Picture this: Your friend just invited you to celebrate a work promotion. He mentions he has invited everyone. You're excited to hear from him and look forward to meeting all those friends you've not had a chance to meet recently. Just then, you happen to glance at the venue. Uh-oh. It's a steakhouse with nothing vegan on the menu. What do you do?
Here are some tips on how you can handle such situations.
Eating out with friends
Vegans: Prepare ahead and figure out what options you have. You could suggest eateries that offer vegan options or call the restaurant that everyone is planning to visit to see if they would be willing to change their existing dishes to a veganized one. Most restaurants would be willing to accommodate your request and may even suggest which of their dishes would work best with the vegan diet.
Non-vegans: If you know someone who's vegan, check if they'd be able to have a meal at the place you plan to visit. You don't have to restrict yourself as most places (whether they realize it or not) are bound to have dishes that are vegan or can be veganized: Yes, even steakhouses and your favorite pizza place.
Throwing a dinner party
Vegans visiting non-vegans: Call ahead to say, “Hey! Thank you so much for your invite. I'd love to catch up with you! I should mention that I'm a vegan, but don't worry on my account. I'll bring along some vegan food. I hope that's ok!”.
Vegans visiting family who isn't accepting of their food choices: Try engaging your family in constructive dialogue or a healthy debate. Non-supportive families can be hard to deal with, but remember, their resistance probably stems from their concern for you or a lack of understanding of the plant-based diet. Here's a tip - check out Earthling Ed's free e-book that'll equip you with the knowledge and answers to the most common arguments against veganism.
If you're inviting a vegan: While planning the menu, be sure to include some vegan dishes; your guests will appreciate the thoughtful gesture. If you think about it, most foods are vegan by default, and you'll probably find a vegan substitute for any classic non-vegan dish online. Check out this article for inspiration.
Gifting a vegan: The keyword is research - everyone loves thoughtful gifts! abillion has a large catalog of vegan and environmentally-friendly products that you can browse for ideas. You can also purchase your gift from retailers that offer vegan products. If all else fails, simply ask your friend what they'd like!
Receiving non-vegan gifts: As a vegan, receiving a non-vegan gift can be awkward. If you know the individual personally and you're on good terms with them, thank them before explaining that while you may not be able to use the gift due to your personal beliefs, you appreciate the effort. However, if you feel like there's a possibility of offending the gift giver or if the circumstances are such where refusing is not an option, you can accept the gift and simply donate or pass it on to someone who may use it.
Conversations on diets
For vegans: Conversations centered around diet are bound to happen and saying that you're vegan isn't as easy as saying, “I have allergies”. If such conversations do come up, explain your reasons for choosing this lifestyle without attacking or being condescending to others. If you're feeling uncomfortable, crack a joke! Nothing diffuses a heated confrontation better than humor. If you feel like one of you is becoming aggressive or defensive, and that the conversation is going nowhere, politely excuse yourself from the conversation or make an effort to change the topic.
For non-vegans: Understand that people make decisions based on their values. Ask questions and engage with your vegan friend - they'd be more than happy to share more about their lifestyle with you!