When I first turned vegetarian at the age of 13, I felt it was my duty to convert everyone I crossed paths with. I feverishly argued, debated, coaxed, explained. Things like “It takes up to 13 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of meat” spewed from my lips. I was a pious follower of the Church of Vegan. I knew all the benefits for my health, the planet and its animals, as well as those going hungry around the world, and I felt that everyone should know.
The problem was that though well-intentioned, my arguments mostly fell on deaf ears. My audience was not well chosen, and most of these people had no intention of really hearing me out or concerning themselves with the welfare of animals, the planet or even people going hungry on the other side of the globe. In addition, many people felt attacked and criticized – never a good way to start off dialogue about something important.
With time and age, my approach and thinking have changed significantly. I don’t really discuss veganism/vegetarianism unless it somehow comes up, and when it does I usually don’t spend more than a few minutes talking about it. I avoid getting into debates with people on the topic. Have I given up? Do I no longer believe in everything that I said? Am I just a wimp? HARDLY!
I’ve decided to teach by example and not preach so much. I have, however, preached to those ready to listen and I do so with pleasure. This method, though less in your face, seems to be more effective – at least for me.
The most important thing I have learned in my 20-year adventure with vegetarianism (and veganism) is that being judgmental is never good. People may be uninformed, but preaching is not always the best solution, teach by example.