Ten communication tips for new (and other) vegans

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It is important to advocate for what we believe in. It is valuable to influence other people so that they follow our example. Sometimes, however, we can be just a bit *too* passionate in our drive to get more people on board. Especially newly minted vegans are sometimes prone to advocate 24/7, often in ways that are not entirely productive. Here are a few tips for avoiding what is sometimes called “new veganitis” and to be good at vegan advocacy from the get-go!
vegan advocacy
1. Remain open-minded
You stopped eating animal products, but please don’t stop thinking. Our movement hasn’t figured everything out. We can still improve, get more knowledgeable, more wise, and more effective. Know that being vegan is not an end-point, and that you can and should and will grow and evolve further.

2. Don’t let your emotions blind you
I get it: you discovered the truth about what happens to animals, stopped eating animal products, and are now pretty angry that all this abuse is just continuing. How can others not conclude what you are concluding? If you get impatient with them, realize that your own conversion was probably not overnight: what finally prompted you to go vegan was probably just the last incident or piece of information in a whole series over many years.

3. Be modest
You just got here. Though it’s no guarantee that they have grown wiser or better, longer time vegans have more experience with navigating a non-vegan world and talking to people about it. Maybe they’ve become softer and more nuanced. But don’t judge them right away: that doesn’t  make them traitors.

4. Remember that veganism is not an end in itself
Being vegan is about reducing suffering. Always keep that underlying goal in mind. Judge what you do not by the answer to “is it vegan?” but by “does this reduce suffering?”

5. Seek out like-minded people…
Being part of an online or offline vegan community can help a lot, especially in the beginning. Get support from others, get answers to your questions, and relax in the presence of people to whom you don’t have to defend your lifestyle, or who you don’t have to convince of anything.

6. … But also break out of the bubble
Though being in a vegan community can be a great help, there is also the danger of ending up in an echo chamber. Keep talking to people who are not where you are. Not just to influence them, but to understand them and to learn from them.

7. Don’t exaggerate vegan claims
Some advocates like to tell others that veganism will solve all the world’s problems. Don’t buy it. It’s a great thing to do on so many levels, but it’s not a panacea. Exaggeration will not help our cause and will only make the less gullible more sceptical.

8. Don’t try to be perfect
If you’re 99% vegan, you’re vegan (at least in my eyes). You can strive for 100 or even 110%, but there’s little extra benefit (and it may even be counterproductive). Don’t feel guilty if you don’t make the 100%, and if you do make it, don’t look down on those who don’t.

9. Be food-focused
Arguments and discussions have their limits. Especially moral arguments can cause a lot of resistance. Food is a great way to influence others in a non-threatening way. Take people to a restaurant, cook for them, give them samples… Strive to give them great vegan taste experiences and the rest will be so much easier.

10. Be friendly and positive
Anger, frustration and impatience will only alienate others and keep them at a distance. Be nice and relatable. It’s better for you, and better for them. Believe in people, believe that most of them basically care. And have some faith that everyone is able to see the light.

Want to learn more about vegan advocacy? Check out my book How to Create a Vegan World

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