Convincing meat consumers to change their eating choices requires some extraordinary tact if you want to do it correctly.
Eating just plant-based foods or veganism is healthier than an omnivorous or vegetarian diet. The reasoning behind the health benefits of a vegan diet is that the foods consumed consist of whole-plant foods that are minimally processed. Therefore, veganism requires more thought to prepare their choice of nutrition from their chosen sources of beans, nuts, seeds, fruit, and vegetables.
Unlike vegans, meat-eaters eat 94.8 pounds of meat annually on a global average; that number is rising. In some countries like the U.S. and Australia, the average jumps to 220 and 240 pounds. They also consume far more processed foods, including refined grains and sodium.
The executive director and co-founder of the Good Food Institute said in a 2019 TED Talk, “ … leading scientists released their results of a massive three-year study … and declared that meat production is destroying our planet and jeopardizing global health.”
Here are some ways to convince your meat-loving friend to give vegan foods a chance if pleading with them has proven to have no effect:
1. Get the Timing Right
Take the conversation away from the table. There is no way you can convince someone to stop eating meat between forkfuls of their meal. So instead of telling the person to start preparing their meals themselves or pleading with them to make a choice for you, use a more subtle approach, and never at the dinner table.
2. Transition into Meatless Meals
Starting with one meatless meal a week and gradually introducing it to every mealtime creates a routine. The logic behind this is that eventually, they transition into feeling comfortable with eating just plant-based foods. Of course, it takes time, but it may be well worth the effort.
3. Avoid Judging Them
Don’t become annoying by being judgemental because this creates defensiveness and resentment whenever you bring up the topic. Therefore, take your arguments away from an alienating moral reproach, and use more subtle ways, including pointing out your imperfections.
4. Focus Conversations on Yourself
Don’t concentrate your conversations on saying, “You must stop eating meat.” Instead, state why you decided to change to veganism or tell them about something delicious you prepared and that you are sure that you would enjoy it with you next time you make the dish.
5. Enhance Their Taste Sensation
When your friend joins you for a meal, offer them a meatless meal next to their food choice to try. You may be surprised that they like the option. Make meals more appealing by enhancing their umami, the complex and intensely flavorful sensation. Umami in the traditional diet appears in meat-based dishes. You can achieve it by adding deeper tastes to plant-based foods, making them appealing. These include soy sauce and other fermented liquids, mushrooms, toasted nuts, spices, herbs, tomatoes, and vegetable broth.
6. Appeal to Their Values
Everyone has a set of values, so appeal to these. You know your friend better than anyone, so perhaps how farmers raise their animals to yield the maximum amount of meat or genetic manipulation might be an excellent way to start your conversation. Widespread antibiotics used on farm animals to prevent massive deaths or the fact that most animals never see the sun because they live in sheds are points that appeal to some people with puritan and conservative values.
Then again, your friend may have environmental concerns, so share your thoughts about planet warming, deforestation, and water pollution caused by intensive animal farming practices.
7. Share Your Thoughts About the Changes Throughout the Food Industry
Meat companies worldwide are investing in producing cell-based meat that tastes the same but avoids the issues raised by traditional meat farming. As the technology improves, these will become more readily available. In addition, some fast-food outlets have changed their menus to become more inclusive of veganism and have meat-free and fish-free alternatives. These plant-based alternatives are still quite expensive, but increased demand will ensure they become cheaper in the future.
As a vegan, you strive to lead a more ethical and sustainable lifestyle that is healthier for you. Unfortunately, convincing a meat-loving friend to follow your example may prove complicated unless you approach the subject carefully. Demanding, pleading, cornering, or bribing them is highly unlikely to affect their choices than a more discreet approach would. Instead, try these tips above, and the likelihood of success increases considerably.