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.