How to Persuade People to Try a Vegetarian Diet
Many people who are vegetarians take a hard handed approach to try to convince others to become vegetarians, often without much success. If you are interested in trying to get people to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle you need to do so by following a more natural approach.
Avoid Being too Extreme
PETA, for example, often loses some people's interest because people get turned off by the extreme actions of this group (to note PETA are not even as extreme as some smaller organizations). By showing graphic slaughterhouse images many people are turned off the message, not just the meat. The people become unwilling to listen and turn away; afraid of what they might see next. While the message may be good, and the intention may be excellent, the message is lost and therefor has no value.
One of the worst things a vegetarian can do is try to ram their information down the throat of a person who does not ask for it.
Image by authors husband - getting ready to make vege burgers.
Try a Softer Approach
Rather than offering unsolicited advice it is better to lead by example, when out with others casually ask the waitress if they have “vegetarian options” then order one so others can see how good vegetarian food can look, offer them a bite if they want, but do not start in on a lecture.
If you have a dinner party, or are invited to a potluck dinner, cook a vegetarian item, but make it “normal” enough that people are still willing to try it, such as a vegetarian chili. Avoid cooking something that people won't recognize or they may not want to try it or may think it would be too difficult to cook themselves – one of the reasons some people do not try cooking vegetarian meals is they think vegetarian meals are too difficult to make.
If asked to share a recipe for your a school, or church, cookbook, pick an easy vegetarian one.
Rather that pushing the full vegetarian agenda try a simpler step, suggest people adopt “Meatless Mondays”, a habit of having a least one meatless day a week, and encourage smaller portions of meat when meat is served. This is particularly good if you are a parent, or child, trying to encourage eating less meat in your family. Start by suggesting one meatless day a week and smaller portions of meat when meat is served.
Suggest a natural progression, first a lacto-ovo diet, then full vegetarian diet, never push a vegan diet outright, the change is too hard for people do adapt to, and most give up after a short time when faced with such a drastic change. If you are not familiar with the differences between vegetarians and vegans, you can read that here.
When to Lecture
The only time you should really talk about the benefits of being a vegetarian are when you are asked. Even when asked you should be direct and honest and avoid going over the top, answer the person's questions but do not get into a lecture, or preachy, way of talking because unless people signed up to listen to you lecture formally they tend to tune out.
The right time to lecture is if you are actually giving a lecture; assigned to speak on the reasons for switching to a vegetarian diet.
Similarly you can write your own Internet articles, e-books, books, and so forth, where you actually can lecture to those who want the information you want to share, and you can talk about the advantages of being vegetarian and the reasons for becoming vegetarian. You can also try to get articles written in your local newspaper, or submit to magazines.
*For the record this author is not full vegetarian, but has been having many meatless days a week.