Since You Asked…

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Dear Caroline,

One of my childhood friends recently became a vegan. Whenever my husband and I have her over for dinner, we do our best to accommodate her new dietary needs. Last weekend, however, we invited her to join us at a restaurant with friends, who happened to order steak. To my embarrassment, she started ranting about how unhealthy and immoral it is to eat anything but plant-based food. As if that weren’t enough, she went on to tell a couple of gruesome stories she had recently read about factory farming. I value her friendship, but I never want to go through this again. What should I do

…Apprehensive Omnivore

Dear Omnivore,

Since your friend is a vegan, you can’t have a bone to pick with her. Let’s find another approach. Most longstanding relationships eventually require us to live patiently through an episode that would make us run a mile from a new acquaintance.

Try to understand the situation from her perspective. Many vegans view their lifestyle choice as something more akin to a religion than a diet. Apparently, your friend is one of these. Like any new convert, she’s going through her initial “true believer” phase.  That phase usually involves some evangelism. Evangelists are convinced they’re right and everyone else is wrong. Talking to them won’t change that.

Avoid the temptation to match wits with her by, for example, bringing up how many rodents are routinely killed on grain farms.

Once the “new” wears off, she’ll likely learn to practice veganism with the grace it takes to be a good ambassador for the lifestyle. In the meantime, she’s a social misfit. Leave her off your dinner party guest lists and entertain her alone for now.


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