The Social Aspects of Being Whole Food, Plant-Based

I live in an area that is known for its golf courses. For many, life centers around the game of golf, and social events will always find people avidly talking about their golf game. And I think that's great. People are talking about what interests them. And while I'm not a golfer, I will politely listen to conversations about golfing games. Sometimes, people will suggest that I take up golf.

However, not all topics work that way. For example, all I need to do is mention the fact that I'm a vegan, and many people either become defensive, hostile or they walk away. Sometimes, nothing needs to even be said. It can happen just by somebody observing the food choices that I make at a party or in a restaurant. And that will raise questions that will then result in either defensiveness, hostility or walking away. I think most of us who have been following a whole food, plant-based diet have been there.

It's like just the act of being whole food, plant-based is a taboo when out in public. Sometimes, I think the thought is that I can do what I want in the privacy of my own home, but  when out with others I need to not make them feel guilty or afraid. And that means eating like they do and not talking about how I eat.

I do make it a practice to not talk about how I eat unless asked a question that leads to it. While I know others might disagree with that approach, I've found that being aggressive in one on one communications only turns people off more. And that doesn't change anything in the end. But if people ask me questions about how I eat, I do answer those questions. And as long as they appear to be interested in what I have to say, I will speak about how I eat.

But that's the exception rather than the rule. I find most people want to believe that they already eat healthily. And they don't want to hear that they don't. Instead, what they want is confirmation that they do eat healthily. And if I fail to give them that confirmation, then they become angry or upset, even without me saying anything more about how I eat or what I think they should change in their diet. The socially correct thing to do, or should I say the politically correct thing to do, is to give them confirmation or approval for their diet. But doing so would be wrong too.

What I try to do, if somebody shows a potential interest, is to just describe the successes that I've seen in following a whole food, plant-based diet. That would be the weight that I've lost, the prescriptions I no longer take, the changes in energy level I've seen, the medical conditions that have changed, my numbers, etc. Those are the things that convince people and interest people. Then if they want to know how to get started, I will suggest that they watch Forks Over Knives and then maybe start with Dr. Barnard's 21-Day Kickstart Program.

But I also recognize that those are the exceptional social encounters. Most people would prefer the subject never come up. And that's how it's been throughout history. Most big movements and societal changes that we take for granted today have been resisted by the average person throughout history. I believe we are on the precipice of a large social movement that will result in significant changes in how we eat. And this movement is no different than other large movements. I believe change will happen and fifty years from now, people will look back on meat eating in much the same way that we look back on cigarette smoking now. It will be that way in 50 years because our current course is not sustainable. Not from a health perspective, not from an economic perspective and not from an environmental perspective. We are on the right side of history on this. And we just need to recognize that many people will not come along easily. But in the end, they will come along. It's never easy being at the front end of a significant social movement however. That's because it's never recognized as such by most people until the tide has fully turned. And then suddenly, everybody will be talking about how they always felt that way, it's just that....(you can fill in the blank).