Many new vegans find that their biggest obstacle is facing their family and friends and the inevitable questions that will follow. Your friends and family may be totally supportive, lucky you. They may try to be supportive, but kind of fail. Or, they may outright attack your choices. The best thing you can do is to face this with kindness. One thing to keep in mind is that your friends and family are probably not in the same mental space as you, they are not ready to be vegan and may feel judged by you. They may also recall that you participated in a hot dog eating contest last summer and they will remind you of this...repeatedly.
When I first went vegan people I knew and loved would call me and say things like, "MMMMMMM I am eating a burger right now. It's soooo good." Sometimes, thinking they were funny, they'd say terribly hurtful things like, "I am eating a dead animal right now." Initially I felt outrage and that developed into hurt. Why couldn't the people I love most just understand how important this is to me? Why wouldn't they join in?
I shared the animal rights info with them, but often they were unresponsive or apathetic. I was seriously sad about it. Some friends would give it a go and then fizzle out. Also deeply disappointing. Ultimately I realized that we are all on our own paths, usually there is a moment or an even that leads us to veganism---but it takes time. I still hold out hope that my family and friends will join me when they are ready.
When I first went vegan I was working front desk of a dorm (I was in undergrad when I went vegan) and a few of the students who were acquaintances, learned that I was vegan and took it upon themselves to personally attack me and my decision. They'd stop by the front desk at 2am (I had night shift), after a few drinks, and lay it on thick. I think they thought they were funny or flirting or something. Who knows? I used it as an opportunity to educate myself and to firmly establish my own convictions. I thank those harassers for giving me the opportunity to try out my beliefs. It was through their scrutiny that I was able to firmly establish my convictions. While I hope you don't have to go through that I do encourage you to put your beliefs to the test.
First you need to take a close look at why you are going vegan. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What sparked my desire to become vegan?
- Was there one moment or did it happen over time?
- What was the process I took to veganism (gradual or all at once) and why did I take that path?
- What keeps you vegan?
- Why not give up when the alternative is so much easier?
Next you need to do your research so that you will be educated.
- I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked where I get my protein (omage3s, calcium, etc). So arm yourself with nutritional facts; it will help you to be healthy and you'll be able to answer those questions when they arise.
- Learn about how animals are used for food, clothes, drug testing, etc. When people ask what is wrong with free range eggs you will be more confident if you know the answer
- While I don't agree with everything PETA does I do think they have one of the most informative websites out there. Go and have a look around.
Look at your veganism as an extension of your personal beliefs, your faith, your morality. Once it becomes part of the goodness in you, you will be able to uphold it in the face of adversity. I found it helpful to look at animal rights in the same light as human rights issues. There was a time when humans were treated as terribly as we are now treating animals. Through the efforts of loving people great change was made and I feel tremendous hope that we are on that path now.