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Strange Behavior from a Vegetarian Friend


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I was a vegetarian for over 11 years, but since the spring have been eating paleo. I have been having trouble with a vegetarian friend's behavior recently and could use some advice.

This friend and I have known each other at least a year now, maybe even two. We met at our CrossFit gym and had an initial connection because we were both vegetarians at the time and love animals.

We have been friends on Facebook for quite some time, until a few months ago.

Before ever switching to paleo, I had been posting paleo articles on my personal Facebook page and on my Facebook health and wellness page. For over a year, before switching, I did research on the paleo diet. Our box did its first paleo challenge this time last year and before that, my family had been experimenting with paleo (with great results!)

Some time in the fall, this friend replied to a paleo-related post on my personal Facebook page asking if I had started eating paleo too. I replied that after researching it for over a year, I had switched to paleo, but that I only eat animals who have been humanely raised. Shortly after this I noticed that we were no longer friends on Facebook.

I sent her a friend request (as I know sometimes people accidentally unfriend others, I've done it myself!). For at least two months, she did not respond to my request. Finally, about a month ago, I resent the request and she accepted it.

Yesterday, I noticed that she was no longer a fan of my health and wellness Facebook page, so I invited her to like it. She replied with:

"Thanks for the invite Sara, but I must decline. It represents a dietary lifestyle that goes against my moral ethics and value for ALL life."

My health and wellness page does not only cover paleo. I encourage postings of various healthy diets. (I respond to her as such.) I also often post about animal welfare and non-diet related topics.

I rarely see this friend at the gym anymore so we've not had good lines for communication lately.

I appreciate and value all life (the main reason I became a vegetarian). This is also one of my favorite aspects of paleo and Whole9. It teaches you to live your life and respect the lives of others.

Before switching to paleo and discovering the Whole9, I struggled with depression, suicidal thoughts, and eating and skin disorders. I was on antidepressants, steroid creams for my skin, and was simply not happy. Would it have been better for me to remain a vegetarian and encourage the use of products that surely were tested on animals and developed through their abuse? Or is it better that I now am healthy and happy because I consume healthy animals who lived happy, full (I don't eat baby animals) lives?

I think my friend feels betrayed and I can understand, but I don't believe she treats others this way. What should I do (if anything at all)?

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Ahhh human relationships...slippery things....sounds to me like she is a hypocrite, values ALL life but doesn't value you based on your choices that are rooted in health. I consider this a toxic person and I wouldn't want them in my life. As for what to do, it's up to you but I would just put happy, healthy positive people in my life not people whose love and attention is conditional on what type of food you are eating.

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It really is a difficult one. As an ex-vegan, now Paleo, I can totally see where you're both coming from. One of my closest friends is still a deeply committed vegan. She won't eat any animal products, won't wear leather, silk or wool or use products tested on animals and campaigns tirelessly for animal welfare. I can totally respect this, I (secretly) feel she has the moral high ground. Unfortunately health-wise, being a vegan just didn't agree with me. I now eat paleo but, like you, care passionately about the welfare of the animals I eat.

How we maintain our friendship is to respect each other's views but basically not talk much about food. If she's visiting here and I make her anything, I make sure it's vegan. I figure it's easier for me to go a few hours without animal protein than expect her to give up her lifelong principles. Personally, I think she'd be healthier if she ate Paleo too, but it's her life, her choice.

Your friend may have felt betrayed as she may have felt you were soul-mates with similar views and ethics. Not many vegans understand how it's possible to respect all life while eating it, though really she should respect your choices for your life. She may just take time to come round to this. At least, you're back to being friends on facebook. I can understand her 'unliking' your health and wellness page if it's not strictly vegetarian. Don't take that as a criticism, my friend would be exactly the same. All you can do, is keep the lines of comunication open and show her you totally respect her choices and hope she comes to respect yours. good luck.

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If you really want to go down that road, my best tip would be to read a lot on the topic of the impact of paleo on sustanability. There's a Facebook page called "Go paleo, save the world", something like that. It's based on a book that explains why eating local, grass-fed meat is actually BETTER for the planet than eating a vegetarian diet (supposed your friend eats wheat, soy, and other food that are grown as a monoculture).

If you're not super close to that person, I would personaly just ignore her. As much as you might want to, you can't convince everyone that eating ethically-raised, grass-fed red meat with saturated fat is healthy. Most people are not ready for that kind of shift, and everything that's implied. You could also look at Whole9's post "Conversation with a vegetarian"

Ideally, I would advise both of you to "agree to disagree". There is more to a person than the way they eat, and if you two got along pretty well before, I don't see why that would change. If, on the other hand, you got along just because of your views on food, then it might be time to rethink how you feel about your friend/what your friendship was based upon.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I agree that she sounds toxic, there's no need for you to chase someone that contributes only negativity (at least at this point) to your life. She can't respect your beliefs, and if this is how she lives her life, I imagine her circle of friends will grow smaller and smaller. You don't need to apologize to anyone for the food choices you've made,as long as you know you've done what's right for you.

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