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Q: I am often very surprised at the reactions I get from people when they hear I am vegan. I would have thought living a compassionate lifestyle was a great thing - so why do people get so upset about it? I am struggling to understand and I am not sure how to deal with these negative people. - Surprised
I know - these reactions can seem completely counter intuitive. They still take me by surprise sometimes. You would think going vegan, whether to improve your health, tread more lightly on the planet or to minimise harm to animals would be something that people praised you for. But more often than not the opposite happens. People can get really upset and defensive.
I can't say why any particular person would react like this but there are a number of reasons why they might. Fear is a big one. People are afraid of people doing something different to the accepted norm because they are afraid of things they don't understand. An automatic reaction to anything different is fear and avoidance.
Hearing about someone being vegan can also cause something called cognitive dissonance, which is the mental discomfort that arises when you hold two conflicting values. We like our beliefs and behaviours to be in harmony so if you trigger someone to question their values e.g. "If you love animals, why do you eat them?" Well they are going to want to relieve the discomfort that they feel as quickly as possible. The easiest way to to this is to justify their own choices.
Most people would rather keep their heads in the sand and they are not going to like it when you try to pull them out. They will fight back.
The best thing you can do is to remain calm. Don't let these people get under your skin. And remember that other people's opinions are irrelevant. You know what is right for you. Stick to your guns and let that negativity just wash over you.
Georgia Bamber is a vegan success coach based in the Southern Highlands NSW. Certified in coaching and plant based nutrition she knows a thing or two about embracing a vegan lifestyle. You can find out more about Georgia and how she can help you at www.successfullyvegan.com.
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