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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 thoughts:

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 www.christianveg.org/freemembership.htm.


Hi Randi,

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 consideration to.

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.

~ Charlie


It can be tough. As you have seen many of us have had struggles with our conviction.
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 months.

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

Hi Randi,

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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