One of the most surprising things I have realized since transitioning to a plant based diet is how others have reacted. I figured people would not give much thought to it. However, this has not been the case in many instances. In my personal experience, people are quick to rush to judgement. In some cases, they will bash what you eat and try to make their case for why a plant based diet is inferior to what they eat.
I am honestly surprised by some of the reactions people have when they find out I eat a plant based diet. Why is it such a big deal? Why are you trying to convince me that what I eat is bad? How does what I eat have any effect on you? Those are some of the questions that have been flowing thorough my mind for about the past month.
When you try something different, people tend to form opinions on your actions. Even with something as simple as a diet change. People become defensive about how they do things and don’t like it when they see someone else being different. I believe this is why so many people have commented on what I eat. They see me diverging from the norm and it bothers them. Initially I was irritated by what other people said and thought about my diet. However, I have come up with ways that have helped me deal with the constant comments and opinions I tend to hear. These steps have helped significantly. I want to share them with you. If you are struggling with the negativity from others, hopefully these steps will clear your mind and allow you to stop worrying about what others think.
The first step is to avoid arguing. I was guilty of this early on. People would ask me all kinds of crazy questions. They would also make ridiculous claims about why I should be eating meat and animal products. These claims would have no scientific backing what so ever. I would try to argue with them using facts and research I have read about in the books I mentioned in a previous post. I am by no means an expert on the topic of nutrition, but I would attempt to at least use some kind of scientific data to prove my points. This argument would always fall on deaf ears.
A majority of the time, people simply aren’t educated on nutrition. They typically don’t want to spend the time to learn more about it either. I would ask people to give it a chance and read a couple of books about the benefits of a plant based diet. The typical response to my request would be “I don’t have time for that”. That’s totally understandable, but it also means there is no point in arguing. You will not change people’s mind if they don’t want it to be changed. Attempting to argue and prove your point will not accomplish anything.
Now, if someone wants to debate with me about diet, I ask them to read and learn a little more about the topic. If they do not want to, I don’t engage. It has become pretty simple. More importantly, I have saved a lot of time. Save yourself the time and energy and avoid trying to sway other’s opinions.
Let It Slide
The second step is to simply let comments and opinions of others go through one ear and out the other. Do not take these things too seriously. This can be more difficult than it sounds. I tend to care too much about what other’s think of me so initially this was hard. When people said something about my diet or joked about it, I would internalize it. I would try and analyze what they said and it would stick around in my mind. Finally, I realized doing so is dumb and does not accomplish anything. Who cares what someone else thinks? You switched to a plant based diet for a reason (a great reason for sure) and what others think about it has no effect on you at the end of the day.
Now if someone comments or jokes about what I eat, I just smile and nod. If the comment is something like “Why would you stop eating meat” or “your crazy for not eating meat” I keep my responses simple. I usually respond with something along the lines of “it has worked for me so far” or “I just prefer not to eat animal products”. Simple responses usually end the conversation topic of diet. Most importantly, I don’t let words or opinions have any effect on me.
The final step is to spend time reflecting on your goals and beliefs. It is important to come back to why you decided to make the change in the first place. If you lost sight of why you are doing something, it can become difficult to stick with it. This step also makes the previous step a lot easier. When dealing with others and their occasional negativity, reflecting on why you you do what you do will help push you through.
I personally use mediation for my personal reflection. I find that relaxing the mind and clearing all of the noise and stress from the day helps tremendously. It only takes 10 minutes out of my time, but it sets me up for success and clarity for the rest of the day. There are other effective ways to reflect on your choices as well. Just writing down why you chose to eat a plant based diet and coming back to that why statement a couple times a weeks is extremely effective.
Talking to someone close to you is also a great way to reset your mind and re-energize you. Communicating what has bothered you and talking about how other people’s opinions and comments has affected you will make you instantly feel better. Simply vocalizing your problems will solve them in a lot of cases.
Following these steps will help you overcome negativity and heckling from others. These steps will allow you to stop worrying about what others think and reaffirm your reasoning for making the switch to a plant based diet.