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How Do You Deal With This Stuff?

Posted Jan 06 2012 2:38pm
The old image above - so dear to my heart! (Photo © Joanna Wilson )
First of all, check out the new and improved design for the blog! From all of the beautiful transitioning I'm experiencing this month, I am really starting to live by the notion that change is good. Really, really, really good. I hope you like it! 

Alrighty - below is an interaction I had with a KMIV supporter, friend, and fellow blogger, Britt Losacco of Gluten-Free in the City . I want to share it on here because I've answered this question (or a versions of this question) many times before, but each time, it reminds me how important all of these words bear repeating. 

Britt wrote:
I just wanted to share that my plant-based x-mas dinner was a massive success. Everyone loved every bit of it and felt full and completely satisfied. They couldn't stop raving!

I also wanted to ask your advice, though...or maybe I just need to vent.... (Forewarning: this got long.)
I got into a conversation with my dad and brother on the day we left and it got into protein combining. I KNOW that you can get more than enough protein on a vegan diet...I just didn't have enough knowledge handy to argue the protein combining thing effectively at that point in time. A little research after the conversation told me that, as I thought, if you're eating a varied, whole-foods, plant-based diet, you're going to get enough protein and that complementary proteins don't need to be eaten at the same time (or even in the same day) to be synthesized properly. Not to mention how over-hyped our need for protein is, and that, with the rate at which my hair and nails have been growing since going plant-based, I'm clearly getting enough of the stuff!

My dad also said that he saw an episode of The Dr. Oz Show where Dr. Oz was sort of skeptical about veganism and had people on who were arguing whether it was good or not. It struck me as odd because he's always promoted veganism positively and has asked people to eat that way to reverse major health conditions. Now, the only episode on eating vegan I can find (aside from Rocco the cowboy -an obvious major success) is the episode he did with the guys from Forks Over Knives where he's saying repeatedly through the entire show that eating vegan can "save your life."
I'm extraordinarily frustrated. My instinct is to turn around and send an e-mail with links to everything I found and say "See?!" I know that's not the right thing to do, though, and it will ultimately be counterproductive. I don't want to beat my family over the head with this stuff and scare them away from it altogether. I know the best way to make them curious and help them learn is to show them how amazing this way of living is by being a positive example. My dad feels terrible and is eating 1-lb burgers and massive t-bone steaks... and I feel better than I have in my life.

It's just hard. I know I'm fighting against a regional culture where the main food groups are beef, cheese, & beer, where people drink "pop" with every meal, and think nothing of cruising through a drive-thru multiple times a day... and I also know that, even feeling somewhere inside like I've been a closet vegan my whole life and not wanting to admit it, it took me a couple years and starts and stops and trials before really owning that this is what makes me feel best. If it was hard for me, I can only imagine how impossible (and even wrong) that way of life would seem to them.
So, I guess my question, if there's a question in any of this, is how have you dealt with this stuff? How do you resist the temptation to INFORM EVERYONE!!!! because you know how good and right it feels, and the way it impacts one's health is just so amazing--reverse/prevent cancer and heart disease! (Maybe talking through it with someone who understands is enough? I already feel better after writing this....) And the animal rights/enivronmental/political aspects of everything haven't even been touched on with my there's that can of worms as well. How do you let people know how incredible this is without scaring them away? Without arguing when you know that what you're saying is right?
I wrote back:
I totally hear you girl. When I first officially went vegan three years ago, I wanted to shout it to the hilltops! I was so excited by the discoveries I had made and so humbled by all of the information I'd learned about the horrors of what we do to animals that I felt every person needed to know what I had learned. And in the process of learning how to live vegan completely, I lost a few fans, ruffled some family feathers, and alienated my husband a bit. All par for the course, though. Because even though things started a bit rocky, many of those fans came back and told me that they're vegan now, nearly all of my family is vegan or vegetarian, and my hubby is vegan as well. So, with time and practice, living vegan has been a shining example to others of a life well lived.
In terms of your journey, here's what I think - the first thing I'd suggest you purchase is a beautiful book by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau called the Vegan's Daily Companion . It touches on so many points you made here in your email and gives beautiful suggestions of how to live in a world where others are often offended or just plain shut down by witnessing your compassionate, healthy choices.

The second thing I think you should do is visit a great website - - which stands for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine . There you'll find everything you need about the benefits of a plant-based diet, and all sourced by doctors. 
Finally, I'm almost finished a phenomenal book that answers nearly every question about healthy plant-based living, and I highly recommend it - Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr. From reading CSD, I learned that if I'm eating a well-balanced, plant-based diet, I don't need to worry about protein combining or even how much protein I'm getting. Cool stuff!

If finances allow, a great gift to send the naysayers in your family would be the DVD of Forks Over Knives - you could wrap it in pretty paper with a card that says how much this documentary moved you and just keep the message as positive as possible.

Oftentimes, the people who ask you the questions and get defensive are those who are deep down the most curious. Again, Colleen's book is a lifesaver for learning how to handle them. 
At the very least (especially in finances are tight), do as much internet research as you can. Education is power, and by informing yourself of every answer you can think of, you won't be left stumped when someone asks you about living vegan. A lot of times, the questions are very similar - how do you get your protein? what about calcium? aren't we supposed to eat animals? if we stopped eating animals, what would we do with all of them? etc, etc, etc... 
For me, the longer I've been doing this, the more it has become my faith. I live my life by three pillars: love, kindness, and compassion. Since going vegan is all about compassion (towards ourselves and our fellow beings), it should definitely extend to the human beings in our lives. So patience, openness, and a positive outlook are key.

Just know that your light - your positive, vegan lifestyle burning bright for all to see - will be enough to create positive change in others. Just keep living in the way that pleases you, keep informing yourself of new information, find as many ways to celebrate living vegan as possible, and if you need to, use your beautiful blog as an outlet for all of this, if you haven't already. You already have a captive audience who love your journey. Keep educating them as you go, and you'll be happily surprised by how many will support your changes and growth.

And most importantly, connect with other vegans if you haven't already! You're in NYC, yes? If so, there is an amazing group of activists you should look into meeting - Farm Sanctuary 's Activist Team. Just go to their website and look up info about it. They have monthly meetings, parties, volunteer sessions, all kinds of wonderful stuff. is also a FABULOUS place to find vegan-friendly social events like the famous Vegan Drinks in NYC.
I hope that you'll continue to celebrate your lifestyle choice and pay it forward by helping those who want to know more about living vegan. And of course, I am always here if you need anything. Just remember - you are doing something AMAZING with your life by living vegan every day - celebrate and honor that!

I hope you had a fabulous New Year! Here's to a compassionate, beautiful, growth-filled 2012!

Have a question for this vegan blogger? Feel free to email me at .
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