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Dining With Friends and Family

Dining with meat-eating friends or family members is a great opportunity to introduce the people you care about to delicious vegetarian food and to explain the reasons you decided to switch to a healthy, humane diet.

If you’re going to be having a meal with family or friends who eat meat, discuss the menu ahead of time. Offer to make a vegetarian dish or two for everyone to try. If someone else is doing all the cooking, offer to help find easy vegetarian recipes and to go grocery shopping with him or her before the meal.

When going out to eat with family or friends, discuss ahead of time where you are going. Look up vegetarian-friendly restaurants in your area, and suggest some options. Calling a restaurant before you go is a great way to find out if the restaurant has good vegetarian options (or is willing to make them).

If family members or friends ask about your new diet, simply say something like, “I decided that I didn’t want to support cruelty to animals. I did a lot of research into how animals are treated in factory farms and slaughterhouses, and I decided that I don’t want to pay for it. The fact that vegetarians are slimmer and have more energy than meat-eaters is a nice bonus too.”

If other people seem annoyed at the conversation, you can add, “I’m sorry. I don’t think that everybody wants to discuss this now, but I’d be happy to chat with you more after dinner.” If other people are interested, keep talking about it—this is a great chance to talk about the benefits of going vegetarian!

If Uncle Fred starts making silly comments about your switch to a vegetarian diet, remember to be patient and friendly and keep your sense of humor, even if his jokes aren’t very funny. Because the goal of being vegetarian is to help animals and become healthier, you want to encourage others to think about switching to a vegetarian diet, too, and coming across as snappy or defensive is never an effective way to do that.

Remember that almost everyone who is vegetarian now once ate meat, and when people are antagonistic toward vegetarians, it’s often because they feel guilty. So remember to smile, laugh off jokes, and be ready to discuss why you made the switch to a healthy, compassionate diet.

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  • tundraleigh says:

    So I’m a life-long vegetarian who would really like to go wholly vegan, primarily for health and environmental reasons. My husband is a meat and potatoes guy and although he accepts it, I know it annoys him that I am a vegetarian and that I don’t know how to cook meat, especially if we go out to eat and we can’t eat at a restaurant he wants to try bc they don’t have any options for me, or when he cooks and has to make double meals – meat for him, vegetarian for me. We both work full time jobs, commute over an hour a day and we have a two-year old, so we are ALWAYS strapped for time. We are also on a very tight budget and concerned with health so we tend to stay away from processed foods and prefer rather to cook from scratch. Finally, we are both “foodies” in that we want local, organic and fresh food, we are adventurous in our eating and we favor quality over anything else. Oh, also our toddler is a picky eater who likes everything “plain”, without much spice or mixed in veggies. Everything for her has to be separate (i.e. she’ll eat pizza and she’ll eat spinach but if you put spinach on her pizza she won’t eat it). Oh gosh, one more really really important factor: my husband has Crohn’s disease and cannot eat anything with soy or any soy derivatives in it – it causes him excruciating pain.

    I am looking for advice – I want to go vegan, in a very healthy way (raw food would be even better but the time commmitment for raw food is just not doable with all of my other time constraints), but I’m not sure how I can find the time to cook three meals – one that has no soy and is somewhat traditional for my husband, one that is “plain” for my daughter and something vegan for me (I love veggies, herbs and spices in my food) – I barely manage to cook one. It’s not just the cooking time – I won’t go into the back story for time’s sake but we don’t have a dishwasher and can’t install one where we live, and so I have to consider that extra cooking is not only the extra time spent in cooking but also all of the time to do the extra dishes generated by creating multiple meals in multiple pots and pans. I am not sure I can afford to purchase a slew of new products and still keep all of the existing stuff that the rest of my family eats. I can’t save money by replacing one for the other because we all have dietary restrictions (for instance my husband eats meat and can’t do soy [beans are hard for him to because of the Crohn's disease - even too many veggies are hard on his system], so I can’t replace mayo with nayonnaise or milk with soymilk – I would have to buy both).

    I really want to make the transition but every time I think about it logistically I feel overwhelmed before I even begin. We’re already stretched so thin, both time- and finance-wise. Looking for any advice, especially for anyone who has had a similar experience. It would really be appreciated.

    Oh – PS we have a big garden in the summer months and grow lots of fresh organic veggies ourselves, but we live on the Canadian border so our growing season is only 4-5 months. The rest of the year we are dependent on purchasing food.

  • dontpassthebacon says:

    I am wanting to become a vegetarian, possibly even a vegan after watching this video. I tried the vegetarian thing for a month because I thought it would help me lose weight or make me feel better about a year ago, and when neither really happened (I live a healthier lifestyle anyway) I didn’t really think it was worth the effort. Now, however, I am seriously considering making the pledge. I had no idea this is how the conditions are that the animals lived in and how they are treated and slaughtered . . . so disturbing! . . . the only problem I’m having now is seeing how everybody on here is saying how “easy” it is for them . . . I seriously think this is NOT going to be so easy of a transition for me, as I have to travel a lot for work, it seems very inconvenient, and I dont really know how to build meals around anything but meat. I live in the south and people loooove meat around here, and don’t necessarily embrace eating healthy as a culture . . . in fact, you should fry it up and then slap some butter on it! Just wondering if I’m the only one who thinks this is challenging!!!

  • Edana says:

    This comment is for Zey: First off, your English is amazing (I’d hate to have to communicate in your language! :) and second, good for you for taking a stand! My understanding is that Turkey is becoming a very cosmopolitan place and hot travel destination; people like you help make it a better place for people AND animals.

  • MB says:

    This section helped me alot also. I was never aware of how animals get treated at these places…and after joining PETA and watching some of these videos I dont even want to touch meat. I am married to a man who loves meat and I have given up a few items one at a time, but I just dont think he understands the passion I have for animals. How do I go about bridging the gap between me and my husband when cooking and eating together is a big part of our lives?

  • Lauren says:

    I too thought it would be a difficult transition, after eating meat for 18 years, but instead of thinking of it as being a life-long decision, I took it one day at a time. Now, over a year later, I couldn’t imagine going back and am happy with my choice! Good luck everyone!

  • Zey says:

    I’ve always wanted to be a vegan but I live in Turkey and people here just don’t get it. I’ve been searching about veganism and reading people who are vegan. I’m a vegan for like a week now. And all of the comments have been awful so far. Even my brother and father think that I’m an idiot and eventually eat meat anyway. But I now truly believe that meat is murder. Like once George Bernard Shaw said “Animals are my friends… and I don’t eat my friends.” My mother is the only person who’s supporrting me and even thinking of becoming a vegan. I’ve never thought it’d be so easy to become a vegan but it is, and I am enjoying the every second of it. I am satisfied with who I am now and have never felt better in my life. People usually don’t understand that it’s not only an eating habit but also a life style. And it is very nice to be heard in a safe place where people understand you. Becoming a vegan has been the best decision I’ve made so far.
    PS: Excuse my english btw, I’m still learning :)

  • Aspire101 says:

    Kristen-
    I was like you. I had been eating meat for nearly 25 years and I went vegetarian about 4 months ago and have never looked backed. In my case I’ve had more positive comments and questions then discouragement. Just keep your head up and remember why you chose life lifestyle.

  • Keira says:

    I have been vego for about 6 months now, and I am enjoying the comments coming from my friends and family. “Grow up” “Get over it” are some of the best I have heard. It really suprises me that some people just don’t understand it. I have also had numerous occasions of dinners and lunches where no vego friendly items are on the menu, when I have reminded them and so on! I am very happy for those who support me and have joined the cause to stop animal crulety!

  • Kristen says:

    I am so glad that I read this section. I have been considering becoming vegetarian for a year now, but I am always set back by funny looks and rude comments. Reading this gives me helpful insight and words of wisdom for those who simply do not understand my decision. I know it will not be easy for me considering I have eaten meat for all of my 23 years, however, I think I am finally ready to make that plunge. Thanks to these wonderful articles, I feel like “slipping” will become less and less frequent :)

  • AC says:

    I have very very recently made the switch and so far I have been shown nothing but support from my friends and some family members. Growing up in a Mexican household really takes its toll, though, because I face nasty comments and negativity from my more traditional family members. I just simply tell them, “it’s ok, these are just my personal opinions and values. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.”

  • Kalixan says:

    Take over the cooking. If you cook it and it smells terrific, they will eventually try it. My family went vegan for a week and didn’t know it! Start slow, make sure it smells good and DON’T push it. They will eventually get curious. Try not to gloat when they like stuff. Bring a dish to pass if you go to friends’ houses. Don’t even mention it’s vegan unless someone asks.

  • Marie says:

    This would be a great guide for dining with friends and family if it even remotely touched on “how to deal with your meat-eating immediate family”. Sure, when Uncle Fred says something, its easy to deal with. Smile and nod, maybe even chuckle a bit. But how are you supposed to keep smiling and being patient when it’s your own parents, siblings, significant other who are making the comments?

  • lmurray says:

    On problem of eating with family/friends is, they dont understand vegan.. ie: they think cheese, eggs, milk is okay in recipes, or that vegan is a vegetable egg roll fried in lard, or crackers are okay when they contain chicken fat. :( I’m left ingesting something that I find out later isn’t 100% vegan or starving and not having fun with the group.

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