Mark Twain famously said “You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.” While this may not be entirely true in all circumstances, it’s definitely something for vegans to keep in mind this time of the year. As Thanksgiving nears, the collective anxiety level in the vegan world starts nervously trending upwards. Depending on when you went vegan or how receptive your family is to your lifestyle (and how much you love being around your extended family in general); the annual turkey massacre holiday can turn into every vegan’s nightmare as well. What new dumb questions will you hear this year? What witty (i.e. cruel) remarks will be thrown your way? What absurd nutritional advice will your unhealthy aunt give you about calcium and protein? Worst of all, how can you once again try to explain to your cute old grandmother why you don’t want to eat the stuffed and roasted animal that she prepared with so much love. Stay calm; we have three easy steps that might help you get her on your side in a few minutes:
Step One: Tell her you love her. Of course you love your grandmother and there’s no bad time for you to remind her about your feelings. In fact, tell her that you not only love her, but you also love the food she cooks, you love your family, your aunts and uncles, your neighbors and friends. You just think everyone is awesome no matter what race they are, or language they speak or how much money they have. You love the planet you live in and every living thing that is on it, including the animals and the fish and the birds. Why? Because they’re all amazing (but not as amazing as your grandmother) and they all really want to be loved.
Step Two: Tell her you don’t want things you love to suffer and die. Ask her to imagine if you were being held captive, and that someone wanted to kill and eat you. Neither she nor you would really want that. Similarly, there is no reason why an animal that can feel pleasure and pain would want such a life. That’s why you don’t think any animal or person needs to unnecessarily suffer or die. You wouldn’t hurt your neighbor, your pet dog, your friend or any living being whether you know them or not, when you don’t really need to. So why hurt and kill animals so we can eat and wear them? Especially since we can eat delicious food and wear amazing things without causing any suffering.
Step Three: Tell her you are healthier and happier without animal products. Tell her that you don’t really need to eat chicken or drink milk to be healthy because there are many delicious alternatives that help you stay healthy without any animal having to suffer or die. Further, since more and more people have been going choosing to live this way over the past few years, it’s become very easy to buy food, clothing and other products that are all made without any animal ingredients. The benefits of living this way easily outweigh the drawbacks of having to be careful about what you eat and buy.
Lastly, remind her that this isn’t about trying to be different or standing against the crowd. You’re still the same person, but have a way of looking at the world that has changed with modern times. Now, she may still not completely get it, but you may at least get her to think about it. If you really want to take it to the next level, make her something she enjoys eating and make it vegan. Good vegan food, when served to the young or old, to meat eaters or vegetarians, really needs no explanation.
Good Luck, Happy Thanksgiving and say hi to grandma from us!
*Note: the advice in this article can also be used to explain veganism to humans that are not grandmothers (but need an easy, loving explanation).