Like any lifestyle change, your decision to begin eating a healthier diet may lead to some difficult or uncomfortable situations. Learning how to explain your dietary choice to others in a non-confrontational manner will help other people in your life adapt to your new eating habits. Since almost every social event involves food, there will inevitably be situations where your diet becomes the topic of conversation, curiosity, or confusion.

Many of the stories from our Veggie Challenge mention social situations and diplomacy.

“I’m a vegetarian, Maria. Can you make it without meat?” I waited, nervous for her reply. “Good for you!” my Aunt said, “I didn’t want to eat meat no more anyways. We’ll have meatless pasta!” I was shocked. The woman I figured would understand my choice least, wound up being more supportive than I could’ve imagined.

– Allison, 20’s, from vegetarian to mostly vegan

Vegetarian diplomacy

Becoming vegetarian, you might expect, would have people applauding your selfless contribution to global ecology, but instead it often makes them uncomfortable. This discomfort may not be all bad; it could get people thinking more carefully about their own food choices. But then again, you’d probably rather be laughing with the people you care about than causing them discomfort.
• Sections from Chapter 11 of Becoming Vegetarian, including six ways to get along with meat-eaters:

The social vegetarian has a website all about going vegetarian, including: The Social Vegetarian – Connecting with Meat-Eaters and Others at Work and at Play. This article includes: “Explaining yourself even though you shouldn’t have to” and “Dining gracefully with meat-eaters”. Other articles include “Being a great, meat-free hostess” and “Meat and the vegetarian single“.

Surviving holiday dinner

There are ways to make everyone feel comfortable and well-fed when you are planning a festive meal for your vegetarian and non-vegetarian guests.
[Full story and recipe links]

Book Living Among Meat Eaters : The Vegetarian’s Survival Handbook
Aug 25 2003 by Carol J. Adams
Rating ****
Adams first asks, “Are you at peace?” because vegetarians who are insecure in their choice represent meat eaters’ worst fear: that vegetarianism equals denial and scarcity. Once vegetarians know that the insecurity is not from within, they can see the verbal abuse and emotional blackmail as a sign of the meat eaters’ insecurity. Then Adams lists various techniques, from deflecting sabotage to identifying subtext (“If you loved me you’d eat this meat”).

Amazon customers say: “…extremely helpful. Her methods of dealing with meat-eaters are effective.“ “A very practical guide … ranging from fitting in during summer barbecues or thanksgiving dinner; to living with non-vegetarian roommates, family, or significant others; to fifty delicious vegetarian recipes.” “This book focuses on people who are vegetarians because of their strong animal rights convictions.”
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