Do's and Don'ts of being friends with a vegan
This article is addressed to all you passionate meat eaters/vegetarians, and how you can be a normal supportive friend to a vegan (a stranger or a buddy) despite having differences. Just follow the below tenants of civility to make them feel comfortable and maintain their own space at the same time.
KEEP CALM AND KEEP IT SIMPLE
Don't grunt in irritation. Your vegan friend may already be worried about the social implications of her resolution. Get some lime/chilli popcorn and chill with them for a movie. You'll realise most activities in your life don't require any change. As soon as someone says they want to go vegan doesn't have to mean they belong to a different world. Find as many normal things to do as possible, that doesn't involve your love for meat, dairy or eggs. Everything is replaceable. If you're feeling there's barely anything left to do with your vegan friend anymore, you're just not used to thinking creatively.
EAT ONLY IF OFFERED
Do not eat from their plates unless they offer. Keep your hands off the plate of a vegan. No more than one small bite for a taste. It isn't fair you get to eat everything, but the vegan will be left with little food because everyone else ate from their plate. Order your own plate if you wish to eat the same vegan dish. Which brings me to the next point
SOMETHING OF THEIR CHOICE
Offer to join them at a restaurant of their choice. It's very rare your vegan friend gets to order from a menu without checking the ingredients. They're sick of ordering fries and potatoes wherever they go with you. Vegan food isn't accessible and finding vegan-friendly restaurants is refreshing.
HELP INCREASE DEMAND
Suggest restaurants keep vegan menu/options/customizations in feedback to encourage the demand. Tell them because of the lack of inclusivity of their menu, it discourages you from enjoying their food with your vegan friend. The best thing you can do as a non-vegan is giving voice to the vegan demand to make the menu more inclusive and diverse. The world is an easier place to live in if a restaurant can serve the needs of both yours and your vegan friend's orders.
TRUCE WITH A VEGAN DESSERT
Let's face it. If you're a passionate meat eater, chances are high you will crack a silly joke and get into an argument.
Getting vegan desserts for them as a gesture of truce will always work. Desserts are something they will really appreciate. It is one of the hardest things to let go of as a transitioning vegan. More than balancing nutrition, your vegan friend probably researched extensively on how they can satisfy the chocolate cravings in the new diet.
SAVE YOUR BREATH- part 1
Do not bother to tempt them if they've been vegan for a long time. It's much more than a healthy diet for them. Their motivations could be ethical, environmental or medical. The meat either looks like a dead body or a huge mass of carbon footprint or an impending allergic reaction. Their brain does not register meat and dairy as viable food options anymore. Chances are they'll either get annoyed by you or grimace in disgust. But you will not succeed in making them fall for it.
They have all their facts ready not because they want to give you a comeback, but because when they first wanted to go vegan, they had the same questions you have.
BEING GENUINELY CURIOUS
Ask questions about the vegan lifestyle only if you're interested to listen. Habit change is more than just will power and I'm sure your vegan friend has great tips to help you with the transition. But do not feign interest, because if your friend doesn't talk about it, your vegan friend is always hoping someone else around her gathers the courage to go vegan too. She relates to her diet as the future of human civilisation, and she's waiting to see it happen.
THE PERFECT DEFENSE IS THE MOST HONEST ONE
Don't be an irrationally defensive meat lover. Accept it gracefully. Don't try to defend your love for meat with nonsensical logic. You'll be better off if you just say "Meat is tasty. I can't help it".
The only difference between you and your friend is a perspective towards food. They have realised and fully internalised the knowledge of where the food comes from, whereas most people have an inherent tendency of detaching themselves from the knowledge of the source of their food. So, Under no circumstances should you bring up the "circle of life/ man has been eating meat since the stone age" argument. It only serves to make you sound primitive and short-sighted.
CALL OUT THE HATE
Call them out if they shame you constantly. Tell them it only makes them unapproachable which only serves to turn you off from ever considering the switch to veganism.
Learn to separate their "fact talk" with "downright hostility". It's a humbling flaw for a person who has made efforts to change their diet. Sometimes the frustration can get mixed up in well-intentioned conversations, no matter how hard some vegans try to be civil about it. Being vegan doesn't give them a free halo over their head. They are still accountable for speaking to you respectfully.
If your friend is a transitioning vegan (it's only been a few months) and has a cheat bite now and then, do not use that as an opportunity to try setting them up for failure. That's what bad friends do.
USING THE "L" WORD
Do not say "I love animals". Instead, say "I love pets". Better yet be specific. I love cats, I love Dogs, etc. The more specific about the species your love, the better.
Learn more about specie-ism and what it means. Human beings have a tendency to look at only certain species as food, and others as wild animals that deserve special treatment. So never say I love animals as it covers all animals, even the ones you're eating.