VegSource | John Robbins

Sharing Veg*nism with Others
with John Robbins

Recently, our own Tom Cat (Tom Owen Meinen) posed this question to John Robbins.

Tom:  What do you think is the best way to share vegetarian ideas with meat eaters so that it's not threatening, nonjudgmental?

John Robbins: Leading by example and enjoying yourself, because joy is contagious and people will want to be like you and they'll ask, "What are you doing?" Always ask if people want to know. If they say yes, you have the green light.

If they don't say yes -- if they say no -- don't cast your pearls in that situation, because people are at certain readiness and sometimes they're not ready to hear something. Then all you can do is lead by example.

But understand this: if you carry vision -- every culture has its dissension -- you're a pioneer, and you can always tell the pioneers by the arrows in their back. So when they criticize you or mock you or ridicule you or generally don't listen to you, that's part of the course -- know that comes with the territory. Don't react to it in an upset manner, because if you emotionally react, they've got you. They'll just play with you, and they've proven that you don't have a sense of humor. They've proven that you think you're "more vegetarian than thou" or "more vegan than thou."

You know what I mean? When people have said to me, "Why are you vegetarian," sometimes I just say "Because I love it -- because I love life -- because I want to be as healthy as I can be so that I can enjoy life to the fullest." Other times I've said, "Because I love animals. Animals are my friends, and I don't make it a practice to eat my friends."

But the whole thing is to do it with that feeling of connectedness to the power that is within them, because when you put groups in a box, they feel it. When you create that wall of separation, they feel it, and that's why that's such an important question. You have here lots of opportunities in this culture to do it. My parents wouldn't listen to me. I wrote Diet for a New America and they wouldn't read it. As a matter of fact, my mother, bless her heart, when I sent her the book, wrote back, "Why did you write this book, just to hurt us?"

I went to visit them some time after that and the issue of food came up. I said, "It's okay, Mom, you just make what you're comfortable with and I'll make our food."

She said, "You will not cook tofu in my kitchen!" Great understanding.

I said, "Okay, but I'm not going to eat the meat, because that's not in alignment with my values right now, so go ahead. I'll just have a salad."

She said, "But you're just skin and bones." We kept going here and we weren't productive for quite a long time. And that's part of it. The work -- the great work -- of being present is staying in touch with our hearts, staying in touch with the life force and its positive creativity even in difficult circumstances.

We are pioneers and what we're doing is forging trails that the great majority of people will walk on soon enough but can't see it yet. They'll be very grateful that we've made the trail. They don't have the courage to walk out until it's been proven safe. We're proving it safe. You haven't died. You haven't fallen over from ..."Where's your protein?" I might have fallen over for how many times people say, "Well where are you getting your protein?" At one point I said to my mother when she was in maybe her last month, "I wrote a book. You can read it."

You do what you can. And you just love people. When you have love in your heart, people can feel it when your heart is alive to them.

John Robbins is author of numerous books, including "Diet For A New America,"
and is the founder of EarthSave International.

See Tom's article on Sharing Vegetarianism with Meat Eaters