It’s almost Valentine’s Day. It’s February. It’s cold. You’re ice skating with your special someone. You come inside and peel off your scarf and parka to reveal your hot vegan bod and one-pack abs. You turn and notice an old friend – one who hasn’t seen you in a while – who approaches and says, “You look great! What’s your secret?” Do you demur and mumble something humble? Or do you wander into the conversational weeds, spouting T. Colin Campbell this and Caldwell Esselstyn that? Ever wish you could wow your friend with a poised, evocative, memorable pitch for your plant-healthy, vegan lifestyle? Let’s talk about how you can.
World champion of public speaking, Craig Valentine, suggests that in a speech or in a conversation, you need to “tease them before you tell them”. Draw in your friend with a tease, asking “What would you guess? What I’m doing might surprise you.” Your friend might respond, “Are you doing Atkins? Paleo? South Beach?” She’s engaged and really wants to know the answer. That’s the power of a tease.
Now, reel her in with your pitch. Make it short and memorable – so she can recall it and so she can repeat it to other people. A very visual acronym, coupled with a short, memorable phrase, is really effective. Here’s my spiel:
“I’m doing the WRAPS program, as in it wraps me up and gives me a big hug. Would you like to know what WRAPS stands for?” (Notice another little tease to keep the interest level high).
At this point, your friend is leaning in and says, “YES!” Next, you fill in the details. Mine are:
- W is for Whole food – it looks like it did in nature or in the field.
- R is for Real food – nothing fake, nothing highly–processed, nothing out of a box.
- A is for Assortment – a variety of foods so I never get tired of any one thing.
- P is for Plant-based – lots of veggies, lots of fruit, but no animal products.
- S is for Starch-centered – foods that fill you up and keep you going all day like rice, corn, beans, and potatoes,
The WRAPS acronym is short and memorable, but it needs one more component –examples. You know that your friend will ask, “But what do you eat, specifically?” You need to include some concrete meal ideas that your friend can visualize and remember. To the above I add:
“For example, today I had oatmeal with blueberries for breakfast, a hummus-and-veggie wrap for lunch, and three-bean chili for dinner”.
With any luck, your conversation does not end there. Despite this impeccable, iron–clad logic, I’ve yet to encounter anyone who slaps her forehead and says “Duh! Of course!! I’m going home to start doing exactly that right now.” (It is a great fantasy, though, isn’t it?)
You’re bound to get some resistance, rebuttal, or even bargaining. This can take many forms, and it pays to take mental notes on the challenges you do get so you can be even better prepared for the next time. As an example, keeping with her previous line of inquiry, your friend might ask, “But why not Atkins [or Paleo or South Beach]?” The same principles apply here as before – be brief, clear, memorable, and as visual as possible. I typically organize my rebuttal volley like this:
“For me, it’s a chance to H–E–A–L, as in health, environment, animals, and life.
- Health-wise, I feel great. I’ve lost weight. I look better and younger than ever. And this diet works long-term.
- Environmentally, the diet is low-impact in terms of the water and land required to raise the food. Plus, I can grow a lot of it in my own garden.
- Animals don’t die for my benefit, and that makes me feel good karma-wise.
- Life is what binds everything together. I feel like I’m living and encouraging the life all around me.”
In a last ditch effort, your friend might appeal to a higher authority and ask, “What does your doctor say?” This is your chance to strut your stuff and point your health numbers. You probably have a similar story, but here’s mine:
“At my last check-up, my doc looked at my numbers – cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose – and literally said, ‘With numbers like those, you’ll live forever.'”
Now, that’s a great elevator pitch. I can’t wait to hear yours.