My name is Sam Iles and I am a passionate vegan and I’m delighted to be able to guest post on VeganCooking.com! I want to talk to you about talking to non-vegans. It’s one of the most effective things you can do for veganism. In the word’s of Martin Luther King: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
I agree with him, but talking to non-vegans can be hard. We’re often accused of being preachy and thinking we’re better than everyone else, which for most vegans just isn’t true. We want to help people, but in our passion we often come across as judgmental.
I think that the best way to talk to non-vegans is utilizing something that sales and marketing people use a lot (probably without you even knowing it): the Socratic Method. This technique, developed by Socrates, is a form of debate that aims to stimulate critical thinking in your ‘opponent’ by asking them questions. This really works well with the veganism debate.
For example, when someone asks you why you’re vegan you have two options. You can launch into a seven hour lecture telling them how terrible they are and why they must become vegan right now. Or, you can simply ask them “Well, why DO you eat meat?” Suddenly, they’re confronted with a question that they’ve probably never thought about before. They take a few seconds and say something like “Well, it’s great for your health”. Us vegans know this is wrong. You can then politely and shortly explain that it actually isn’t better for your heath and they will then ask: “Why is meat bad for you?”
If you keep going like this, inspiring questions in them and answering politely without being patronizing, you won’t seem preachy or arrogant: they leave feeling like they’ve been helped by you. Your ultimate goal might be to get them to be vegan, but you’re not going to do that in a single conversation. If you simply teach someone a little and clear up some of their misconceptions so that the next time they meet a vegan they can have a longer discussion with them and move one step closer to veganism then that surely that is a fantastic victory.