Do you find it hard to get on with family who refuse to listen?

mlod54

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I am 26 and tried to go vegetarian when I was 12 and when I was 15. The first time, being only 12 I didn't know anything about the meat industry and my parents made it clear that it wasn't an option so I basically just accepted it. When I was 15, I did some research and became very upset and tried to go vegetarian, however my parents got very angry, said lots of horrible things and punished me. The main reason that they were desperate for me to eat meat is that they thought that it is essential for our health so I did some research and presented them sources from websites such as the NHS showing that we can live on a vegetarian diet but they refused to look at it and I felt forced to just bury my feelings and continue eating meat. I am really angry with myself and feel that this was very weak of me but I went on eating meat for over 10 years, subconciously knowing that it was wrong but unable to face another fight with my family.

Earlier this year I did lots of research and went vegan. The more research I do, the more terrible eating animal products seems and it is clear to me that immense suffering and environmental damage is being caused in order to produce products which are actually bad for our health compared to a good vegan diet. I can't stop thinking about the suffering so when I see my family (who I don't live with) all I can talk about is how awful the production of animal products is. But they think that I am intolerant and rude and shouldn't push my views on them, they refuse to watch any of the videos that I have sent them and my mum says that (non-human) animal suffering doesn't matter because they are stupid. I don't feel that I can enjoy spending time with them now and I feel morally obliged to do whatever I can to try to convert them and the upshot is that I am starting to wonder if I will have to just cut them off if they refuse to listen. This may sound cold but I'm sure that many would feel the same way if their family tortured or killed people. Has anyone else struggled to spend time with meat eaters who refuse to listen to the truth about how the meat is produced? I find it especially hard to understand how a dog lover could eat meat if they knew the truth.
 

Lou

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Yes. Welcome to the forum. Your frustrations are nothing new or novel. I think everyone here has dealt with it. And in different ways so that should be interesting and educational for you. You might want to try using the search function and find some of the threads on this subject. For a lot of us its an old and tired subject (a lot of us are old and tired too) and we don't want to talk about it anymore. Try putting in "friends" or "family" or "non-vegan" in the search box. I just did and found a lot of threads.

The phenomena you are alluding to is called cognitive dissonance. Specifically vegans have dubbed it The Meat Paradox. You can google those phrases and find lots of good articles on the subject, too.

IMHO, the best resource for talking to non-vegans is Dr. Melanie Joy. she is a social psychologist. Her book, Why we love dogs, eat pigs, and wear cows, an introduction to carnism, is worth reading. She also has a bunch of YouTube videos. And a Ted Talk.

This video is a good place to start. And its really short

On a more personal level, I think your level of empathy must be in the top percentile of the GP and way high compared to most vegans I know. Getting it at 12 is not that unusual. Most 3rd graders stop eating bacon for a while after reading Charlotte's Web. but sticking with those values into adulthood is unusual. I didn't even start becoming vegan till I was 40. So for me its relatively easy for me to forgive my Carnist friends and family - I used to be just like them. So you will have a harder row to sow.
 

mlod54

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Yes. Welcome to the forum. Your frustrations are nothing new or novel. I think everyone here has dealt with it. And in different ways so that should be interesting and educational for you. You might want to try using the search function and find some of the threads on this subject. For a lot of us its an old and tired subject (a lot of us are old and tired too) and we don't want to talk about it anymore. Try putting in "friends" or "family" or "non-vegan" in the search box. I just did and found a lot of threads.

The phenomena you are alluding to is called cognitive dissonance. Specifically vegans have dubbed it The Meat Paradox. You can google those phrases and find lots of good articles on the subject, too.

IMHO, the best resource for talking to non-vegans is Dr. Melanie Joy. she is a social psychologist. Her book, Why we love dogs, eat pigs, and wear cows, an introduction to carnism, is worth reading. She also has a bunch of YouTube videos. And a Ted Talk.

This video is a good place to start. And its really short

On a more personal level, I think your level of empathy must be in the top percentile of the GP and way high compared to most vegans I know. Getting it at 12 is not that unusual. Most 3rd graders stop eating bacon for a while after reading Charlotte's Web. but sticking with those values into adulthood is unusual. I didn't even start becoming vegan till I was 40. So for me its relatively easy for me to forgive my Carnist friends and family - I used to be just like them. So you will have a harder row to sow.
Thanks for your response, that's very helpful. I do wonder how most teenagers imagine animals being slaughtered since it's never really talked about and I don't think many people look it up, it's hard for me to understand how people don't think about it but then I also got upset every time someone killed an insect from about the age of 12, I couldn't understand how everyone else just killed them without thinking twice but I suppose very few people feel that way too.

It's nice to hear you referring to it as empathy - my parents think empathy only applies to how we feel about humans and they think I'm intolerant and rude when I try to educate them on how meat is produced and why I think it's wrong to eat it. And when I talked about cows being raped, my dad just laughed and said they don't have a concept of rape because they're not human. 😠

I really respect you for being a vegan. 😊
 
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David3

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Hi mlod54. In my experience, the best way to inspire others is to lead by example. If you simply enjoy your delicious-looking food, without making accusations of animal murder or rape, then people will notice how good your food looks. They will even try vegan food themselves (although they likely won't share this fact with you, because people value their independence of power-of-choice). Don't push, don't try to control - it doesn't work.
 
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Lou

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Have you ever seen Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure?
There is a scene where someone says to bill or ted, "What are you ignorant or apathetic?"
and the answer was, "don't know, don't care."

Empathy is an interesting subject too. Although it appears to be a natural emotion, I think it can be developed (or cultivated?) Why do some people have so little while others have so much?

I know that scientists who study wild animals have detected what they think is empathy in all kinds of animals.
 
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mlod54

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Have you ever seen Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure?
There is a scene where someone says to bill or ted, "What are you ignorant or apathetic?"
and the answer was, "don't know, don't care."

Empathy is an interesting subject too. Although it appears to be a natural emotion, I think it can be developed (or cultivated?) Why do some people have so little while others have so much?

I know that scientists who study wild animals have detected what they think is empathy in all kinds of animals.
I haven't seen it but I'll look it up. 👍

Yeah I definitely think it's empathy. Frustratingly my parents think that empathy only applies to thinking about humans though so they think that my efforts to convert them show a lack of empathy. In fact, when I tried to go veggie at the age of 15 my mum said I was at an age where people lose their empathy and that's how she saw my decision as she felt that it was very rude to her. I understand that brain scans have shown that vegetarians and vegans tend to have more energy than meat eaters though.

I think it would be great if there were more vegan activists who were over 50. My dad thinks it's only young people who go vegan (other than for health reasons) and that he knows better as he's had more life experience. He can't see the problem with eating meat as he says that wild animals suffer much more when they're eaten and he sees cows and pigs in fields and concludes that all livestock have a nice life. It's so infuriating that nothing I say will make my family realise that consuming animal products causes unnecessary suffering and so can't be justified.
 
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Danielle

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Used to. I guess that's the result of going vegan, wondering why everyone else isn't. I kinda learned to block that feeling out so it doesn't drive me mad.
 
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mlod54

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Used to. I guess that's the result of going vegan, wondering why everyone else isn't. I kinda learned to block that feeling out so it doesn't drive me mad.
Yeah I suppose there's only so much we can do. I do wonder whether or not I'd still be a monster in the eyes of the animals if they saw me socialising with meat eaters. Maybe one of the reasons most people bury the head in the sand is that they worry that social interactions would be harder.
 
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