Taking the steps towards a veg diet is rewarding and absolutely something to feel stoked about! You may rapidly feel benefits like an increase in energy and reduction of mental fog or feel empowered by choices that allow you to reduce your carbon footprint and extend your circle of compassion to all beings, making your walk on this planet all the more positive and mindful.
Unfortunately, sometimes when trekking this path, you’ll find yourself face-to-face with naysayers and the disapproval of others. This can feel like an even grander buzzkill when it comes from those we hope for the greatest support from… our parents, siblings, lovers or friends.
Since starting Raw Alignment, I have received countless messages seeking guidance and advice from teenagers who parents would not allow them to go vegan. This article is dedicated to them, though know that these suggestions and tips can better prepare you to talk to a resistant boyfriend, judgmental sister or misinformed friend on your choice to go vegan.
Expand Your Mind
Chances are, when you disclose to your loved ones your readiness and willingness to ditch animal products, you’re likely to receive an abundance of concerns and push back.
“But you’ll get sick!” “Where will you get your protein from?” “Don’t you know vegans are weak and iron-deficient?” “Animals were made for us to eat…” “Won’t you get bored of salads?”
Be patient and understanding. Just like you, your parents, family, partners or friends were all raised with a nutritional education based on the inclusion of meat, dairy and eggs. Culturally, we have been bred to accept this as the only means to live and thrive, so to deny this program can be perceived as drastic to anyone who hasn’t re-educated themselves.
To be better prepared for challenging conversation like this, it’s wise to consider doing your homework first.
There are countless books, documentaries and resource websites dedicated to vegan living. Explore the ethical considerations for making this choice, such as how your eating habits impact other sentient life and the environment. Spruce up your plant-based nutrition education so that you can address whatever concern for your health and well-being your loved ones may have. It may even support your case to mention famous athletes or well-known celebrities who are veg to give your loved ones a sense of ease, assurance and confidence knowing someone they respect or admire is successfully leading this lifestyle.
Coming armed and prepared with vegan food pyramids, recipes, statistics and pictures of yummy vegan meals can support your loved ones in standing behind you in making the switch. Assure them of just how delicious and budget-friendly a move like this can be. Be prepared to soothe whatever anxieties or fears they may have regarding a veg lifestyle with tangible examples, facts and proof that there’s nothing to be concerned of.
Feeling overwhelmed by the plethora of resources out there? Visit my vegan resource page to begin your vegan education journey!
Become Clear on Your Motivation
What is it that motivates you to go vegan? While people will always have endless questions and debate points on the ethics and nutritional value of a vegan diet, you are by no means expected to hold all the answers.
What will hold true time and again, however, is your own personal inspiration for taking the plunge.
There are so many reasons to consider going vegan, whether as an active protest of the plight and abuse of farmed animals, the detrimental impact of the animal agribusiness industry on our environment, human and worker right violations in slaughter and pack houses, immense contribution to environmental racism, the effect of animal products on our mental and physical health… the list can go on!
Your motivation may change with experience and time. While many vegans were moved by the ethical considerations, when learning of the environmental impact of meat, dairy and eggs or experiencing first hand the benefits this lifestyle had on their health, may find themselves expanding their reasons for doing so.
Regardless of what drives you to this lifestyle, sharing your motives with your loved ones will shed light on how this change allows you to actualize and live your greater potential.
Who can argue with you striving to be as compassionate, gentle and healthy as you can be?
Your Body, Your Choice
So you’ve presented your parents with countless leaflets on the ethical persuasions, displayed delicious pictures of simple veg meals and even coached them on how to meet your nutritional needs solely on plants and they still don’t want to budge?
Time for the real, true, tough love.
It’s not your parents decision if you go vegan or not.
No one, and I mean no one, can determine what you should be putting into your body other than yourself.
If you are lacking the support of your loved ones to assist you in making this change it may be a tad more of a learning curve than if you did. But it does not mean its not possible.
So your mother, who normally does the food shopping and prepares you meals claims she won’t lift a finger in your pursuit towards veg living?
No problem! Chances are, your family already stocks the fridge with lots of veg friendly products. You know all the foods our parents worked tirelessly to get us to eat while we were a kid? It’s likely they’re still lining the pantry and fridge.
While your family claims to rely heavily on meat, dairy and eggs for their nutritional needs, its likely they still eat fruit, vegetables, grains, cereals, legumes and beans as well.
Get creative with what veg options are available to you. If you haven’t empowered yourself to cook for yourself yet, this maybe the opportunity to dive into this essential life skill. And if you happen to earn income or have funds available to you, invest a fraction of it into alternative products your loved ones may not be open to purchasing for you, such as non-dairy milks or vegan specialty items (though these certainly are not necessary!)
I have great confidence that your loved ones, after witnessing your efforts and convictions will come to accept, if not just adapt, to your lifestyle change. And who knows… your choices may even rub off on them ;)
Learn to Be Ok with Being the Outsider
While it certainly will make life all the more easeful having your loved ones backing of your choice, the most important message I hope you take away from reading this is that ultimately, you don’t need it!
We live in a carnist society… a world that has deemed it normal, natural and necessary to commodify animals for consumption.
This means, no matter where your life path takes you, you are likely to encounter some judgments, resistance and misinformation when others learn of your dietary choices.
For this reason, having the support of like-minded individuals with similar lifestyle choices can really help us feel less isolated or misunderstood in this world. And with the growing trend of plant-based lifestyles, you won’t be the only odd-ball around ;)
Struggling to meet other veg-heads in real life? Veg support and community can be found with ease and grace online too.
Don’t fret! Know that each encounter you have with a naysayer is an opportunity for you to be a positive, living example. If you follow the previous steps of this article, and with the experience that comes with time and countless similar conversations, you’ll only become more impeccable at sharing your knowledge, your motivations and the positive impact this lifestyle choice has made in your life.
Your lived experience is knowledge of immeasurable worth. It has the potential to positively influence every person you meet.