Happy Herbivore Blog

The Secret to Handling Confrontation and Dealing with Negativity

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: AdviceFAQMinimalist

When I went vegan I had all these assumptions about how my friends would react to my new lifestyle. I figured there would be some teasing, some peer pressure trying to get me to “cheat” and all the annoying questions like “where do you get your protein?” but what I never expected was the open hostility.

Now, I have to interrupt and say that most of my friends were pretty awesome about it. Some were curious and the rest had a “whatever floats your boat” mentality but (and this is a big but!) some people were down right angry. It went well beyond simply being negative, or not supportive. It was as if my new lifestyle insulted them at their very core; that I had deeply, deeply offended them by putting plants on my plate. 

One particular “friend” said, “well I guess we can’t hang out anymore.” For the others, my veganism just became a source of tension between us. One "friend," for example, cancelled our dinner plans several times in a row. Finally, I asked if she was mad at me for something and she became angry instantly. She complained about how much I changed and couldn’t I just go back to the old Lindsay? When I asked her what that meant she said “the one who ate real food!”

Another “friend” just stopped inviting me to her parties and my lack of invitation was causing awkwardness among our mutual friends. For the better of the group I opted to talk to her about it. She said “Oh well I’m not vegan. There’s nothing for you to eat so I didn’t invite you.” Is that all a party is? Eating? There is no socializing?! I told her she didn’t have to cater to me; let me worry about what I’m going to eat. But of course, I was never invited again. As a result, I stopped trying to socialize with her (I know when I’m not welcome) and the pinnacle end of our friendship was when she sent me a heated email saying she was going to buy and throw away meat just to make up for what I’m not eating. 

I couldn’t understand why my vegan diet bothered her so much and why someone would waste their own money and “food” because of what someone else is doing? 

It was hard for me back then. I couldn’t see beyond those painful moments of rejection but now I have perspective. It’s been (almost) five years. I’ve had far more positive experiences than negative ones and I’m coming from a different place. I finally understand why my vegan diet bothered these “friends” so much and having this understanding is the secret to handling confrontation and outward negativity, even when that negativity isn’t about what is on your plate.

When people act this way towards you, it’s because your mere existence makes them reflect back on themselves and they don’t like what they see. They then attack you to make themselves feel better.

It also reminds me of peer pressure and the driving force behind it -- the comfort in conformity. 

Back in college, a friend of mine wasn’t much of a drinker and it was remarkable how often people (myself included) tried to get her to drink. “Just try this drink you’ll like it!” the question isn’t why wasn’t she drinking, but why was it so important to me (and others) that she have a drink? Was her abstention making me feel guilty about my own consumption? Would I have felt better about my choices if she drank too? If so, I guess I had some inner conflicts I needed to resolve... 

Which brings me to my grand point:

I like that saying, the worst thing someone can say about you, reveals a little truth about them.

I've looked back at the times I’ve been negative towards others and realized, even when my points were factual, or valid, there was always that tiny, lingering stench of jealousy or whatever I was being negative about revealed a hole deep within me. It brought light to one of my fears or something I lacked confidence about. My negativity had always unmasked me. 

I hope by sharing this that the next time you're confronted with negativity you will be able to see through it a little. 

I’m a long ways from taking negativity as a compliment, but it seems to sting less now that I have this perspective. 

Thoughts? Any similar experiences or realizations?

What to Feed Omni's (My Most Popular FAQ!)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQ

You will like the carrots. Oh yes. You will like the carrots. Oh yes. You will like...

You’re vegan and your parents, in laws, bestie, brother, boss, [fill in the blank], are coming over for dinner. And they’re not vegan. They’re not even thrilled about eating vegan food but... they love you. they lost a bet. they have no choice. they’re trying to incorporate more meatless meals...

And you want to make a meal that they'll eat (and hopefully love).

I get you.

Here is my advice for feeding skeptical omnivores (and meat eaters in general): Serve something that is familiar and inherently vegetarian -- Don’t go for tofu or meat substitutes or any kind of dish that’s pretending to be meat. 

A little soy milk with coffee after dinner is okay but you don't want to serve gardein. or lentil burgers. or some weird dehydrated eggplant that's pretending to be bacon.

Don't get me wrong, I like all of these foods but let's face it: they're pretty weird to a newcomer. Especially if that newcomer fashions themself as a "carnivore."

Anytime I go to a party where the food is vegan but not all of the guests are, I notice the omnivores (especially those totally new to vegan fare) tend to huddle around things like fruit salad, bean dip, chips and salsa, hummus and veggies. That's because these are "safe" foods. Some might dare label them "normal" foods. Point is, they are foods we're all familiar with.

It doesn't even really matter about the whole vegan vs. non vegan thing. Most people are pretty timid about trying something new so serve up a dish they already know and love.

Not only will this create a harmonious meal time, it'll open up their eyes to how awesome vegan fare can be and help dissipate the notions that vegans subsist on weird foods, iceberg lettuce salads and smelly boca burgers (sorry boca burgers, but you know you stank!)

Everyone loves Mexican food so Mexican dishes are always a safe bet. Black beans, pinto beans, rice, salsa, guacamole---rock on! Pasta is also a crowd pleaser (and really easy!). Never forget that a beautiful pasta dish can really go a long way! 

Vegetable casseroles are also generally well received, along with soups and stews. Even bean chilis tend to go over well, especially when they are served with cornbread.

I've complied a list of all the dishes I've served my rather skeptical family and friends (you know who you are!) in hopes that it will help you feed yours.

Top 10 Dishes to Feed Skeptical Omnivores:

  1. Sweet & Spicy Butternut Soup (p. 59)
  2. Creamy Carrot Soup (p. 62) <-- good chilled too, btw!
  3. Chili Sans Carne (p.81) & Cornbread (p. 49)
  4. Chickpea Tacos (p. 97)
  5. Portobello Steaks (p. 148)
  6. Vegetarian Delight (p. 116)
  7. Cheater Pad Thai (p. 117)
  8. Hawaiian Chickpea Teriyaki (p. 127)
  9. Tamale Casserole (p. 167)
  10. Chickpea Noodle Soup

p.s. many thanks to all the omni’s in my life who have and continue to try vegan fare -- and an even bigger hug to the many of you who leave meat off your plate even when I’m not serving you dinner! 

Also hats off to all my wonderful fans and supporters who are not vegan, but still make many of my recipes. I believe every meatless and vegan meal matters -- keep up the good work!

Live from HH HQ!

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: News

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