You’re at a dinner. People have heard the infamous rumors that you’re a vegan. Two reactions are expected to happen when this devastating piece of gossip is confirmed to be true – curiosity and scoff. Give off the wrong tone and you will forever stamp into your audience’s mind that you’re in fact a vegan-extremist. You’ll be known as one of those plant-based jihadists who go around terrorizing people at parties because they decided to order foie gras.
As a faithful student of Dale Carnegie and his magnum opus, “How to win friends and influence people” (a book all men should read), promoting veganism and making the plant-based movement look good is nothing short of marketing. It takes charm, subtlety, careful planning of your words, and facts to sell your audience. How does one command a room as a vegan, have a positive discussion about the topic, and convince others to give the plant-based lifestyle a try? Here are my personal tips that have worked in the past.
You know the saying money talks? Well looks scream. Looking good adds credibility to your story. Sounds vain but it is true. What got me over the edge from a vegetarian to a vegan was coming across John Joseph on YouTube. He was both tough and real. His appearance was a huge selling point. I already saw enough documentaries to know quitting animal products was the right move. John Joseph’s swagger was the final nail in the coffin. If Don Draper were to concoct an advertising image to get masculine men subscribing to a plant-based life, the image would John Joseph.
The point that I am making is keep yourself presentable. Rolex and Omega watches on stainless steel bracelets are vegan. Make it a habit to have well fitting clothing and invest time into your style when you are going out. You will be taken much more seriously if you look like you care about appearances.
No offense to my fellow dreadlock vegans but most people put themselves in the “biz-cas” category of style. If you are wearing hemp and talking about veganism, the crowd around you will associate your “extreme” out look on food with your “extreme” appearance. I don’t think you are extreme at all if you go with that aesthetic but you aren’t trying to sell fellow vegans, you are trying to get meat eaters onboard the vegan train.
If you look like the people at your table, or better yet, look even better than them, your words will hold a lot of weight.
Subtly and Positivity is Key
There is that famous joke – How do you know if someone is vegan? Easy. They’ll tell you within the first 5 minutes of talking to them.
I never outright tell people I am vegan. I let the topic enter into the conversation organically. It’s an easy thing to do especially when breaking bread with someone. As the waiter comes over and your friend asks, “hey, you want to split the lamb dumplings?”, the perfect time to strike is right there and then.
Never use negative phraseology in your response.
Which of the following will invite more intrigue and less hostility to the table?
“Ugh, lamb? That is gross. They are as smart as dogs. I don’t eat anything that has a mother or a face. I like knowing my food never took a shit . Hard pass for me.”
“Those dumplings sound so good but I only eat plant-based food. Unfortunately, I will have to pass.”
The former comment will make your friend hate you. The latter response may actually make your friend hate themselves for getting ready to eat an animal as smart as their pet.
Keep in mind most people eat animal products because they do not know any better. They’ve never witnessed a slaughterhouse video nor understand the truly devastating effects on a person’s health from eating dairy, poultry, and beef. Speaking about the topic gently is crucial.
Know Your Shit
Going out to dinner and being around other people should typically be a time to let your guard down and relax. As vegans, such things do not exist. Every occasion you enter into is essentially a war zone of debate. The bad news is you will be faced with a lot of questions. The good news is they are all very repetitive.
“But where do you get your protein?”
“I heard tofu gives you tits, no?”
“You aren’t getting enough nutrients right?”
“Isn’t it expensive to be a vegan?”
Write out all the questions you can expect during a night out along with their answers and rehearse. Your rebuttals should flow out with ease.
The unfortunate part is some people are in deep denial of their meat addiction and no matter how well you answer their questions, they will refuse to make any sort of personal change.
If you can calmly talk about the subject, give eloquent and thoughtful answers, and backup your position with cold-hard-facts, you will own the room. Men will be intimidated by you. Women will see you as a multi-dimensional person whose interests go beyond consumption. Remember, you are representing victims of a modern day holocaust. You are the voice to the voiceless.
In Judaism we have a term called “Chillul Hashem” which literary means desecrating God’s name. On a broader level, it means making the religion look bad. As vegans, we need to avoid making veganism look bad at all costs. Every person that you are able to sway away from consuming another animal product again, you are saving the lives of over 200 beings per year. That’s 6,000 creatures within a 30 year span. Being persuasive, looking presentable, and talking like a mensch is a sure fire way to get people on our side.