You’ve decided to embark on an adventure into plant based eating that will set you apart from most of your friends and family members in social situations that involve food, SO… do you tell everyone about your new found plan to improve your health or keep it to yourself?
I imagine you may have guessed my opinion since I have a blog devoted to sharing the joys of plant based eating with others, but not everyone is comfortable sharing their diet and lifestyle with others. If you do decide to share, be prepared that everyone will suddenly become an expert in nutrition, offering you advice about how you will not get enough nutrients and protein if you eliminate dairy and meat from your diet. Others will try to coax you to have “just a little” of whatever they are eating that you have chosen not to eat. Many will think you have lost your mind and have become a crazy vegan hippie. I tend not to argue with folks who are befuddled and confused by my choice since I had little to no understanding of this way of eating before I watched Forks over Knives. I try to share in a positive way that this is working for me and my MD has sanctioned my choice and is excited about the benefits I have seen so far. I also let them know I am glad to share if they want to learn more.
For some, sharing can be too stressful and cause too much attention and grief. However, I have found it has been freeing for us to let family and friends know how we eat and that we don’t expect them to cater to our special needs at events. We are glad to bring food to share with everyone at parties and gatherings and people now have accepted that this is the way we eat and don’t try to talk us into eating things we no longer choose to eat.
If you would rather keep your choices quiet at first, you may need to eat before going to gatherings where food is served and then take your chances with whatever is served and hope there is something that will fit into your food plan to snack on. This way, you won’t show up so hungry that you feel you must eat whatever is served to keep from fainting before you drive home! You can always make the excuse that you have changed your diet for health reasons and are not partaking in the usual fare but came because you really enjoy the company!
Some people may even become angry that you have improved your diet. They may feel threatened without even being consciously aware of it as you are threatening their status in “the village” by having the information you have about getting healthy. They may try to coax you to go off plan and will be pleased when you have that chicken wing or cheese and crackers. It will level the playing field for them. Doug Lisle, PhD is a psychologist, director of research at True North Health center, and co author of The Pleasure Trap. He is a fabulous speaker and in his talk, “Getting along without going along,” he addresses these issues of how to navigate social situations gently without making others feel bad. He often responds to people’s questions about how he gets his protein by saying he’s not sure and if he is questioned further, he tells people it seems to be working for him and his MD checks his levels and they seem to be fine. It diffuses the situation and often relaxes people so they are open to ask questions and learn more.
Lastly, you will find that as you begin to experience the wonderful benefits of plant based eating, people may start to ask you what you’re doing to achieve this fabulous glow, how you have lost weight, or where you get your energy. Be prepared to share!
Here is a great and very brief video from Dr. John McDougall about spreading the good news. I totally agree that with him that 9 out of 10 people will think you’re from outerspace, but it will be worth it for that one person whose life you may change by sharing the “good news.”
What’s your style? Are you plant shy or plant proud?