My husband and I have been vegans for a while now, long enough that we went through explaining ourselves to our friends and family, answering all the questions, bearing all the disapproval, getting into a few disputes etc. Finally, our close family and friends accept our lifestyle choice, or we think they do (at least they don’t raise their eyebrows anymore 🙂 ). So, life is back to normal. We still go out to dinner with friends and we take our time to browse through the menu to find suitable items, talk to the waiter or even sometimes the chef if they can make a vegan version of some stuff. And nobody gets impatient 🙂
Last month, we went on vacation to our home town. We saw a lot of family members, and old friends we had not seen for a long time.
Of course, we broke the news that we were vegans. And here were all the questioning, unsolicited opinions on our protein intake etc. At first, I thought here we go again! We will go through this one more time! But on the contrary, it didn’t turn out bad at all. There weren’t any significant brow raising, negative comments or getting into disputes. Everybody accepted our lifestyle choice much more peacefully.
So, what was different?
We were different. The way we handled the situation was different than before. Here is the secret:
Giving up wanting approval from others on our lifestyle choice.
I became vegan for ethical reasons; I believe we need to co-exist with the animals, they are not here to feed us, and also I see the harm the animal agriculture is doing to our Planet. When I first became vegan, I carried a huge emotional load around my compassion towards animals and the Planet. I felt the injustice towards animals so bad that I wanted to make everybody vegan. And I took all the questioning about my lifestyle choice more offensive than they were meant to be. So, I got into a defensive mode which triggered more criticism and questioning from others. Also, I tried to turn their disapproval into approval, which turned into disputes. I wanted them to understand, accept and respect my choice.
Of course, I’m still emotional about the whole thing since this is a very sensitive and important cause for me. But, I get these emotions more under control now. So, I don’t get defensive anymore. My new motto is, “whether you like it or not, I’m vegan for a reason, I can give you facts on why it’s the right choice, otherwise, I don’t really care about the criticism or the nutrition advise you will give me”. It works! I don’t get defensive and I don’t try to get their approval on my lifestyle choice. Freedom!
I realized that wanting approval from others on any subject only creates more tension and conflict. Even though, wanting approval is a basic human trigger, nobody needs to feel “approved” on the choices they make. If we can release the need of wanting approval, actually there will be less or no inner conflict and more peaceful interactions with others. I tried it with veganism, it worked!