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For many, a lack of knowledge is the primary barrier to becoming vegan or vegetarian. Some understand the issues however, but struggle to commit to a specific diet or lifestyle due to a lack of willpower, lack of convenient options, etc.

How can commitment be encouraged in people who are changing their diet or lifestyle?

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There are so many different ways to help encourage sticking to veganism, but I'm going to focus on a few that I find to be the most successful to stress. (Age group from 20-30).

  1. Cooking
  2. Feels Good
  3. Debunk the Myths
  4. Tips & Tricks

Cooking

Almost everyone I have met who has made a quirk about veganism stresses how much they couldn't go without specific meals that they savor and love. The importance of cooking your own meals might sound scary, but veganism offers so many opportunities to experience with new and unfamiliar products. Cooking is empowering, exciting, and more often than not leads to a tasty meal that you and your friends / family may enjoy. When I started, I rarely cooked and ate whatever I could find. Cooking is now one of my passions and I love nothing more than the watching the faces of my omnivorous friends as they take a bite into a "bacon cheeseburger" and struggle to hand the burger back to me.

Specifically, I stress the need to recreate your favorite dishes without the animal products they once required. If spinach lasagna is your favorite, make spinach lasagna! If you're craving scrambled eggs, grab a block of tofu and some veggies and see what you can come up with. It's an exciting adventure and can really help encourage those attempting vegan to stay motivated.

On top of this, the introduction to a new culinary world is thrilling. I'm sure your typical omnivore doesn't know that adding kala namak to your tofu can make it smell like eggs, or that oyster mushrooms can replace clams in a chowder!


Feels Good

As silly as this topic sounds, people take feeling good for granted. When eating a (balanced) plant based diet, there is no doubt that you start to feel good. It only took me a week to realize that I didn't need to feel awful after every meal. There was nothing wrong with me, I just needed to stop putting unfriendly food into my stomach.

This change in feeling should be emphasized as much as possible. They are already interested in living a plant based lifestyle, they just need more encouragement. Remembering that if they stick with it they will feel better is important. The light at the end of the tunnel is actually a pleasant feeling of content.

The simple fact that no animals were harmed in the making of your dinner is often enough to keep you committed.


Debunking the Myths

There are so many myths surrounding veganism that give it a bad name and evoke fear in the minds of the curious.

  • Where do you get your protein / iron / random vitamin no one else seems to ever worry about?
  • Milk is required to build strong bones, you have to drink it.
  • Tofu is gross!

Debunk these myths! Tell them that there is so much protein in a plant based diet that you don't need supplements. Tell them that milk is meant for baby cows and not baby humans and is linked to many health issues (source). Give them a piece of tofu you cooked that changes their mind!


Tips & Tricks

After being vegan for a long time, you learn so many tips and tricks that help make things easier. I wish I knew when I started that if there is any amount of cholesterol in the nutritional information that it wasn't vegan and I didn't need to spend any time reading through the unpronounceable list of ingredients.

Tell them how to order vegan at their favorite restaurants (or any restaurant), and that they can eat pretty much anywhere. Tell them what mock meats and cheeses taste the best, and how to make that block of tofu you cooked for them earlier. Tell them that nutritional yeast makes everything taste better. (subjective!) Tell them that anything you can imagine, you can make vegan!

It's all about a positive attitude. Everyone can do it!

  • 1
    The myths part is probably the most crucial of these. The number of people I've met who over-estimate the importance of protein and assume vegitarians/vegans have no source of protein is astounding. – Pharap Mar 23 '17 at 23:44
  • I'm not sure your "Feels good" is universally applicable. I noticed no change when I went vegan; and a friend of mine was vegan for a month and had awful digestive issues. – xorsyst Mar 29 '17 at 16:58
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I think for many people veganism seems overly strict and rather intimidating.

For myself, and I think many conflicted omnivores, there is almost a barrier to entry. Things like:

  • Finding vegan food everywhere you go will be difficult.

  • Ordering at restaurants is difficult because you have to ensure everything is vegan.

  • Having to turn down a meal your family or friends prepared because it has meat feels awful.

Are all issues that made me avoid veganism for the longest time (I'm still not a devout vegan).

I believe there is also a perception of judgment from vegans.

"Oh you just ate vegetable soup with chicken broth, don't you dare call yourself a vegan"

I always had the feeling, "Well there is no way I can completely avoid animal products, so I can't be a vegan so I might as well keep eating meat"


So to answer your question: Minimize the barriers to entry.

And I think that can be accomplished just by being more tolerant, and not having this black and white label of "vegan" and "heartless carnivore".

5 people being completely vegan makes some difference.

100 people eating considerably less animal products makes a larger difference.

I know this answer is riddled with personal opinion, but its all from my perspective as hardcore meateater turned vegan/vegetarian/plant-based/whatever-you-want-to-call-it

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Be flexible.

Argue or accept that it's "better" to be partially- or mostly-vegetarian than non-vegetarian.

There are reasons why it's sometimes difficult to be vegetarian:

  • Eat at a restaurant (in some countries whose restaurants don't support vegetarians)
  • Eating in someone else's home as their guest

These are also times when a vegetarian's "demands" and "abnormality" can trouble others (or put others to extra trouble).

For some people these barriers are too high: higher than is worthwhile. It may be better if these people be permitted to be "flexitarian".

Some examples of a flexitarian habit could include, off the top of my head:

  • Vegetarian when eating alone, but share what other people are having when eating with others
  • Vegetarian when eating alone, but ask for an omelette when at a restaurant
  • Have fish when there's no other choice (e.g. on 10 occasions in 20 years)
  • Have vegetable soup without causing a scene about what kind of stock it might be made from

Also (optionally) be cool about it. If you go around lecturing people, if you come across as weird or pushy, that might not be seen as a good advertisement for your social group (i.e. for vegetarians). I'm sorry to say that, about what may be a passionately-held conviction of yours (and/or mine) ... but!

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I want to say don't try but if that seems too passive them Show them how it will benefit them.

At the end of the day most of the people who want to become vegan/vegetarian/whatever for solid reasons have either already done so or not had that particular thought process 'sparked' yet.

If the former, job done, put the kettle on.

If not, they'll have to come to it in their own time, if someone is standing at the edge of a cliff-dive and you try to gently nudge them off the edge they'll only pull back. It's not that people don't know that not killing animals is 'a thing', of course they do, but they don't want to think about it, because it conflicts with their own desires or self-interest (something I've alluded to in an answer elsewhere).

For the most part I try to avoid getting engaged in conversation about veganism. If someone asks me a question and seems genuine then I'll try to answer it as diplomatically as I can but I usually avoid getting into it, if they are interested they can do what I did, look inside themselves and make the choice they believe is right, do the research.

That said, there's a good documentary or two on Netflix, folks are more willing to watch something than read or listen or put all the pieces together the hard way, I advocate the Minimalism documentary when I get a chance (oh, like just there, then) and a few people I know have watched it as a result, so it might be worth a try with a vegan documentary.

Vegucated has a good mix of positive message and a good dose of reality.

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