Navigating Encounters: When to Explain Yourself
When it comes to our eating habits, let’s face it; we’re weird. In the eyes of many fellow Americans, we are just “health freaks” and “extremists.” They don’t understand, nor do they want to. But then, there are some people, some kind, wonderful souls, who find us interesting! Who want to know why, and are eager to learn more and expand their knowledge of food and nutrition. Surely, we have all experienced encounters with both types of people. For the first kind, it’s best to explain as little as possible. An explanation could lead to a lot of tension that is both unwanted and unnecessary. But for the second, an explanation could lead to a new friendship, or a life-changing inspiration!
So how do you know? When do we explain, and when do we just pass it off? Well, hopefully we’ll be able to help you with future dilemmas by offering our own personal advice and experience.
For the most part, we quietly flaunt our plant-strongness. We don’t shout it out to the world, but we don’t hide it. We’re living advertisements in our daily lives. We wear our kale shirts, and we eat our food. If people ask, we tell.
When you tell someone that you eat “plant-strong,” “plant-based,” a “whole food, plant-based diet,” etc, you can get a variety of responses. Almost always, people ask questions. Which can be a really good thing!! Or it can be a nightmare. The key is whether the questions are interest-based or defensive. For example: “Where do you get your protein?”… We’ve ALL heard it. But it’s not always the same question. Usually, you can tell by the person’s tone whether they actually want to know. Sometimes, they really don’t. Use your judgment.
If the person is interested, explain away! Start off with the basics, and the more they ask, the more you tell! Some people will really be intrigued. We always like to recommend a book (such as Engine 2 Diet, The China Study, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, etc) or a documentary (Forks Over Knives). That way if they want to learn more, they have a starting point. This is an exciting interaction! We love reaching out to others and expanding our plant-strong community!
On the other hand, if the person already has their mind made up that you’re crazy if you think this is healthy, then don’t try to convert them. You don’t want to preach about this lifestyle or push it onto people who don’t want to hear it. Just try to make this type of interaction as non-confrontational as possible. A great way to stay safe but also hold your ground is to use the “seems” approach. “It seems to be working for me.” This takes out any declaration of right versus wrong. It’s important that the other person doesn’t feel attacked.
In time, people usually come around to the idea and learn to accept you and your new lifestyle. For a while though, some people might give you a hard time. Though it can be rough, remember why you are doing this and try not to let others bring you down. (Don’t forget, you always have the E2 community here to support you!!) It also helps to be a good sport about it. If someone pokes fun at you, just go along with the joke. Keep things light-hearted and it will make everyone, including yourself, more comfortable.
In your plant-strong journey, you’re sure to experience oodles of encounters with SAD eaters. But hopefully after reading this post, you have some direction as to how to navigate the encounters successfully. Best of luck!!