A raw food vegan diet sounds extreme to a lot of people for obvious reasons. We are surrounded by chicken, beef, yogurt, cheese, butter, milk chocolate, latte, muffins, ice cream, cheesecakes, etc, every day. Eating meat and dairy in western society has become so “natural” that eating a chicken and cheese sandwich for lunch is considered more “normal” and “natural” than eating apples and oranges.
However, as more people become food conscious, raw vegan diets are gaining more fans and followers. When a person is convinced that a raw vegan diet is the healthiest and the best way of eating, he or she, (let’s call them Phil and Susan), usually get very passionate about it. Like a superhero, they want to tell the rest of the world that fruit and veggies is the cure to all diseases, pollution, starvation and unhappiness in the world.
Phil and Susan feel the urge to convert their steak-loving friends into banana munchers. They feel that they are doing their friends a huge favor. Saving them from heart disease, cancer, depression and being overweight. They actually become so passionate that their friends see their passion as aggression. Their friends and relatives think that humans need to consume meat for protein, milk for calcium, yogurt for a good digestion and cheese for a beautiful smile. They don’t want to listen to Phil’s and Susan’s claims and facts about how raw food could solve many of their problems. “This crazy diet is too extreme.” They wouldn’t be able to live without bacon and cheese.
Rumor has is that Phil occasionally has some sausage and scrambled eggs, and Susan secretly drinks coffee and eats cookies. We don’t know if it’s true. Could be just a rumor…
When Phil’s and Susan’s friends and relatives think that a raw vegan diet is just a joke and unhealthy (“well, you must eat meat to be strong and tough!”), they turn to their vegan friends and say “I need to convince them that eating raw is the best diet! I need to prove that I am right!”.
So this is what I would say to dear Phil and Susan: “Do you really need to convince others?”
Facts and claims about others’ bad habits usually make people defensive and have the opposite effect, don’t they?
Just be a shining example. Be confident about your food-style. Most importantly, try to understand where they are coming from – why do they have these beliefs?
First of all, accept the fact that your friends’ understanding of a healthy diet is different than yours. Don’t fight it. Accept that this is how it is – that they think differently. Your frustration and persistence only makes them more determined to force their beliefs on you. When you become relaxed and accepting, they will be more likely to listen to you.
Don’t explain or rattle off any facts or theories. Just ask them “How do you know eating meat and dairy is the best diet for your health?” They might say they had read it somewhere or listened to some doctor. Then ask “How do you know that doctor (or other expert) was right?”. “Are all the doctors in the world right?”, “If so, what about doctors that say a raw vegan diet is best for your health? Are they also right?”, “If not, how do you know which doctors (or experts) are right and which ones are wrong?” “Why do you choose to believe in the ones that say a lot of protein is right?” “Could it be that your personal preferences affect your beliefs?” “Is your research comprehensive?” “How many hours/days/ & years did you spend researching the topic?” And so on… If you do it right, the respondent will go silent.
It will only work if you stay very calm, pleasant, and genuinely interested in their answers. I know, it can be tricky with your parents and other close family members. They are usually the ones that have an ability to make you lose control So stay very present. When people want to prove their point and are very passionate about the subject, they tend to think only about what they are going to say next, rather than actually listening. This kind of conversation will only lead to confrontation. If you want to be understood, always seek to understand first.
Don’t try to be right and win the argument. Winning an argument is almost impossible (even if you think you are right, another person won’t) and even if you did win it, would that really make your opponent healthier or make you a better person? Could it be that your ego is willing to be right and make others wrong?
Finally, why do you need approval? Do you think that by convincing others, you will actually convince yourself?
My mom used to say “What you haven’t done, you tend to compensate with talking”. Could it be that Phil or Susan feel that by talking a lot about the benefits of raw food they would make up for eating sausage or cookies?