Vegan with Friends: a How-to Guide
We all have "that friend" who's discovered how great a life of wellness can make you feel
They start posting photos and quotes on social media about their workouts and diet, can't stop talking about it all the time, and eventually start trying to convert you.
When I transitioned to a vegan diet, I was no exception. I felt so amazing that I literally wanted to shout it from the rooftops every time I was around my friends. In hindsight, I'm pretty sure I annoyed a lot of people. BUT, thankfully I've learned from my past naivety.
Fast forward a few years: how have we dealt with non-vegan friendships?
My husband and I really like to cook at home; it helps with budgeting, and honestly we have a hard time enjoying food made at a restaurant because we've gotten pretty good at it ourselves.
When friends of ours who aren't vegan come over and hang, it's super fun. Especially when we get to the point where it's time to eat: hardly anyone can resist our amazing-smelling food.
As per usual, we cooked two large meals this past Sunday, and it just so happened that we knew a couple of our friends would be stopping by.
Read more about our meal-prep strategy here.
So what are some of our secrets to getting our friends on board with vegan food, you ask?
1) Stick with familiar foods
This past weekend was all about Minimalist Baker. We chose simple, familiar dishes to make sure that our friends wouldn't be tempted to question an entree they'd never had before.
We decided on the simple love we all have for burgers and chili. <3 If you don't feel like buying her cookbook, check out her website for tons of free recipes!
Recipes were from Minimalist Baker's Everyday Cooking (Cocoa Black Bean Burgers and Super Thick Chili)
2) Bring your own plant-based food to the party
I once got invited to a girl's night with friends. Of course, it was a wine-and-cheese gathering, so I had to improvise if I wanted to join in on the munching for the evening. However, I really wanted to make sure that my friends didn't think my vegan food was weird.
I went to the store, got some ingredients, and whipped up a quick appetizer that packed easily and looked relatively tame. I was pretty nervous about showing up with my own food and almost decided against it.
BUT amazingly...My friends literally devoured it.
Don't want to buy their book? Go to the Thug Kitchen Blog for other inspiring dishes!
Get the recipe from their amazing cookbook: Thug Kitchen (Split Pea Lettuce Wraps)
Lesson learned: everyone loves food made by other people.
3) Don't be preachy
I think this is one of the main points about being vegan that has given me major brownie points with friends.
I don't waffle under pressure, but I don't preach. My friends are my friends, regardless of what they choose to eat. I'm not going to get anywhere by ridiculing their food habits.
4) Lead by Example
I've found that if my goal were to convince someone to adopt a whole-foods plant-based lifestyle, the approach is to simply embody the change I wish to see in others.
The more I eat healthy foods and act like doing so is normal, the better and more comfortable it makes my friends feel. They begin to naturally ask questions. They want a few recipes here and there. Some have even called me after years and asked me for advice.
Practicing kindness, empathy, and respect for other peoples' journeys has proven to be the most successful route of enacting change in my friends' lives.
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Curious about some of the vegan cookbooks in this post? Check out our detailed list of vegan cookbooks here!