Should Vegans Preach?


ll never forget the first dinner party I went to when after going vegan. I was in the honeymoon phase, and I went eager to convince others to adopt my ways. When I arrived, I excitedly shared about my new lifestyle and was crestfallen when no one seemed to care.

When I think about it now, I cringe at how preachy I was. What’s worse is that I gave into temptation and ate my share of non-vegan food. That really showed everyone how great my lifestyle was!

I’m better at handling parties now. For one thing, I rarely cheat anymore. It helps that I usually bring vegan goodies to keep me from being tempted. I’ve also stopped preaching. This is not to say that I don’t talk about my vegan lifestyle, because I do if it comes up. I just don’t have an agenda.

Sure, I want others to go vegan, but I don’t believe that preaching works. I think of it like this. When I go to a store and a salesperson says, “Can I help you?” I get annoyed and immediately answer, “No, I’m just looking.”

Alternatively, when a salesperson simply greets me and then says something like, “Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions.” This makes me feel good, and if I do have a question I’ll ask.

I realize now that my preaching was only turning people off. So now I just live my life according to my values and let people ask me questions if they’re curious. And since my lifestyle is unusual, people ask me about it all the time. This is when true dialogue begins.

Photo courtesy of Vegan Cooking.

About celestedimilla

Hey there. I’m Celeste, California girl, writer, psychotherapist and burgeoning plant-based foodie.
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43 Responses to Should Vegans Preach?

  1. Renard Moreau says:

    [ Laughs ] It is all up to the vegan to decide if they want to preach or not.

    Thanks for another great article, my vegan friend!

  2. Hmnn…good question Celeste. I will preach on FB and on blogs. As for dinner parties I prefer to now have my vegan life questioned or assalted. I find that I just try to eat to my meal in peace and then someone notices I am not eating meat. I will respond I am vegan and leave it there. But unfortunately my experience has been that once I say I am vegan the meat eaters take that as some kind of threat and assalt and then commence to tell me why I am wrong about meat eating. So it’s at that point where my choice is not being respected that I respond with full guns to being vegan. If someone asks me why I am vegan I tell them I don’t believe in partcipating in cruelty or violence to animals. The polite person would leave me to eating in peace after that but not everyone is nice or polite. Of course if I am around family I just tell them that eating dead corpses just grossed me out.



    • What a thoughtful comment Ivonne. I guess I’ve been pretty fortunate at parties. I don’t ever feel that someone has challenged me about not eating meat. Of course, I generally hang out with the same group of people who know me well. I rarely go to a party where I’m meeting new people who don’t already know I’m vegan. Last Christmas, however; I met a few new people and my veganism came up, but no one challenged me about it. In fact, one person told me that they’d been considering going vegan and asked a lot of questions about how to eat a healthy vegan diet. I know other vegans, however; who have had bad experiences with telling others about their diet. By the way, I love that you tell your family that eating dead corpses grosses you out – that’s classic!! Have a great week Ivonne! Celeste 🙂

    • That is sad for your niece Ivonne. It’s hard when you’re young and living with your parents not to do what they want you to do. I bet your niece will become vegan in time. It’s nice that she has some vegan role models, like you, to look to when she’s ready to make the change. Celeste 🙂

    • I hosted a vegan Thanksgiving last year, but only two people showed up for it. I’m going to a non-vegan Thanksgiving at my aunts house this year, but next year I’ll probably host another vegan non-turkey day. You’re not that far from me Ivonne, so I’ll invite you the next time I host a vegan Thanksgiving. Celeste 🙂

  3. that should a not, not a “now” in the previous comment……

    • Hi Ivonne! Another very thoughtful, powerful and well written comment! And I absolutely agree with you that we shouldn’t be silent. Still there are various ways to be heard, and for me preaching is not one of them.The reason I don’t preach is that I don’t believe that it makes an impact. Yes, I wish everyone was vegan and that all animals were treated with respect. However; it is my belief that if I preach to others about this that they will tune me out and the message will never get through to them. I even believe that it might make them ‘less’ receptive to being vegan. I know that before I went vegan I didn’t listen to others who preached to me about veganism. I don’t know if my beliefs around this are accurate, they are just my personal beliefs from my own experiences. So instead of preaching, I choose to let people ask me about my lifestyle choice so that I can talk to those who will be receptive. I feel that this has a greater impact on people and makes greater change. But believe me, I am still very saddened when I see people eating meat. Thanks for your thoughts Ivonne – I appreciate them!! Celeste 🙂

      • Thank you Celeste for being so kind. I am all for “preaching”, however prefer not to do it at dinner table unless of course I get cornered by a eat meater. But that’s the reason I usually turn down invitations for Thanksgiving dinners. I usually stay home eating vegan thanksgiving with my dogs. However outside of dinner–yeah most likely I will say something if it comes up. My mom keeps arguing with me that I am wrong about diary because when she was a little girl in P.R. she saw the cows living happy in the fields. i have told her it’s not the same situation any more but she refuses to acknowledge it even though both she and her husband have so many health issues that I know would be changed if they changed their diet….sigh……

  4. aouatt77 says:

    I agree with your article but I often have to defend my vegan lifestyle. The main question is, do you get any protein?

    • A lot of people ask me about protein too. Our society is so caught up on the whole protein issue! Thanks so much for your comment – I appreciate it! Celeste 🙂

      • sophiazerg says:

        And the ironic part is how little protein we actually need in our diets! Besides, the fact that so many studies show that plant-based proteins are way healthier than animal based always makes me question why meat-eaters are SO concerned with my protein intake. My sister’s toddler has just been diagnosed with a bovine allergy (red meat) and my sis was asking me about protein rich foods. I then told her how much protein she actually needs in a day, and it was something like 10 grams per day for her toddler. The protein issue is really a NON-issue. 🙂

    • Hey Sophia! The protein issue should be a NON-issue, but it’s not. One of the things I learned when I first went plant-based is how little I knew about nutrition. I thought I knew a lot about, but I only knew the myths perpetuated by society like you need milk for calcium. It is really sad that so many people are eating what they believe to be a healthy diet, when it’s not healthy at all. Celeste 🙂

      • sophiazerg says:

        I’m with you on that one, Celeste! Only once I became a vegetarian did I really start questioning what mainstream marketing and big food corps told us was healthy and necessary. So in a way, as much as I hate to preach and really try not to, it’s great to educate people. I guess your approach is what I agree with and normally do- if someone is interested and inquiring, then I’ll share everything I know 😉

    • Educating without becoming preachy and turning people off is such a fine line! I try to do this, but it’s a challenge. Celeste 🙂

  5. laurasmess says:

    Definitely don’t preach. I’m friends with a few vegans (I eat a lot of plant-based foods but I haven’t gone entirely vegan) and they’ve got a very, very bad reputation for being ‘annoying preachers’ and for ‘imposing’ their life choice on others. Whenever I hang out with my non-vegan friends there’s often a moment where one of the vegans is brought up in conversation as a joke. Not that I join in… but I’m just offering the alternate perspective, as someone who supports both camps! I know that respect is given to vegans who stick to their life choice but respect others equally… a bit like religion, in a sense. Those who try to impose their ideals will very often be treated with negativity. Particularly if the vegan (speaking from experience here!) tells others that her vegan diet has helped regulate her bowel motions. Good for her, but nobody wants to know about that!!!

    • Hey Laura! Thanks so much for the lovely comment. I know I was preachy when I first went vegan and I’m sure I irritated a lot of people. I was probably brought up as a joke by my family and friends when I wasn’t around back then, and I deserved it! I try very hard not to preach now. It helps me to remember that I would have been annoyed if someone preached to me about their diet or lifestyle before I went vegan. And I can’t believe that someone shared about her bowel motions with you – that’s pretty funny. Celeste 🙂

      • You know the thing about being Vegan is that it is not just a diet choice but a lifestyle choice that has at it’s core a desire to not particpate in the animal holocoust (sp?) that is currently going on in our planet. How is it possible to not be vocal at the attrocities that are going on in the world at the moment? How is possible to say bon appetite–go ahead and enjoy your choice of a steak dinner when you know of the horrors that it took to get that steak on the plate? Was it preaching when non Jews spoke out against Hitler? Is is preaching when we speak out against the horrors of Dufar? At what point does one stay silent because you don’t want to be percieved as a preacher? If no one starts to speak out and educate then nothing will change… not being vegan one is participating in cruel horrors and the slow eradication of the planet we live on. Will it still be preaching as yet another animal species becomes extinct? Will it still be called preaching when humans reach the point of no sustianabilty on the planet? Hmnnn, something to think about isn’t it?

      • laurasmess says:

        I know! I was completely surprised with the bowel ‘oversharing’ but hey, it was important to her and potentially some other people would have found that information useful 🙂 I think you have the right balance in place now. I think we all learn the hard way in regards to anything we’re passionate about… it’s easy to want to just preach to everyone. Yay for the wisdom that comes through hindsight xx

    • I really appreciate all of your thoughtful comments Laura! It means a lot to me that you read my blog and share your thoughts. I hope you’re having a wonderful week! Celeste 🙂

  6. Mike Lince says:

    I think the vegan movement is still somewhat controversial like same sex marriage, and non-vegans often tend to react emotionally when the topic comes up. Witness the popular jokes and cartoons about different ways to eat bacon and bumper stickers like ‘Man didn’t evolve to the top of the food chain to eat vegetables.’ I think non-vegans will come around once they have had the opportunity to sample a few yummy dishes like the vegan tacos and the key lime pie we dined on at Café Gratitude and those we share at Au Lac. You and Paul just happen to be in the early stages of the vegan movement. Look how many restaurants have added “V” menu options in just the past couple of years. I think you will ultimately be considered pioneers in the growing movement. Just keep sharing your delicious recipes. Your healthy appearance and radiant smile will say all the rest. – Mike

    • Thanks for your lovely comment Mike! Before I went vegan, I used to think that all vegans were strange hippie types. Vegans are certainly not the norm, but I do think the movement is growing. Just in the year and a half that Paul and I have lived in Laguna Niguel, two new vegan restaurants have opened in our area. When you consider that there was only one vegan restaurant near us when we moved in, this is huge! I hope you and Florence are enjoying your latest adventure! Celeste 🙂

  7. Sophie33 says:

    I also think that it is up to the vegan in question if he or she likes to preach it or not. I have a vegan friend that is vegan because of the ethnical reasons & for their health too. I listen to them but only eat vegan 5x:week because I can still enjoy my meat of fish. Sometimes, when people preach too much about anything, I don’t listen anymore but if they are passionate about vegan foods, religion or other stuff, I will listen & then practise it or not! 🙂

    • Hey Sophie! My husband and I used to be Monday – Friday vegans too. Over time we became full vegans, and like living this way now. Still, I respect your way of living. I personally get turned off when someone preaches to me, so that’s why I don’t preach. But like you say, it is up to the vegan in question to make this decision for him or herself. Hope you’re having a great week Sophie! Celeste 🙂

  8. Maryanne says:

    I don’t preach about anything except in my blog which is my platform. I just live my life and if anyone asks, I’ll share. If someone is so ignorant as to go on about protein and how we’re meant to be carnivores, I’ll just change the subject. Even nutritionists carry on about protein. But, hey, I’m 49, my blood work is excellent, as is my bone mass. If I was B-12 deficient or something, I’d be concerned, but I’m not, so I could say “shut up” to the naysayers 🙂

    • It’s hard to believe that a nutritionist would question a vegan diet. There is so much research showing it’s health bennies. I guess the nutrition schools have to catch up with the research! And if nutritionists don’t even grasp the health bennies of veganism, it’s no wonder that so many normal people are clueless. I certainly used to be clueless! Anyway, you are the perfect poster child for veganism. You’re healthy and look fabulous for your age. Celeste 🙂

      • Maryanne says:

        Yeah, nutritionists, medical doctors, they all need to catch up. But at least we have vegan wine and beer, vegan make-up, even vegan condoms! So, little by little, people are getting it. Thanks for the compliment. You look fabulous too! xo

    • Thanks girlfriend!! Celeste 🙂

  9. Hi Celeste, I think that anytime we preach people will immediately get their defences going (assuming your bashing their current lifestyle instead of genuinely trying to help) I feel they won’t listen, only focus on their brilliant argument to disprove everything you say. I prefer to keep quiet and try to lead by example 🙂 I also agree with many of your commenters that a blog is a great place to “preach” so to say, you can connect with people who actually are ready and interested to hear what you have to say.

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment Tina! I agree with you. It took me awhile to accept this and to learn not to preach, but I’m there now. I never convinced anyone to go vegan by preaching to them. Since I stopped preaching, however; I’ve inspired several people to adopt a plant-based diet. It’s funny how this works, when I tried hard I didn’t get results and now that I’m not trying I get results. There is a powerful life lesson in that. Celeste 🙂

  10. Erika says:

    Reblogged this on Hippie Vegan Chick and commented:
    What a great post, I just have to share it!

  11. Erika says:

    This was so well-stated, Celeste! I can get carried away sometimes when it comes to veganism because it’s something that I’m very passionate about. However, lately I’ve been allowing people to ask me questions, too… rather than me being “preachy”. So, I totally understand what you mean. You do a great job at educating and inspiring people! 🙂

    • Hey there Erika! Sometimes I still get carried away. Like you say, it’s hard not to when you feel so strongly about something. I really don’t think preaching does any good, however; so I’ve tried to tone it down. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment and for the reblog – I really appreciate it! I hope all is well with you and that you have a fabulous weekend! Celeste 🙂

  12. When I first went vegan I felt the exact same way. It was hard not to want to share what I “discovered” with every person on the street. I just wanted to walk up to everybody and be like–did you know that all this horrible stuff is happening? I felt if people just learned the truth, then they would change…just like I did. However, I learned quickly that everybody’s path is different.

    I find that just living my life in accordance with my ethics without stepping on other people toes and of course making delicious vegan dishes for non-vegans is a better way to “preach” veganism than actually preaching it. As someone mentioned above, preaching = defensiveness. Whereas living by example + yummy vegan food = curiosity and openness.

    Great post Celeste. I love your honesty and openness about the early stages of veganism. Most vegans have been there but perhaps don’t want to admit it.

    • Thank you so much for all of your support!! I love how you say living by example + yummy vegan food = curiosity and openness. I so resonate with that! I’ve found that I’ve converted more people since I started living this way than when I was preachy. I’ve actually considered starting a feed a non-vegan outreach program. I don’t know that I’m organized enough to start something like that, but I thought it would cool to have a day where lots of vegans cooked for non-vegan friends and neighbors and then came back and shared about this experience. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll get motivated enough to start it. Celeste 🙂

  13. Shannon says:

    Wow. another thought-provoking and FANTASTIC post, Celeste. Do you ever stop? 🙂

    I guess I’ve been there too, but it wasn’t for long. My age has probably has something to do with this. I’ve learned not to rule anything out when it comes to food choices; I lump diet in with religion and politics — it’s only discussed within friendly circles. I mean, what good is being an ethical vegetarian if I’m not approachable? In order to extend a reach outside of my bubble, people need to know that a) I’m vegan, b) I’m not a Nazi about it, and c) it is totally possible and even joyful to do, that I’ve really given up nothing. So I try not to preach as a general rule, but I do practice clever answers to expected questions.

    My favorite get together is BUNCO with PTA moms. Sixteen to twenty friends bring pot luck dishes of stuff I won’t eat. I do TRY everything because I am gracious guest (I just don’t go back past that first bite) and I’ll comment that I could make the same dish subbing this or that, and I always loudly declare how delicious her dish is (because anything with cheese or bacon IS delicious) because that’s just good manners. Then I go hover over that awesome veggie tray and dip nature’s nuggets into homemade hummus-and-pickled-and-curried eggplant dip…finally, something I can sink my teeth into (that would be what I brought!). It helps that I’m the fittest, funnest, oldest person in the room, and I look 15 years younger than I am. Oh. And I’m VEGAN.

    Walk the walk, is what I say. It speaks volumes!

    • You’re such a kick Shannon! I bet those PTA mom’s are really blown away by you. I have no doubt that you’ve made a lot of people consider going vegan. I love how gracious and non-judging you are. I’m getting there, but I bet if I was at a party with you I’d be watching and learning a lot from you. I can be on the shy side in a crowd, especially when talking about subjects that are not popular. Thanks for your thoughtful comment! Celeste 🙂

  14. Flo says:

    I love your honesty in this post. You are awesome!

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