It is very common to become a “Vegangelist” (Vegan Evangelist) when you first make the transition to a vegetarian/vegan/live food lifestyle. When you have discovered the power of a vegan or living food lifestyle and seen the changes in your life and the lives of others you want to spread the good news to all of your friends and family. Unfortunately many if not all of them will NOT be interested in hearing about your new discovery.
This can be especially hard if someone you care about is sick or suffering and could potentially be helped by making lifestyle changes. You watch them suffer, or deteriorate, or maybe even pass away, all the while ignoring or disbelieving that making diet and lifestyle changes could help them.
As hard as it is, it is important to refrain from becoming the Vegan Police or Vegan Evangelist. Otherwise you may find your friends and family begin to shun you. You may find yourself uninvited to gatherings and meals. The very people you care so much about may shut you out.
I found when I first became vegan and then raw vegan my family was curious about what I was doing and why. I took this and an indication that they were open to considering veganism and the Vegangelism began. BUT no, they were mostly just interested in something that was peculiar. They didn’t really want to hear all that much about it.
Nana Kwaku always says not to talk about how and why you are eating the way you do over a meal, which was usually when I found it would come up as the difference between my plate and theirs was apparent. He always says to respond to questions with the response, “I prefer not to talk about it while we are eating. Ask me later and I’ll be happy to answer your questions.” Chances are they won’t come back.
So what can you do?
Be a shining example of health and vitality. People will notice the difference between you and those living the SAD (Standard American Diet) lifestyle. They will notice the changes in you. Don’t be smug about it or act “better than thow.” Remember you weren’t always living this way. There may have even been a time when you were against vegetarianism. Each person will have to come to this decision (or not) on their own.
Always be willing to share your healthy dishes. Bring your kale salad, your smoothies or whatever with you to gatherings and meals and share the goodness with others. Or order a veggie appetizer to share at a restaurant. This way people will have chance to try things in a non-threatening way. Even if they don’t make a complete switch you may find that they begin to add more healthy dishes to their meals.
Be available for those who are truly interested. If someone earnestly comes to you wanting to learn more, you can slowly begin to share what you know. Do not go too fast. Don’t deluge them with information. Maybe recommend a few books such as these or websites like this one. Share more only as they are ready and ask more questions.
Accept each person as they are. Love them and be there for them even if they have chosen a different path. If a loved one is taking a more conventional approach to a health issue do not pass judgment and push for a different approach. You might briefly share a resource that may be helpful but then step back and let it be. If and when they are ready to move in a more natural direction they will have somewhere to start. They will know you are a potential resource and may ask for help. If they never come to that point, that’s ok too. In the meantime, just be there and support them in what ever way they need.
Don’t take this as a rejection of you. There are powerful forces pushing people to stay on the path of the SAD lifestyle and conventional medicine. Most people are not ready or able to see beyond the “hype.” Be grateful that you have found a healthier alternative and leave it at that. Once people find out that you will accept them as they are, they will likely be more accepting of you.
Have you ever found yourself becoming a Vegangelist? Tell us about it in the comments.
P.S. There is still time to take the survey and let your voice be heard about who we are as Black Vegetarians. Click the link in the box below. The survey closes on Friday, August 22 so don’t delay!