"How do you know if someone's a vegan? They'll tell you!" It's funny because it's true. And this includes those on a whole food plant-based diet; we can be a little, well, evangelical. Which makes sense, particularly if someone's reaped the health benefits of eating a WFPB diet — it's hard to be quiet about it! And it's only natural to want friends and families to reap the benefits, too.
But here's the thing: you're probably not going to convince anyone to change their diet. It's frustrating, especially if the person you want to eat this way is struggling with their health, but it makes sense when you think about. People only change when they're ready to, not because they're told to. Not to mention being constantly bombarded with unsolicited advice, however good intentioned, can be a little (or actually, very) grating.
So what you can do instead? Leave the persuasion behind and focus on these four things instead.
Before We Begin: Make Going Plant-Based Easy with MamaSezz Delivery
Reap the benefits of a WFPB diet without all the work and get fresh and delicious plant-based meals for beginners delivered to your door. No cooking required - just heat and eat. Get started today.
Convincing Doesn't Work - Try These 4 Things Instead
We talk a lot about this at MamaSezz: what to do when you have a friend or family member who could definitely benefit from eating more WFPB foods but seems resistant to the idea. On the one hand, you might be worried for their health, in the case of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity. But on the other hand, you very much value this person, and their own God-given discernment, and want to be understanding of their journey, any cultural/traditional/emotional connections to food, and the complicated nature of change.
Whew — it's a tricky subject! Luckily, MamaSezz co-founder, Lisa Lorimer, has some great insights that I've gleaned from over the years. Here are just a few of the ideas I've really taken to heart.
1. Lead By Example
You can go on and on about the health benefits of eating this way all you want but it could fall on deaf ears, especially if someone's feeling especially resistant to change. Instead of listing bullet points or wagging fingers, simply live your healthy plant-based life. This can be hard for me because when I have a bee in my bonnet about something I have a really hard time keeping quiet. But when you're thriving and jiving, the people who love you will most likely notice...and maybe even ask your secret. They also might not (this happens to me all the time — I don't know about you guys but I often think people are paying attention to me more than they really are...). Either way, it's OK! Just keep doing your thing.
2. Share Your Food (and Sometimes Your Story)
You don't have to be the vegan in a vacuum. If you're the only WFPB eater in your crowd make a plant-based dish and bring enough to share next time you get together. This way they see that vegan food isn't just bland tofu or mysterious (and chewy) ancient grains. You don't even have to advertise that your dish is plant-based. Choose simple plant-based recipes that are familiar to your friends and family — like these plant-based spins on comfort food classics.
(Don't want to cook? Order MamaSezz and get ready-made plant-based meals, delivered!)
If, over plant-based dinner, they ask about your own experience with plants, by all means share your story. None of us like to be told what to do but we do all seem to love a good story. Did you reach your weight loss goals? Reverse high blood pressure? Get your inflammation in check? When the time is appropriate (i.e. relevant to conversation or directly asked of you), share your own plant-based transformation. It may change nothing but at the very least, you're having an honest discussion with your loved ones about where you're at and how you got there.
3. Have Resources Ready
Picture this: your friends and family have noticed how healthy you look and feel, they've enjoyed some of your delicious plant-based comfort food you brought to the potluck, and now, finally, they have a few questions about your WFPB diet. They've come to you on their own terms, without you being pushy. Now is your shot! You're going to want to make sure you've got resources ready to go. Here's a great place to start for WFPB beginner resources.
4. Remember Your Own Resistance to Change
Not everyone's going to get on the WFPB diet wagon. Probably most of your friends and family won't. And you've got to let that go. It's not up to you to change anyone. Remember your own plant-based journey. Chances are you had your own resistance. And forcing or guilting anyone to do something is not a long-term solution (nor is it very kind). So remember that it's not up to you and you've got to respect where they're at, just as you'd hope they respect where you're at.
- Convincing someone to do anything is never really a good idea – if they have to be convinced, they're probably not going to stick with it (or like you very much for forcing their hand!).
- Leave persuasion behind and focus on leading by example, sharing your plant-based food (and story), have helpful resources ready, remember your own resistance to change.
By Ali Brown
Ali is a mom, wife, and nutrition and lifestyle writer and editor. She has her Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.