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 Post subject: Help me not be a sanctimonious
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 6:55 am 
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Tofu Pup
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Hi All!

So I'm in the throws of transitioning to a plant based diet and hopefully by the end of Jan I'll be completely Vegan. I've been ovo-lacto for a couple of years though I will admit I haven't always been as strict as I should.

I really feel as though swearing off animal products is the right choice for me and so to reinforce this opinion and get myself to really commit to the changes I'm making I keep on watching movies on animal welfare, rereading parts of Eating Animals etc. The problem is that I now feel myself becoming a bit of a sanctimonious arse-hat.

I don't want to be the kind of vegan my ex-housemate was. He used to come in and say to our other omni housemate "What's for dinner!? A charred corpse sandwich?" I think those kinds of people really do a discredit to other vegans to be honest.

The thing is that I really believe that the meat/dairy/egg industries are pretty screwed and I'm finding it hard to bite my tongue and be content to live and let live. My brother is making things worse by harping on about how my new way of eating is "extreme". It's lead to some pretty ridiculous arguments that lead to me almost crying when he told me he bought a whole lamb in a box on the weekend.

It's weird because when it comes to anything else (drinking, smoking, human rights etc) I've been fine with just doing the best I could and leaving everyone else alone... but when it comes to my new diet I'm positively evangelical and it's making me want to punch myself because I know that what other people eat is none of my business. Really I should just be trying my best to explain my reasons but not feel the need to change others' minds.

Does anyone have any advice for me? I'm about to go crazy and possibly be murdered.


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 Post subject: Re: Help me not be a sanctimonious
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:16 am 
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The Real Hamburger Helper
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Don't get your knickers in a twist about things. Calm down. Take a deep breath. If you don't feel like answering questions justifying yourself, give a short, closed answer and move on. Make veganism the most boring and unremarkable subject they can think of, so they get bored of talking about it with you. Don't get strung up on other people's actions, it won't do you any good.

If necessary, remind people that it's 2012 and you're not about to starve to death or succumb to malnutrition. Tell people you don't want to eat things you don't want to eat, and you've read up on the different health risks associated with veganism, and that you're at a much lower risk of some health problems as a vegan (lower risk of: several cancers, heart disease), at a cost of slightly higher risks of other ones if you don't make sure there are no shortfalls in your diet (higher risk of: lower bone density, vitamin D (unless you live somewhere really sunny) or B12 deficiency, some mineral deficiencies, omega-3 fatty acid issues). All of those are well-documented and easily handled, though. Certainly more easily handled than, say, high cholesterol or colorectal cancer. I find one of the easiest ways of turning people off asking stupid questions is by being as matter-of-fact and tedious as possible. I, personally, don't find veganism an interesting subject to talk about, so I don't talk about it unless people ask me directly, which rarely happens (cookery and food, on the other hand, I could talk about forever).

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 Post subject: Re: Help me not be a sanctimonious
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:37 am 
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Seagull of the PPK
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Gulliver wrote:
Don't get your knickers in a twist about things. Calm down. Take a deep breath.

+100.

my first exposure to veganism was from a sanctimonious priss (and it was, subsequently, 10 years before i considered veganism seriously again). those people do more to stop people from being vegan than anything else, i fear. do the good you can in your own life, and worry first about being able to live with other people's choices before you start thinking about changing other people's lives (learning to live with other people's choices and opinions, whether about veganism or anything else, is a useful skill anyway)

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 Post subject: Re: Help me not be a sanctimonious
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:41 am 
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Heart of Vegan Marshmallow
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I battled this when I first went vegan a couple of years ago. I soon came to realize that the conversations that flowed out of my new-found convictions were nothing but frustrating for me and absolutely not worth getting into. Either people weren't really interested in why I chose to go vegan and were just trying to justify their animal use, or they were really interested but I felt like I was having the same conversation over and over without it making much of an impact.

Recently, I've decided to change my tack and say something along the lines of "I just decided it was the right choice for me" and then direct them to places they can get more information about what's really wrong with dairy/eggs if they really seem genuinely interested. (Or just leave it at that statement if they don't seem genuinely interested.) I haven't had a chance to put this to use because most of the people around me already know and accept my veganism, but I'm sure it'll come up again at some point.

Sanctimoniousness doesn't win anyone over, and no one will make the switch unless they're really ready to. Remember that many of us (yourself included, as you seem to be saying) came to this decision gradually. I knew how horrendous the dairy and egg industries were for a while before I was ready to cut dairy and egg out. Think of your own path and have compassion for those who aren't there yet. And accept that, as frustrating as it may be, not everyone even wants to know the truth or cares if they do. Getting all up in their faces about it isn't helping you, them, or the animals.

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 Post subject: Re: Help me not be a sanctimonious
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:53 am 
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Semen Strong
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I do think that new vegans tend to be more aggressive because they have important information to share but haven't yet figured out how to communicate it effectively. And you're also at the stage where people really challenge your choice, which happens a lot less once you've been vegan for a few years. The sad thing is that being really emotionally triggered or passionate about this can easily push you to burn out.

Find vegan friends, go to vegan events, surround yourself with people and things that nurture and support you. Avoid situations where people will be challenging your choices and deflect (Oh yes, I really like being vegan, oh have you tried this delicious dip? Wonder who made it?). I say give yourself 6 months to a year to be gentle with yourself, and if you proselytize then just move on and try to stay focussed on your own journey and learning.

I figured out who I can talk to (people who express sincere interest) and everyone else's gambits get deflected if I know they aren't open or going to make a shift. Even talking about dairy or eggs is triggering to me because its so unfair and cruel and no one seems to care, so even if someone asks me "why no eggs?" In a curious way, I still don't want to get too deep into it unless the person is considering making a shift. So I say a sentence and then deflect.

Oh and start baking delicious treats. Its hard to be sanctimonious when people are oohing at your food :)

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 Post subject: Re: Help me not be a sanctimonious
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 8:32 am 
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If someone told me they were buying a whole lamb, I'd tell them that they do what they need to do but that I have made a decision for myself that I feel is right for myself. If they want to talk about the benefits of veganism, sure lets talk. I also think talking in the positives is a good way. You may eat a wider range of food, may eat more vegetables, try new things, etc. I have shared many recipes with people that are hard core meat eaters but its not to get them to go vegan, its to introduce them to new things.

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 Post subject: Re: Help me not be a sanctimonious
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 5:49 pm 
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Calls "cavemen" on that
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lepelaar wrote:
I battled this when I first went vegan a couple of years ago. I soon came to realize that the conversations that flowed out of my new-found convictions were nothing but frustrating for me and absolutely not worth getting into. Either people weren't really interested in why I chose to go vegan and were just trying to justify their animal use, or they were really interested but I felt like I was having the same conversation over and over without it making much of an impact.

Recently, I've decided to change my tack and say something along the lines of "I just decided it was the right choice for me" and then direct them to places they can get more information about what's really wrong with dairy/eggs if they really seem genuinely interested. (Or just leave it at that statement if they don't seem genuinely interested.) I haven't had a chance to put this to use because most of the people around me already know and accept my veganism, but I'm sure it'll come up again at some point.


Yes, this exactly. Very well said.

I just chill out and don't bother with the 'discussions' that always seem to try to get me all defensive and upset. I am much more chill about it. I pretty much refuse to discuss it over a dinner table as well, I don't think that is the time or place to discuss someone's eating habits (vegan or not).

Also, try to make some vegan or veggie friends, online if you have to. I have a few online forums that I am on (but this one is my favorite).

Also food! Start enjoying vegan cooking. I didn't even get that into cooking until I went vegan. Also, if you talk about 'food' vs 'vegan' around friends and family, it might be easier for them as well (although of course, it is about more than food)


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 Post subject: Re: Help me not be a sanctimonious
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:54 pm 
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Tofu Pup
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Thanks for the responses guys. What I'm hearing from you all is that I just need to not engage which I reckon is definitely the way to go. The problem is that when it's at the forefront of my mind ALL the time (I'm constantly having to remember not to grab cows milk from the fridge - to get soy. To order my pasta without cheese etc.) I think it's easy for me to get my back up.

I will get there I'm sure!

And it's a great suggestion about making lots of food to be more positive! I had my friends over on the weekend and I made a mix of vegan and vegetarian food and it was a hit. I have my copies of Vegan Cookies and Vegan Cupcakes on their way so I'm ready to rock their socks! I think my usual baking might be what I'll miss most... that and the stereotypical cheese... (and yes I've read a thread about how annoying that comment is... but it's so true!)


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 Post subject: Re: Help me not be a sanctimonious
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:07 am 
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Dr Bronners, MD
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What I usually tell people is that I don't care what they do, but I've made my own decisions, and it's none of their business.

Depending on how they've approached me and the level of friendship, I might cuss more. ("I don't give a shiitake what you eat, so fork off" vs. a more polite version of the same sentiment.)

The thing to remember is that whatever you decide to do, you probably aren't going to change anyone's mind by lecturing them, so if they ask stuff politely, answer politely, but if they give you a hard time, tell them that it's none of their damn business. Only tell them things if they ask sincerely. Otherwise, who cares? Let them enjoy the wonders of cholesterol and denial on their own terms.

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 Post subject: Re: Help me not be a sanctimonious
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:43 am 
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Seagull of the PPK
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oh, and something else that made me really change my tune-- and it comes from some saint here, i forget who-

when challenged at the table about what you're eating, and why it's different from everyone else's....
"oh, i don't like to talk about this while we're eating. i'll be happy to talk to you about it later. [ask person something on another topic, about themselves.]"
defending your own choices while amongst the enemy never ends well (preachy vegans, shame at the table, disgusting statistics, etc), so nip it in the bud.

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 Post subject: Re: Help me not be a sanctimonious
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:06 am 
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I think I avoided the sanctimonious vegan phase (for the most part) because I changed my diet slowly. It didn't make sense to me to tell others off if I was imperfect myself. I also tried to remember that it was a challenging transition for the other people in my life, too - food is very social, after all, and I felt it was unfair to ask others around me to deal with it as the same speed as me, even though they hadn't gone through the same thought process. Maybe it would be a good idea to make a commitment not to discuss this topic until you have been vegan for a number of months?

Also, over the years, I have made a few rules for myself: not talk about my food choices at the table, not engage with aggressive debaters (if people are genuinely curious and want to learn, sure, but I'm not going to have an intellectual debate where you play the devil's advocate just for the sake of debating), not engage in a work/business context, not expect others to agree with my views over the course of a single conversation. It's mostly for my own preservation, really, so I don't burn out and end up socially isolated.


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 Post subject: Re: Help me not be a sanctimonious
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:05 am 
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Yeah, I am a huge fan of not being in someone's face about their choices. I hate it when friends ask me "is it okay with you if I order this burger?" because I don't want to see me as someone who is going to jump down their throats about eating meat. I've found that it is much more effective to quietly go about your veganism and when it inevitably comes up, definitely engage in conversation if people are genuinely interested, but otherwise just leave it alone. Some conversations are just not worth having.

My first exposure to a vegan was this total jerk. I was vegetarian (and a teenager) at the time, and my vegetarian friend and I vowed never to be vegan because we didn't want to turn out like him.


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 Post subject: Re: Help me not be a sanctimonious
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:11 pm 
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Not NOT A Furry
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IRL most people are polite and interested in my veganism from the food aspect, I'm a foodie, so we have interesting conversations, about new foods on the market, new foods I've tried since becoming vegan, and especially spices and teas because I have 80 kinds of each (including mixes). Many people also ask me for nutrition advices.

Almost a decade ago, one acquaintance, after hearing about my (then lacto-ovo) vegetarianism at his girlfriend's crepe (not the filter) party, told me: "All vegetarians who are that because of the animals should be put in concentration camps." I left. He tried to explain himself years later when I met him, something about irresponsible dog owners that made him say it, blah blah, but I just politely listened to him, politely left, and, luckily, haven't met him since.

One colleague once couldn't understand that I was not willing to try even one of the cakes his mother sent him. He kept asking me to try at least one. Some people can't understand it's about animals, not cholesterol. When I don't want to take something that is offered, I say: "Thank you as if I had taken it." so that the person offering it feels better. (It's common to say this here, not sure how it sounds in English, though.)

One friend had been teasing me about my eating and enjoying cevapcici (a type of kebab) before I went vegetarian (as if that means I'm not a true vegetarian). After a few years of teasing I told him I'd unfriend him if he didn't stop. He's behaved ever since, makes sure to buy me only vegan gifts etc.

One friend asked me if she's allowed to eat fish when dining with me. One colleague asked if I wanted him to move to another table with his meat pizza. I think they just wanted to be considerate, not that they felt threatened by me.


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 Post subject: Re: Help me not be a sanctimonious
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:19 pm 
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Speth, there is that old thing about how if you think you might be crazy you are healthier by definition than someone with similar symptoms who does not.

You are concerned about being obnoxious, so, while some people may go out of their way to make a problem ( like your brother ), you aren't going to become "one of those vegans"

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 Post subject: Re: Help me not be a sanctimonious
PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:14 pm 
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solipsistnation wrote:
What I usually tell people is that I don't care what they do, but I've made my own decisions, and it's none of their business.

The thing to remember is that whatever you decide to do, you probably aren't going to change anyone's mind by lecturing them, so if they ask stuff politely, answer politely, but if they give you a hard time, tell them that it's none of their damn business. Only tell them things if they ask sincerely. Otherwise, who cares?


This.

I'm an existentialist by nature, so the whole judgment thing isn't something I'm big on. One of my favorite quotes is "A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still..." so no wasting time on evangelism.

I do get a lot of questions from people who find out about my lifestyle, because many have pre-conceived notions about what "we" are supposed to look like (scrawny, malnourished hippies seems to be the going assumption). Since I don't fit that stereotype, some genuinely interested folks come to me.

Like lots of members already said, just chill. From my experience, being a "living proof" example of good health (& feeding people great food when the opportunity arises) goes much further to make an impression than preaching does.

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 Post subject: Re: Help me not be a sanctimonious
PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:34 pm 
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You don't sound like you're going to be an arse-hat, you're obviously a thoughtful and well-meaning person and I bet that comes across in the things you say and do. I don't think you would talk about people's corpse-dinner because you remember what it felt like having to listen to some other idiot doing it.

You've got all the reasons you decided to make this change fresh in your mind at the moment.

In the first few years after I went vegan, talking to my friends about the reasons for my decision prompted several of them to go vegetarian or vegan, and I believe the majority of those still are, many years later (apart from one wanker ex-boyfriend). That hasn't happened recently though, because I got tired of talking about it and going over the same things. If you want to talk about it, and you think you won't lose your cool, I don't think there's anything wrong with telling interested people why you made your decision (it does help to stress that it's the decision that you felt was right for you, that you're not judging anyone else or telling them how to live their lives).

There were certain topics I didn't really feel I could do justice to (bees is a good one. People find it really difficult to understand why I don't eat honey and act like I'm making a big fuss to be awkward) so for a while I had a few leaflets stashed in my bag from the vegan society that I'd give people if they gave me a hard time. Saved me from wasting my breath if they weren't really interested, and gave them further resources to look into if they were.

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Last edited by dropscone on Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Help me not be a sanctimonious
PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:36 pm 
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Bathes in Braggs

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If people are asking me questions about veganism as a means of harassing me or making me into the meal time entertainment I tell them that I am not a doctor, researcher or chef. If they are really interested I can write them down a list of books from all three.

That usually stops them cold.

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 Post subject: Re: Help me not be a sanctimonious
PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:43 pm 
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All really useful advice. I got involved in a ridiculous debate at our Xmas party last night and am kicking myself for engaging - blaming the free white wine! It started off about fur and went from there. In 20 years of being vegetarian / vegan have always managed to avoid heated animal rights debates - was thrown off guard as knew this guy used to be veggie and assumed he was still sympathetic. Turns out that ex-veggies are like ex-smokers, they are pretty passionate about the side they've chosen! Kept it civil but good advice above to just shut down provocative conversations as soon as possible - they're very tedious and not very festive.


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 Post subject: Re: Help me not be a sanctimonious
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 4:00 pm 
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Tofu Pup
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Ovine wrote:
Turns out that ex-veggies are like ex-smokers, they are pretty passionate about the side they've chosen! .


There's nothing like the converted! Which like someone has mentioned is probably the reason that I have been getting my back up a tiny bit.

Thanks for the advice guys. I'm doing my best to chill out on it all and hopefully me being conscious of it will mean I'll keep the arse-hattedness to a minimum. I was pretty proud when my brother emailed me a pile of studies regarding why meat is nutritious I just thanked him and sent him a couple of my own. There hasn't been much discussion since but there's always Christmas lunch!

I knew that transitioning would be hard from a food perspective but I didn't expect it to be a social challenge. I've had one friend be quite upset that I won't be able to go to her favourite restaurant with her anymore but I have to do what I believe.


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