than if we preach or yell at them. Put yourself in their shoes, and try to think how would you have wanted for someone to talk to you about the topic?
A few more tips that can make it easier for us, socially, as vegans:
- When eating outside - Do some research and choose restaurants that are vegan-friendly or if your friends offer some suggestions, check the menu to see if they have vegan dishes that you can eat at these restaurants.
- In a meeting with family or friends, you can bring a vegan dish or offer them to cook vegan food together in addition to what they already planned to make.
- Last important tip - Make sure it’s not the only thing you talk about! It’s very common that when people transition to a vegan diet, it becomes something they’re very passionate about, I’m guilty of that too! Being a vegan is a part of us, but it’s not all of us. It’s not who you are as a person. And the message we have to bring across here is that the transition to veganism does not change our character. Our values might change. Our choices and lifestyle might change. But inside we are exactly the same before and after the transition to veganism. In fact, I feel like being vegan even brings a better part of us outside. It helps us see things differently. I begin to be more aware of what goes into my body and how it affects my health. And also, I became more compassionate and more conscious about the environment and the animals.
Now the last fear,
3. Fear of failure
I believe the fear of failure is divided into two main "failures": People who are afraid to fail health-wise, becoming unhealthy as a result of eating vegan (like not getting all the vitamins and minerals that the body needs). Of course, it’s a legit fear, because it's a new diet that you're interested in but you don’t have enough information yet to know if it's really good for you.
The first way to handle it is: To arm yourself with information, do some research and understand as much as possible about the vegan diet, how to nourish our body with everything it needs, good sources for vitamins, recipes, and so forth. That way, you can be their guide, you can help other people on their journey.
Also, you can show them examples of people who are vegan athletes and they’re training and getting enough protein and other nutrients. You can show them lectures of doctors, nutritionists. Send them videos or websites by doctors who provide information about how to get all the nutrients and create a balanced vegan menu for yourself.
I’ll add a few resources with links in the description below so you can learn more yourself and use the information to help other people. The second way to handle this type of failure and I feel like is much more affective is… YOU, being their inspiration. Since they see you as a living proof (they see it close to them) and they have an emotional connection with you, you are one of the best inspirations for them. So now you’re not just telling them about the facts, you’re not just telling them to watch a lecture with information of some doctor they don’t know, you actually show them how transitioning to a vegan diet helped you improve your health. Or how it affected your training in a positive way. Or how energetic you feel and how your skin glows. Be an example for them. People will get interested in what you’re doing because they want to feel the same, they want what you have too.
The other part of failure is the fear that they’ll fail with sticking to a vegan diet. These thoughts that go through their mind: " What if I decide that I want to be a vegan but I won’t be able to persevere and eventually quit?" "What if I won’t be able to commit to this lifestyle?… so then, why should I even start? I’ll just make fun of myself or will be judged by my environment for trying this vegan thing and then couldn’t commit to it so I quit." These are a lot of thoughts that are going through people’s minds when thinking about veganism.
When you get comments like: “But don’t you miss cheese?”, “Don’t you have cravings for ______ (fill in the blank), chicken, pizza, whatever. or even: “It sounds too hard, I can’t do it”. All these types of comments sound like they’re trying to figure out how do you succeed on this lifestyle. You know, I’m putting myself in their shoes or even as my younger self when I started making steps toward veganism, and I asked my friend who was vegan, “do you have cravings for this or that? Or… I, myself, said: “It sounds too hard, how do you keep on doing it? How do people live on this lifestyle for that long?” I didn’t ask these questions to make fun of him or anything. I was honestly curious to hear his answers to how he’s able to succeed on this lifestyle. And when I translated it, in my head, it was me being afraid to fail or of not knowing how to sustain this lifestyle if I wanted to transition or to just even try it. So again, I had this person who was an inspiration for me. He didn’t necessarily take me by the hand and showed me everything about the vegan lifestyle, but he was there to answer questions with patience and sometimes even send me more information if I needed.
So just being there for people, listening to their concerns and sharing your knowledge, can make a lot of difference in their attitude toward veganism.
But another important part of that is that Fear of failure in this aspect is also a lot about our mindset. So we need to help people come from the attitude of "nothing will happen if I’m wrong or if I eat something and give in to my cravings. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about taking small steps toward your goal. And speaking from experience, in the first year of my veganism, there were a few times that I ate animal products. Some on purpose, I chose to eat or try a dish that looked really good, and some were accidentally in the dish I was eating that I didn’t know contained eggs or milk or things like that. But nothing happened. I learned. And I believe these were necessary steps on my journey.
And if you look at all we covered in this blog post, it all comes down to, being an example, and showing people the world of veganism, so they can see how positive it is, how simple, tasty and fun it can be.
If you have a challenge or a fear that I have not addressed, let me know in a comment below, I’d love to help you find a way to deal with it or I’ll even make a video about it! :)
Thanks for reading guys! I’ll see you on the next article.