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The Vegan Bridge Technique

How To Talk To Non-Vegans... Without losing your mind!
[Step-By-Step]

As a new vegan communication can be a little tricky, so in this post, I’m going to teach you the art of talking to non-vegans effectively and with ease!

Before I started using The Vegan Bridge Technique, I would often have conversations with non-vegans that ended in heated debates and arguments, these days talking to non-vegans has become SO much easier!

Specifically, I’m going to cover tactics and strategies so that the next time you talk with a non-vegan, you’ll know exactly what to say and do… without breaking a sweat!

So, let’s get started…

Bridging The Gap to non-vegans

Arrow pointing across gap where the vegan bridge will go

As a new vegan, you’re probably already aware that when talking to non-vegans about your lifestyle, things can… well, get a little tense…

It’s fair to say that most people simply don’t want to know the reality behind where their food comes from.

And by bringing it up, they’re having to think about things that are usually out of sight and out of mind…

In doing this, the majority of non-vegans experience something called cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is the feeling someone gets when they recognize that their actions go against their morals…

Unsurprisingly, this is especially common when it comes to eating animals – after all, most people would call themselves animal lovers.

In fact, this experience is so common that it has its own name – The Meat Paradox.

The Meat Paradox
The Paradox of Meat - BBC Article Screenshot

The Meat Paradox is the ‘psychological conflict between people’s dietary preference for meat and their moral response to animal suffering.’

While on a surface level, it doesn’t seem too problematic to talk about veganism.

The reality is, that doing so goes deep into people’s psychology.

Not only does talking about veganism threaten non-vegans enjoyment of eating animal products, but it also threatens their unconscious identity…

Therefore, it’s not surprising that most people’s response is to defend themselves and their actions by any means necessary.

After all, they’re protecting both their actions and their identity.

As a new vegan, knowing how to successfully bridge this gap is key to communicating effectively with non-vegans.

Essential Knowledge For New Vegans

The-Definitive-Vegan-Resource-Guide-2021
The #1 Vegan Resource Guide on the internet (in my opinion)!

Before we get into the specifics of The Vegan Bridge Technique, I would recommend that as a new vegan, you take the time to develop a solid understanding of the issues that surround veganism.

That way when you’re talking to non-vegans you can engage them in any aspect of the movement that would interest them most.

It also means that when people ask you questions, you can easily answer them with confidence, without making things up, or saying ‘I don’t know.’

And you can refute any illogical arguments that aren’t backed up by science.

Now, I’m not suggesting you need to know everything as there is a lot we can learn about veganism.

However, the questions most non-vegans ask are usually quite similar so you can be prepared in advance by checking out the resources below.

Core Areas surrounding Veganism

So to get started, you can head over to The Definitive Vegan Resource Guide as there is a wealth of information, including the 3 core topics that surround veganism:

  1. ANIMALS: Animal Agriculture Facts & Ethics

  2. ENVIRONMENT: Is Being Vegan Good For The Environment?

  3. HEALTH: Is Veganism Healthy?


There is also a whole section of
documentaries for you to browse through!

Recommended Reading For New Vegans
Staying Up to date As a New vegan
Plant Based News Weekly Newsletter Sign Up

Take a moment now and sign up for the Plant Based News weekly newsletter, that way you always know what’s happening in the vegan movement.

As you’re a new vegan, it’s obviously good to know what’s happening in the community so you can support it, from signing petitions to sharing content on social media and perhaps getting inspired along the way!

But, it’s also great because you can weave this knowledge into your communication with non-vegans, such as:

  • One of their favorite celebrities talking about their life as a new vegan
  • A vegan event nearby they could attend if they’re interested
  • The launch of a new vegan product that might interest them
  • A study being published that relates to their (or loved ones) health condition
  • An environmental or wildlife issue that they care about being driven by animal agriculture

There are so many great things happening in the vegan space, from food to technology, not to mention the massive leaps in science – but unless you’re vegan, you’re probably oblivious to it.

Even as a new vegan, you will be discovering new things every day!

The Vegan Bridge Technique

Development of The Vegan Bridge Technique over the canyon

The Vegan Bridge Technique is a 5-step process that you can follow to become an effective vegan advocate, without alienating non-vegans in the process!

It looks like this:

Step 1: Evaluate The Terrain
Step 2: Schedule The Build
Step 3: Lay The Foundation
Step 4: Erect The Scaffolding
Step 5: Construct The Bridge

Of course, the more you use this method, the better you’ll become at it.

The best bit is, once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to modify the design of the bridge to suit your personality as well as the person you’re talking to!

Right, let’s dive in and I’ll explain each step in detail…

#1: Evaluate The Terrain

Your Goal: Identify the topic that would be of most interest.

Of course, you’re not always going to know the person you’re speaking to…

But, in most cases, with friends and family, you’ll have a good idea of what they care about and what might motivate them to learn more about veganism.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that whatever motivated you to go vegan is the ‘right way’, or only way to make the connection.

The 3 core areas that might interest them are:

Animals: 
Do they have pets and love animals?

Environment:
Are they environmentally conscious and make efforts to minimize their impact?

Health:
Are they, or a loved one suffering from a diet-related disease?

Evaluating the terrain
What topic has the smallest gap to bridge?

Of course, there will be times where you know nothing about the person you’re talking to…

In this case, you can make a few broad generalizations and tailor your approach as you learn more about the person you’re talking to.

Generalizations of people interests are:

  • Older people tend to be more health-conscious.
  • Younger people tend to be more ethically and environmentally aware.
  • Women tend to be more ethically aware, and interested in health/longevity.
  • Men tend to be more protein, muscle, and fitness orientated.
  • Parents tend to be protective of the health and future of their kids.


Remember, these are only broad generalizations, not rules! 

But as I said, they can be useful if you have no prior knowledge about the person you are talking to.

Why Evaluating Their Personal Interests Is Essential

The reality is that veganism and the issues that surround veganism are vast.

And it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to talk to anyone long enough to cover everything…

Why evaluating non vegans interests is so important

Therefore, taking the time to evaluate their interests is essential if you’re going to build a bridge in the right place!

When it comes down to it, there are many reasons why people make the connection and are motivated to go vegan.

  • There are people who make the transition for health and could care less about animals…
  • And on the other hand, there are people who are not at all interested in their own health at all and they simply love animals…
  • And there are people that only care about the environment and their impact on the natural world.

Of course, many people’s reasons are a combination of the 3 areas.

Identify The Shortest Distance To build Your Bridge

Your goal for Step 1, is to simply identify where to build your bridge so you can make the strongest connection by covering the shortest distance.

In this example, this person cares far more about animals more than anything else…

Therefore it makes sense to bridge this gap first.

Bridge the shortest distance

There’s no point in explaining all the health and environmental benefits as it’s going to take you a lot longer to get across to connect with them…

Once you’ve identified the smallest gap it’s time to move onto step 2!

#2: Schedule The Build

Your Goal: Decide when would be best to talk with them.

Now that you’ve given some thought to what area of veganism might interest them most, you can go ahead and decide when it would be best to talk with them.

Taking the time to decide when to talk to someone, is probably the most important step of this process…

And, it’s certainly the most overlooked one.

While you might want to jump in at the earliest possible moment, that’s usually not the best time.

Instead, I want you to be strategic about this…

Why?

If you time it wrong and they immediately get defensive, then they’ll likely dismiss anything you say…

As a result, it’s going to be much harder to start the conversation again in the future…

First impressions matter!

Scheduling Guidelines
A scheduling calendar

Of course, it’s not always going to be perfect timing, but when possible, try to follow these guidelines for best results:

  • As a new vegan, avoid starting a direct conversation about veganism
    I know this can be hard, but saying things like, ‘did you know that pigs are killed in gas chambers’, as they eat a bacon sandwich, won’t get you very far.


    Nor will stating that, ‘meat is murder’, as they eat a steak…

  • Instead, create or find windows of opportunity
    Pay attention to what’s happening around you and you’ll soon discover lots of golden opportunities where you can entice people to start a conversation.

Examples of great opportunities:

When asking about the vegan options at a restaurant, other people at your table are likely to overhear you asking the waiter and it’s just a matter of time before someone starts asking questions!

When being offered a snack such as cheese, you can politely decline – saying that you don’t eat dairy products… which is usually followed by, ‘Why not…’

If someone is talking about losing weight, getting healthy, allergies, or any of the core areas around veganism (animal rights, environment, health), then that would be a perfect moment to draw their attention to veganism.

Allowing someone else to start a conversation about veganism is far more effective than you starting it…

Why?

Simply because they wanted to talk about it, which means they’ll be far more likely to engage in any questions you ask and less likely to get defensive and shut down…

#3: Lay The Foundation

Your Goal: Tell the story of why you’re a new vegan in a non-judgmental way.

Great work, now it’s time to lay the foundation!

As with any construction, the foundation is critical…

If you don’t get this right, nothing else is going to matter.

That being said, don’t stress too much as laying the foundation is easy!

On a human level, the foundation we’re going to build is trust.

Without first establishing trust, people won’t be open to new ideas and will be unlikely to listen to you what you have to say.

The Art Of Storytelling
The Magical Science Of Storytelling | David JP Phillips | TEDxStockholm
The Magical Science Of Storytelling | David JP Phillips | TEDxStockholm

To be human is to tell stories…

Let me me explain.

Human knowledge is based on stories…

That’s literally how we passed down knowledge through the generations before we had written communication and modern technology.

As a result, the human brain consists of the cognitive hardware and software necessary to understand, remember, and tell stories extremely effectively.

Check out the TEDx talk by David JP Phillips for some fascinating real-world examples, plus it’ll also help you craft your own story!

Provided that your story is based on truth, then storytelling is the fastest way to establish trust with someone…

So, that’s exactly what we’re going to tap into when telling someone why you’re a new vegan!

How To Craft Your Story
Writing out my vegan story

The points below will help you tell a compelling story that builds trust and keeps you empathetic towards the other person.

And don’t worry, just in case you’re not clear on some of the points, I’ll give you an example of my story at the end of this section!

  1. Tell The Truth!
    As you’re going to be establishing trust, you must be truthful!

    Don’t over exaggerate or make things up, people tend to have an uncanny ability to detect BS…

  2. Make It Personal
    As a new vegan, you may be tempted to list off all the things you’ve learned… but, people connect with people, not facts, and figures…

    So, save the science and statistics for later when you’re building the bridge. For now, focus on your personal story only!

    Where possible you’ll want to highlight the specific information that would be of interest to the person you’re talking to – animals, health, environment, etc.

  3. Keep It Short
    Try to highlight the key points and avoid rambling on with unnecessary details, else you’ll quickly lose their attention.

  4. Start At Your Beginning
    This means talking about your time as a meat-eater and what your feelings and emotions were as a non-vegan.

  5. Describe Your Old Mindset
    Be sure to talk about the different ways that you didn’t make the connection to veganism.

     

    Such as not knowing about nutrition, or thinking that ‘farmed’ animals were not as intelligent as companion animals, or perhaps believing that humane slaughter existed, etc.

  6. Be Positive!
    Really focus on the positive experiences you have about being vegan.

    –  Got more energy… tell them!
    –  Came off blood pressure meds… talk about it!
    –  Lost 30lb… let them have it!

  7. Avoid Direct AND Indirect Judgment
    Obviously you don’t want to directly judge someone directly, but in-direct judgment can be just as damaging.

    For example, you can talk about how you didn’t make the connection between meat and animals, without calling your past self a hypocrite, which would indirectly be calling them a hypocrite.

    Now, I’m not saying you should never talk about hypocrisy – however, it’s rarely a good starting point.

  8. Avoid Graphic Content
    As tempting as it might be, don’t talk about killing, slaughter, blood, guts, or gore – unless someone asks about it…

    Doing so will quickly shut them down and they’ll simply stop listening to you…


    Of course, you can talk about animal suffering and exploitation without being overly graphic.

My Story
Rich Emmerson month vegan transformation
My 18 month transformation from meat eater to vegan

So you have a clear idea of exactly what a story might sound like, here’s mine:

‘I’ve always loved animals…

In fact, I grew up with 4 cats and my grandparents had a dog that I used to walk on Sundays when I visited them.

When I was younger I always ate animal products as that was just normal… man, I just loved cheese – I would have cheese on everything!

And to be honest, I just never thought about the animals on my plate being just as intelligent or aware – I guess I thought they were somehow different to the ones I loved.

That all changed for me when someone close to me had cancer…

Before the diagnosis, this person was pretty healthy so I decided to look into what might have caused it…

This ended up with me researching the link between nutrition and disease…’

The China Study
The renowned China Study that paved the way for the plant-based movement

‘Honestly, I couldn’t believe how much evidence there is against eating animal products, especially when it comes to preventing chronic disease and hormonal cancers such as breast and prostate cancer.

I also learned about the unavoidable cruelty in all animal products – even cheese and eggs, which I thought could be humanely produced.

So, I quickly eliminated all animal products and discovered a whole new world of food and flavors that I had never tried before!

Though to be fair, I was worried about going vegan as I was always super skinny, even when eating a mountain of dairy products and eggs everyday!

But once I learned about plant-based nutrition, got my eating habits on track and started working out, I actually gained 20lb of muscle!

And the rest, as they say, is history!’

Priming Your Story

Depending on who I’m talking to, I will prime my story and the following conversation toward their specific interests…

Priming your story
Narrowing down the conversation points for the person I'm talking to

For example, if the person I’m talking to cares more about animals than anything else, then I would focus more on that area of veganism.

Right, over to you!

With this information fresh in your mind, grab a pen and paper, or notepad on your phone and craft your story.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t need to be perfect and it will change and evolve over time…

Once you’ve written it out, it’ll be much easier to remember the next time you’re talking to someone.

Once you’ve done that, we’ll jump into step 4!

#4: Erect The Scaffolding

Goal: Set guidelines that will keep you & the conversation effective & on point.

Guide #1: Get In The Mindset Of Your Old Non-Vegan Self
Rich thinking back to his old self

A good rule of thumb is to talk to non-vegans in a way that you would’ve liked a vegan to have spoken to you – before you made the connection and went vegan.

After all, as a new vegan it wasn’t so long ago that you were just like them, so avoid patronizing or preaching.

Ultimately, you want to be relatable and approachable.

Rather than thinking that you already know it all, position yourself as if you want to learn something from them (which you usually can).

Guide #2: Keep a positive spin on things
Rich keeping a positive spin on things

I know… this can be a tough one…

Especially as you’re a new vegan and probably full of passion!

As you’re well aware, there are so many negative things associated with eating animal products that it can be easy to only focus on that, from the cruelty to the health impact and environmental degradation.

However by default people tend to be defensive about what they eat, so trying to combat defensiveness with negativity won’t usually get you very far.

Instead, try focusing on the positives of being vegan…

For example:

‘But where do you get your protein?’

Negative:
‘Didn’t you know all plants have protein… getting it from animals is barbaric.’

Positive:
‘There are a ton of great tasting, high protein plant foods. As a new vegan, I’ve learned that all original protein comes from plants, so we can get it directly from the source without eating animals.’

Keeping a positive spin on things works well because people are attracted to happy and positive people…

Therefore they’ll be more likely to listen to what you have to say.

It also means they’ll feel less judged, meaning they’ll be open to new ideas – which is perfect!

Of course, I’m not saying you should never talk about the negative topics, but perhaps save that for later on in the conversation when they’re more engaged and you’ve developed a strong connection with them.

Guide #3: Stay calm!
Rich meditating and staying calm

This is another tough one when you’re a new vegan…

But, with practice, I promise you will get better!

So, if someone is getting emotional towards you, then avoid getting sucked into it by doing the following:

  • Control your breathing – keep it slow, and steady!

  • Keep the tone, tempo, and volume of your voice the same.

  • Let them finish their sentences by taking a breath before you reply

  • Take their arguments seriously and debunk with logic and reason

In your day to day life, consider daily meditation to help you stay calm, and working out to release any frustration and anger that builds up.

Guide #4: Control Your Body Language
Rich being very excited

As you’re probably already aware…

Your non-verbal communication is just as important as what you do or don’t say.

So, with that in mind, here are a few pointers to consider the next time you’re talking to a non-vegan.

1. Have a genuine smile
Be genuinely happy to connect with someone and share that positive emotion with a smile. This will quickly diffuse any apprehension they might have about you and you’ll feel better too!

2. Laugh!
Of course, only when appropriate…

Laughing will help you both feel more connected and will help disarm any negativity or preconceived judgments they have about you.

3. Mirror them
This simply means that you follow their lead…

For example, if they’re upbeat and excited, you also present yourself as upbeat and excited too.

Likewise, if they’re more calm and collected, match that instead.

You can also mirror body posture and hand gestures too!

The goal is simply to communicate with them in a style that they recognize and understand.

Rich mirroring when talking about veganism

Quick Tips:
First, don’t overdo mirroring, otherwise, people may feel uneasy!

Second, avoid mirroring negative non-verbals such as turning away, checking a phone, folding arms, etc.

4. Pay Attention!
It goes without saying that you want to listen closely to what the other person is saying and have empathy toward their position.

As you talk back and forward, really listen to them, don’t just wait until they stop talking so you can have your say!

Instead, be fully engaged and present by looking into their eyes and show that you understand what they are saying by nodding your head.

5. Hand Gestures
The benefits of hand gestures are two-fold:

First, they make it easier for people to understand what you are saying…

Second, they help you to clarify what you are saying…

So win-win!

Quick Tip:
You can learn all about the art and science of hand gestures over here.

#5: Construct The Bridge

Goal: Develop your connection, bridge the gap, & reach a mutual understanding.

Great work, we’re onto the last step!

Now, you may be wondering why part of the goal is to reach a mutual understanding..?

Of course, you probably won’t agree with each other on everything and that’s ok…

That being said, you still need to understand what they are saying.

As it happens, you may be someone’s first encounter with a vegan, so let’s aim to leave a good impression!

Make Or Break
Bridge Explosion

When it comes to developing the conversation, how you do it can make or break your bridge!

When done wrong, the bridge will collapse leaving the other person cut off and as a result, the conversation will quickly shut down…

But, when done right – you can bridge the gap and open them up to a world of possibilities and perhaps even find yourself a new vegan friend!

Learn.. Practice.. and Learn some more!

To reiterate an earlier point in the post, as a new vegan, you’re going to be far more effective at communication if you have a good base of knowledge to work from.

Then as you start talking to non-vegans you’ll be exposed to more questions that you can research and learn the answers to.

And the cycle continues…

The Construction Techniques

The comunication and construction techniques

When it comes to building the conversation, there are many communication techniques that exist, so in this section, I’m going only to cover the ones most relevant to you as a new vegan…

Do you remember the steps from how to craft your story from step 3:

  • Tell The Truth
  • Make It Personal
  • Describe Your Old Mindset
  • Be Positive
  • Avoid Direct AND Indirect Judgment
  • Avoid Graphic Content

Apply them to the following techniques and you’ll be doing great!
Technique #1: Highlight Common Ground
Rich finding common ground when talking about veganism

When talking to a non-vegan, it’s easy to imagine that there is no common ground!

But, keep an open mind and you’ll be surprised how much common ground there is…

Take a look at this example of Earthling Ed VS The Hunter.

Right off the bat, after the hunter has answered the first question regarding the morality of eating meat, Ed immediately highlights the common ground they share.

“What we both agree on there is that we want people to be connected to what they eat, and mindlessly shopping in the supermarket is the last thing we want.”

Finding common ground reinforces the bridge and makes your connection to them stronger as you’re being relatable.

Quick Tip:
Highlight the common ground early on in the conversation to quickly establish more trust.

Technique #2: Ask open-ended questions
Rich asking an open ended question with lots of space around it

Asking open-ended questions is part of the Socratic method, used to engage people in critical thinking…

When doing so, you’ll be giving the non-vegan space to think for themselves so they can come to their own conclusion and uncover their own truth.

This is much better than the common new vegan approach, which is stating how things are, from your point of view.

And the good news is because you’re a new vegan, you can think back to when you made the connection to veganism…

What was it that clicked for you?

And how can you guide others toward it with an open question?

Examples of closed statements VS open-questions:

Closed: ‘There is no such thing as humane slaughter.’
Open: ‘What does a humane slaughter look like to you?’

Closed: ‘Animals shouldn’t be killed for food.’
Open: ‘Do you think humans can live without killing and eating animals?’

Closed: ‘Eating animals is barbaric.’
Open: ‘Is there a difference between eating a dog and eating a pig?’

Closed: ‘There is no justification for what we do to animals.’
Open: ‘Do you think the momentary pleasure of taste is worth more than the life of an animal?’

Help them connect the dots
Connecting the dots

During this process, your job is simply to help this person find out what their morals are and if their actions are aligned with them.

Once you get the hang of open-ended questions, you can start to string them together.

An effective set of questions Earthling Ed uses is:

Q: Do you think animal cruelty is wrong?
A: Yes
Q: Do you think we need to eat animals to survive?
A: No
Q: If we don’t need to eat animals to survive, then do you think killing them unnecessarily is, therefore, an act of cruelty?

Side note: If you haven’t already done so, then I highly recommend downloading Earthling Ed’s free ebook: 30 Non-Vegan Excuses & How to Respond to Them

Technique #3: Focus and Stay on track
Close up of Rich focusing with hands either side of the camera

I’ll be honest… this is easier said than done!

When people are defensive or unable to answer a question, they tend to go off-topic immediately.

It’s like their logical mind shuts down and ego-preservation mode kicks in, usually resulting in:

  • Plants have feelings tho…
  • Lions tho…
  • Bacon tho…
  • If you were on a hypothetical desert island with nothing but a pig tho…


If you’re not careful this will derail the conversation.

So if you feel like it, then you can answer these diversions briefly…

That being said, you’ll want to get back to addressing the real issue that you were talking about immediately afterward.

Technique #4: End Positive
Rich reaching out to shake your hand

Throughout the conversation, you’ll have the chance to plant some seeds of knowledge and hopefully leave the non-vegan curious…

So, before you go your separate ways, you’ll want to take the opportunity to share some resources with them so they can learn more about veganism.


You can say something like:

‘I appreciate you talking about this with me, as I know that it can be hard! If you like I can give you a few resources that you can check out?

Remember, as a new vegan you are now on the front line of the movement…

So, make sure you always end on a positive note!

Common Construction Mistakes

During your conversation, you’ll want to watch out for these common mistakes that vegans (especially new vegans) can make.

Mistake #1: Being Combative And Trying to Win
Rich getting ready to fight

The biggest mistake new vegans make is trying to be ‘right’ or trying to ‘win’.

Why is this a mistake?

Well, doing so implies that you’re in competition – which you’re not.

Remember, you’re trying to bridge the gap to the non-vegan in the shortest distance.

In fact, if the person you’re talking with senses you’re trying to make them wrong, they’ll simply get defensive and shut down…

At which point, for all intents and purposes the conversation is over as they’ll no longer be open to new ideas.

If you try to ‘win’, then everyone loses!

Key Takeaway

Avoid telling the other person how they should feel, what they should think, what you would do in their position, etc.

This will quickly erode any trust that you have established, your bridge will collapse and the conversation will shut down.

And most likely leave a lasting negative impression like…

‘Vegans are preachy, know it alls, forcing their opinions down my throat…’

Instead, ask open-ended questions that guide them to their own truth.

Mistake #2: Pushing them too hard to go vegan
Rich trying to push but unable to move

When it comes down to it, the more you push, the more they’ll resist…

The good news is, that most people already agree with the ethics of veganism:

‘Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.’

– Vegan Society

And I think it’s fair to say that not many people go around intentionally trying to exploit and use animals…

Therefore, you just need to help them connect the dots, without judging, patronizing, or pressuring them.

Mistake #3: Not supporting reductionism
Rich looking snobby and not supporting reductionism

If we’re being realistic, then it’s unlikely that you’re going to witness the awakening of a new vegan on the spot!

And if you do, it’s probably because whoever you’re talking to has been exposed to veganism several times before talking to you…

So, if you can see that someone isn’t ready to make the shift to being 100% just yet, then support them in being ‘as vegan as possible.’

Non-vegans tend to be far more receptive to this approach as it seems more possible from their current situation.

Reductionism isn’t veganism

Now, I know that some people in the vegan community strongly oppose any form of reductionism.

And I get it… I used to have the same point of view…

After all, even if someone only eats a little bit of meat, the animal still has to die.

However, if a non-vegan is not ready to commit and you don’t want to alienate them and shut down the conversation, then you will need some some middle ground where you can meet them at.

Veganism is still the goal
Veganism is still the goal

Now, supporting someone to ‘be as vegan a possible’ isn’t making reductionism the end goal…

It’s still perfectly clear that veganism is still the goal…

As a result, they’ll feel that they’re able to start moving in that direction – after all, anyone can ‘be as vegan as possible’.

And it also means that they’ll be reflecting on their food choices more often, which can only be a good thing.

Therefore, supporting someone to be as vegan as possible is far more beneficial in the long run than shaming them for not going 100% and losing their trust.

Being as vegan as possible
Melanie Joy - Founder of carnism.org

Being ‘as vegan as possible’ is a term coined by Melanie Joy, a social psychologist, and vegan advocate.

Now, there a three good reasons why suggesting that they can ‘be as vegan as possible’ is a valuable approach:

Reason #1
It makes it far easier to maintain a respectful conversation and reach a mutual understanding where you can still influence them.

And if they don’t feel pressured to change overnight, then they’re more likely to listen to future vegans and be more receptive when they read articles or watch documentaries about the movement.

Reason #2
Even if they don’t go 100% vegan, you still will have had the opportunity to set them up on the right track and give them some great resources about veganism

This means they’re more likely to learn more about veganism and make the connection in the future, and less likely to get sucked into fads such as the Carnivore Diet.

95% of people who order vegan burgers when dining out aren’t even vegetarians or vegan

Reason #3
This is perhaps the most overlooked factor…and one that persuaded me to take a different approach.

The reality is that vegans make up less than 1% of the population, so it’s fair to say that the exponential rise in popularity we’re seeing in the mainstream, is not from vegans alone.

Industry giants like McDonald’s do not change their menu for less than 1% of the population.

On the other hand, consider that those trying to ‘be as vegan as possible’ AKA reducetarians, make up one-third of the population.

These are people who eat vegan options but aren’t 100% vegan…

They are a significant portion of the population and it’s these people that industry giants listen to.

In fact, 95% of people who order vegan burgers in the US aren’t vegetarians or vegan!

So there is a massive knock-on effect as more people adopt a lifestyle of trying to be as vegan as possible:

  • More vegan products become available
  • Therefore more people are exposed to veganism
  • More options also make for an easier vegan transition
  • As a result more people will make the transition and go vegan

All of which will move us towards a vegan future much faster!

What Happens Next?

What happens next

So, you followed The Vegan Bridge Technique…

You told them your story…

Talked about the most relevant topics…

Asked open-ended questions…

Helped them to realize that their morals and actions aren’t quite aligned…

Found some common ground and ideally had a laugh or two along the way…

So, what happens next…

THEY GO VEGAN!?!

Right…

Unfortunately, no…

Even if you have the most profound conversation, most people will not go vegan on the spot.

It takes time to process the new information and to deal with the tangle of emotions they are experiencing.

Unless you went vegan overnight or were born vegan, then you’ll be able to relate to this…

Just because you’ve put in the time and effort to connect with them, that doesn’t mean they owe you anything.

You need to accept that the other person may not change their opinion… at least not at that exact moment.

The Big Picture
Topographic map of vegans VS meat eaters
The big picture of vegans VS meat eaters

What’s important is that you’ve had a good quality conversation with respect towards each other.

That they don’t (hopefully…) go away thinking that vegans are crazy, irrational lunatics running around hugging trees!

If all has gone well, after talking with you they’ll probably realize that they have a lot in common with veganism than they first thought!

And as a result of this conversation, you’ve been able to plant some seeds in their mind and establish trust so that they can reach out to you again if they want to.

This is invaluable.

With the resources you give them, they’ll be able to research veganism in their own time and come to their own conclusions.

As frustrating as it may be, you cannot force them…

Of course, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.

As a new vegan, you get to lead by example – don’t underestimate the effect this can have on others…

Honor the process

The first time you use The Vegan Bridge Technique, don’t stress out if it didn’t go quite as you hoped…

Very few people are born as good communicators, it’s a skill and over time you will become better and better at it.

Bookmark this page and keep coming back to it until you know The Vegan Bridge Technique like the back of your hand…

Other than that, talk to more people and keep learning, and you’ll be a vegan communication master before you know it!

Recap

Let’s quickly recap the 5 steps of The Vegan Bridge Technique:

Development of The Vegan Bridge Technique over the canyon

Step 1: Evaluate The Terrain
Identify the topic that would be of most interest.

Step 2: Schedule The Build
Decide when would be best to talk with them.

Step 3: Lay The Foundation
Tell your story of why you became a new vegan in a non-judgmental way.

Step 4: Erect The Scaffolding
Establish the guidelines that will keep you and your conversation effective & on point.

Step 5: Construct The Bridge
Develop your connection, bridge the gap and reach a mutual understanding

Now, It’s Over To You!

There you have it, that’s The Vegan Bridge Technique, broken down step-by-step!

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