VWPA Advice #025: What Do I Say to My Friend’s Meat-Eating Apology?

“How do I respond to my friend’s apology that she eats meat?” I got a message on Facebook from a friend I haven’t talked to in a long time. She said she tries to be vegetarian but she eats meat, and she said she’s sorry. The weirdest part was she said she ‘thanks the animals when she eats them’ – how the hell do I respond to this? I want to have a dialogue without being too pushy, but I’m also confused as to why she even reached out. – Sara


Ah yes. The carnist guilt reflex, I know it well. It appears in all forms, one of which is the out-of-nowhere apology. Be kind and neutral. Ask them why they are having a hard time giving up meat. Just listen to what they say. Acknowledge things that are difficult (learning how to cook vegan recipes, figuring out snacks, adjusting to change, family issues, etc.). And then let them know that you are there to talk or give advice if they want it. Let them know that every time they choose to not eat animal products, they are making a difference. It’s simple, but it works. You’ll let them know that you won’t judge or put pressure on them, and that you are someone they can talk to. You plant the seed that every time they cut out meat, it counts, which can encourage people to reduce their consumption or at least be more conscious of what is on their plate, and that is a good first step.


Ahh the “I’m sorry…” This can be such a tricky situation for a number of reasons. The first (and usually the most infuriating) is that they aren’t actually sorry. I mean, typically an apology happens when someone has recognized that what they did was wrong, wants to make amends and will try to not repeat the action that caused harm. BUT this casual “I’m sorry”, isn’t really doing any of this. It’s more of a polite but meaningless gesture. I think this is why we get frustrated, because we can tell they don’t accept that what they are doing is wrong and they have no intention of changing their future behavior. I could go on and on deconstructing these “I’m sorrys” but I’ll skip ahead 😉 I think how to handle an insincere apology like this depends on a lot of factors, like how often do you and this person talk? Is it worth it to break out the brutal honestly or is it better to just move on? I think the advice Nichole gave is right on and in most situations her advice is the preferable way to go… But I also think that occasionally it’s ok to address the apology in a more direct way. For example, you could say something like “please don’t apologize if you don’t mean it” or even ask “why are you apologizing”? These are more likely to cause friction but in the right circumstances, it could cause the person to really reevaluate what they are saying to you. I also think laughingly responding like “Don’t apologize to me…” or “It’s not me that needs the apology” can be a smidge gentler than what I said above while still possibly forcing them to confront their ideas/justifications. Or you could use these tactics if the person is just being a real jackass and you don’t feel like playing nice (I mean sometimes you just need to let it out right?) LOL either way, try to take the carnist guilt as a good (though irritating) sign, it means they might be one step closer to realizing the truth!

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