Values Clash: Fostering Healthy Change
Often around the holidays, conflicts arise due to differences in values. A cousin or friend may join your family for Christmas dinner and be shocked that you don't include the “traditional” whateveritis, and be offended. You may visit a friend of a different religion and find yourself in the midst of a spiritual ceremony that is against your religion. You might find holiday music obnoxious, but your siblings may insist on playing it anyway.
Whatever the situation may be, there is one magic question you can ask yourself to alleviate the discomfort of the situation. Before I get to that, here is an example of one of those difficult situations:
How can I “speak vegan” in effective ways? At a vegan Thanksgiving, a non-vegan man mentioned a hunter friend of his who sees the animals he kills as sacred. I was speechless and horrified that he said this at a vegan Thanksgiving. Some spoke up in disagreement; We don't need to eat animals to be healthy, there are better ways to be sacred. He responded that his friend believes his hunting practice to be sacred. How can this sort of situation be defused?
— Vegan seeker of peace
It is important for both vegans and omnivores to get over the idea that one of you is “right” and that the other is “wrong.” Some of the most spiritually evolved and healthy peoples of the world have included some meat in their diet. Some of the most brilliant people and healthiest people have been vegetarian, vegan or raw foodists. Some vegans are not healthy. Some vegans are very robust. Some omnivores are very spiritual and respectful about hunting. Some are not.
If you can't respect another person's beliefs, choices, and lifestyle, then you can't hope to ever influence them to be anything different.
To help a smoker quit smoking, love them despite their habit.
To help yourself lose weight, accept yourself fully at the weight you are.
The precondition of change and growth is acceptance.
In other words, there is no debate, no fight, no “right” and no “wrong” in the discussion. Not if anyone is to “win.” When you argue, you both lose, because you're both just trying to make yourself right. When you both accept and respect each other, you both win, because you get to learn about the other person in an honest and loving way.
If another person is trying to be right, trying to disrespect you or someone else, then the best thing you can do is ask the magic question, “What would love do?” And then do that.
Perhaps say, “I understand that you have values that differ from mine. That's okay. I don't think any less of you. We can talk more about how our values differ and how we came to our own values for a better understanding of one another after dinner.”
A Look At Vegan Values
When conversations about your vegetarian or vegan diet come up, and the person really wants to know, its best to give them the “soft touch” so that you don't lose their interest and respect. Let them know that you care about the big picture, and keep it personal to how you feel.
What is the big picture? As a vegan myself, I've been exploring “the big picture” that encompasses veganism, as well as the core values that lead someone to become a vegan. I've come to some startling conclusions which I've detailed in this article, Beyond Veganism. The concepts I write about in Beyond Veganism are ones that took me a few years to formulate: The root of all ethical questions is "Does this allow for thriving?", or in a word, we're all seeking efficiency. To see the dots connect between efficiency and veganism, click here.