Resentment and Frustration in Dealing with Family and Friends
This discussion deals with the common feelings that Christian
vegetarians experience on a regular basis, especially when sharing their
beliefs with other Christians and family members. Members offer support,
encouragement and their opinion on how to handle remarks made by other
people who might not be open to the message of good stewardship of all
of God’s creation through a plant-based diet.
Hello everyone, I hope you are all doing well. I am running into a
bit of a problem myself. I am a Christian-vegan. Christian for a year
and vegan for a few months. I know only very well the frustrations of
trying to get the message across to others. It's beginning to become a
problem with me. I have shared the message with members of my family,
friends and my fellow church members all the positive benefits of
vegetarianism. I share it in a kind, non-judgmental way of course. When
asked why I chose this way of life I explain it very simply and honestly
and I make sure I make sense and that there is nothing uncovered.
Everyone seems to reject it and they tell me that God put animals here
for us to do whatever we want with. I almost want to explode when I hear
this. I also hear that they love meat too much to stop eating it. This
also makes me very angry. I have gotten to the point where I almost
don't want to talk with and be around these people anymore. My feelings
inside become something I don't care to feel and I don't think that it's
healthy for me. These people are shown and told about the horrors of the
meat industry and they don't seem to care. I consider this animal
cruelty and I don't like people that are cruel to and support cruelty
towards animals. What am I supposed to do in this situation?
I pray of course for guidance but the more I do so the more it fuels
the passion inside me. How do I deal with this? The people that I am
closest to are the ones who seem to reject it the most. I am almost to
the point where I am too frustrated to be around these people now. This
I know is not very healthy but either is being around them feeling too
upset and frustrated. If anyone can give me any advice or comforts I
would be very grateful. Thank you.
I think a lot of us can empathize with your experience, Randi. A few
1. Family are often the hardest to talk to about diet. There are
often other issues of control, resentments, rivalries, jealousies, etc.
that color (and often muddy) the conversational.
2. People often want to believe that we are being judgmental, even
when we are not, as an excuse to change the topic to a more comfortable
topic -- whether or not we are being judgmental, rather than whether or
not they should change their diet.
3. Often, we come across as judgmental, even if we try not to. I get
the sense from your letter that you may be judgmental (e.g., "I don't
like people that are cruel to and support cruelty towards animals"), and
they may have sensed this. I am not saying that you should condone
cruelty -- you should definitely make judgments! However, condemning
people for their choices is being judgmental. Who knows what issues make
it hard for them to change. While they may defend their practices with
the Bible, deep down they may have a lot of fears that make it difficult
for them to consider changing their diets. I am not saying that you
should choose to revere people who show no mercy for animals, but I
would be very hesitant to condemn them.
4. It sounds like you have felt frustrated, which readily leads to
anger. I wonder whether family members have sensed anger, creating
further barriers to constructive conversation.
5. It may be helpful to talk to family members from who you are
feeling alienated to talk about your feelings -- not to "convert" them
to a plant-based diet but to mend fences. If they regard you as hostile,
they will never take you or your beliefs seriously. Talking about your
sense of alienation as well as how it seems to you that they have not
taken you seriously, though some families do a better job of
communicating than others. An important point -- don't talk about them
or what they say or do. Talk about the way you feel and how things seem
to you. In other words, direct the comments towards yourself, not them.
The former engages, the latter encourages defensiveness.
6. Prophesy involves witnessing to the truth. We are all called to be
prophets, and we should follow our calling. However, prophets tend to be
rejected, and this is an unfortunate consequence of answering our call.
Prophesy can be uplifting and meaningful, as well as discouraging and
lonely. For those who are interested, I have a series of essays on
prophesy to be published with the CVA e-newsletter, with the first
scheduled for publication on October 1.
To receive the e-newsletter, go to
I imagine many people on this list identify with your feelings and
would respond "yes" to all of our questions. Far from being "crazy," it
sounds like you're an excellent vessel for the Christian vegetarian
message. I expect you are much more effective than you imagine.
Being a Christian vegetarian can be a very lonely place. I like your
imagery of being an Arch Angel, because I think what sensitive souls
must learn is to be vigilant in the face of criticism and
abuse, sometimes from surprising sources. My advice is to learn to
accept the slings and arrows, without taking them personally. I know
it's hard sometimes.
It gladdens my heart to know you're doing God's work in this world. I
have no doubt you will contribute to making this world a better place
for animals and humans, both.
God Bless. ~candyrabbit89
I’ll be judgmental for just a moment and say I think the replies
you’ve received here from others offer excellent advice!
A book I’ve found helpful is Carol Adams’ “Living Among Meat Eaters.”
It offers general advice and specific tips to deal with everyday
frustrations all of us encounter, I’m sure. One that I’ve found
particularly helpful is this: don’t talk at the dinner table about the
ethics of eating. Avoid the subject there but offer to follow up later
with a discussion, or often better yet, some pamphlet or other
informational material that they can contemplate alone without feeling
pressured to defend their position, which they’ve probably given little
I think the CVA’s DVD “Honoring God’s Creation” is an inspired and
powerful choice to offer to lend to others. Its sincere, beautifully
simple, and direct but non-judgmental approach provides us a great
opportunity to open hearts to Jesus’ message of peace and compassion.
It can be tough. As you have seen many of us have had struggles with
I believe if there is so much resistance, then this is a strong message
that we have to carry on.
I have been a vegetarian for 16 years. It was much harder back then
to be vegetarian than it is now. I have always tried to have a soft
approach. In the beginning I did not talk about it much. My family and
some friends were freaked out, but because I refused to get into it with
them, they dropped the battle. Eventually even my totally meat and
potatoes parents came around and made sure they always served me
vegetarian food. They have not become vegetarian, but there is mutual
respect for our choices.
I have never pushed it on my daughter. I always told her it was her
decision and she is now 16 and has become a vegetarian in the last 6
Not judging meat eaters is really challenging. Remember we all have
taken different paths to come to this point. We did not always think
this way and most people have not made the connection.
Sadly, the most hostility that I have experienced has been from
Christians. A few have verbally attacked me. I absolutely refused to
engage with them. There must be something to this extreme defensiveness.
Obviously with that much hostility, I hit a nerve, and maybe on some
level they know I am right. I make an effort to avoid spending time with
people who are going to be this aggressive.
I have many dear, close friends that are not vegetarians. We respect
each other and it is not an
I recently have been more dedicated to the issue and I am realizing
that I need to be around more
I am looking into starting a support group. Maybe there is one
available in your area, or you could
start one. I am going to start going to large vegan pot luck dinners
that are hosted by an animal rights group. There are only a few
Christians involved, but I found all of them very open minded and
accepting and they think the CVA is cool.
Pray about it. Ask our lord for guidance.
Know that you are not alone. Your choice is having a huge impact.
Surround yourself with people that support you.
All the best. Peace and blessings. ~Anita
The feelings you are having I can safely say are fairly common among
us. Following your heart and your passion/vocation can sometimes be a
pretty bumpy road and Jesus warned us about that. Nevertheless, your
life is a witness to the love and compassion that Jesus calls us to
follow. I have lost count of the times I tried to spread the message
about vegetarianism as good stewardship of all of God's creation and got
very insensitive and cruel comments. Keep in mind that the "true
prophets," throughout the ages, have been the target of such words to
say the least. Most of them were tortured and killed (Jesus being the
prime example). I'm not saying you should accept any kind of abuse, but
you can respectfully and lovingly try to spread the message. The results
are beyond our hands. All we can do it to hope and pray that we plant a
lot of seeds through out life. ~ Lorena
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