In desperate need of understanding vegan friend - VeggieBoards

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#1 Old 12-21-2014, 10:35 AM
 
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Unhappy In desperate need of understanding vegan friend

Hi, my name is Kirsten, I`m 18 years old and come from Norway.
I realize this is a place for people who are vegans og vegetarians, but i figured what better place to get advice and information about veganism then here.
I have this friend who I have known since i was little, but she moved to Canada and lived there for 2 years and now that she has come back she has changed a lot. When she came back, she didn't eat meat, dairy products, gluten, or anything unhealthy for that matter, that dont even contain any of these things. I accept the choice to become a vegan og vegetarian, i even have friends in the US who are. Just to mention it, I haven't really talked about this with her because I`m afraid i`ll offend her or something. I just feel that she is doing it for the wrong reasons. When she visited Norway some time back she told me all about how girls in Canada where so thin and fit. I feel like this might have affected her a bit. She has never expressed any thoughts about the meat industry before, but we have been apart for 2 years and things change. I just don`t understand how being a vegan means not eating any products that contain a bit sugar or products that contain gluten, even if its organic products. I would really appreciate it if someone could help me out.
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#2 Old 12-21-2014, 10:46 AM
 
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Just to add something, I grew up with a mom who always bought organic fruit and vegetables. She always bought our food at local and organic stores, which is very hard to find in Norway and quite unusual. Something I can't just sit and watch, is skinny people trying to loose weight (yes my friend is skinny). I love to eat a lot of healthy and not so healthy food, and I have never worried about my weight before. Therefore I just hope this is no the reason for her becoming a vegan. Do any of you have experiences with people who become vegans/vegetarians to loose weight?
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#3 Old 12-21-2014, 10:51 AM
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People turn to plant based diets for many different reasons. Vegan by defintion means avoiding anything that exploits animals. That means no meat, or any foods that come from animals like dairy or eggs, or things that come from the by products of slaughter like gelatin. Clothing which comes from wool or silk are not used as the animals are often mistreated and/ or killed. For most it's a practical solution since these things are not needed, we have many better alternatives.

Sadly though, there are those who use the term vegan to cover eating disorders. I'm not suggesting that this is your friends reason, but since you say you fear she's doing it for the wrong reasons you might want to think about that. Eating vegan may help in maintaining a good weight, but it should be a healthy weight and from a good variety of foods, including good protein from beans, nuts and seeds.

Vegan does not mean gluten free. Unless you have good reason to avoid gluten, wheat is often used. The only vegan avoidance of sugar is avoiding the ones that are processed through bone char. I don't believe Canada even uses that process, it's mostly the U.S.

You should ask her about her reasons. Better yet, explore it for yourself! We have several members here, both vegan and vegetarian who are from Norway.
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#4 Old 12-21-2014, 10:53 AM
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Hi Kristenlunde, you came to the right place for some advice, and you are a great friend for wanting to take the time to understand her and being concerned about her.

First, off, being vegan is healthy when done right, just like any diet. I can't really relate it to Norway, but here in America our American Dietetic Association states that vegetarian and vegan diets that are appropriately planned are suitable for all ages and all times of life.

Vegans can eat gluten, if she's not eating gluten it's probably because she chooses not to for health reasons as it seems she's worried about her appearance. Vegans don't have to eat organic, though many try to. Vegans can also surely have sugar, but many watch out for bone char sugar. It seems like she is vegan but is taking it a more restrictive way of eating.
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#5 Old 12-21-2014, 10:57 AM
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Hey, just read your second post. I actually assumed Norway would be great for local and organic foods! I have this vision of the Netherlands being quite healthy, I really don't know very much about it though.

Yes, unfortunately the trend of going vegan to lose weight can be very disturbing. It's one thing to eat plant based in order to get all your nutrition without the concentration of calories that meat and dairy bring, but another to use it as an excuse to not eat enough calories. If you look at vegan diets for losing weight you find they include a LOT of food. That's because they're nutrient rich and calorically low. You can eat a pound of broccoli for about what a couple ounces of meat provides in protein and still have far fewer calories for example.
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#6 Old 12-21-2014, 11:02 AM
 
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First of all, thank you so much for answering!
This was very helpfull, and now I have more information so i feel like I can talk to her about it. I really admire those who are devoted to this. Thanks again!
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#7 Old 12-21-2014, 11:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by silva View Post
Hey, just read your second post. I actually assumed Norway would be great for local and organic foods! I have this vision of the Netherlands being quite healthy, I really don't know very much about it though.

Yes, unfortunately the trend of going vegan to lose weight can be very disturbing. It's one thing to eat plant based in order to get all your nutrition without the concentration of calories that meat and dairy bring, but another to use it as an excuse to not eat enough calories. If you look at vegan diets for losing weight you find they include a LOT of food. That's because they're nutrient rich and calorically low. You can eat a pound of broccoli for about what a couple ounces of meat provides in protein and still have far fewer calories for example.
A lot of people seem to think that too! The fact is that people are quite healthy in Norway, and we dont struggle with the same obesity problems as the US does. However, few think that organic food is better and its also a lot more expensive. I lived in Santa Cruz California for a year, were the selection of organic stores were much better!
I watched a lot of youtube videos, and the amount of food the vegans ate was impressing. I think this is something I`ll have to talk to her more about. Thank you so much for answering
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#8 Old 12-21-2014, 11:10 AM
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It would be hard to guess your friend's reasons without knowing her. There are lots of good reasons to become vegan, most of them involving reducing animal harm and suffering. However, there is no ethical reason to avoid gluten and "unhealthy" vegan foods. Some people may become vegan as part of a fad diet -- fad diets often incorporate very strict restrictions as a way of reducing calories. An eating disorder is unfortunately a possibility as well.

Just to use myself as an example, I did not lose weight when I became vegan. Some people do -- usually it is temporary because they have trouble finding enough to eat. A vegan diet can certainly be healthy and still incorporate calorie dense foods -- fried foods, vegan ice cream or cookies, chocolate, etc.

I think it would be a good idea to bring up this issue with your friend in a nonjudgmental way. You seem like a very caring person, and I bet you can find a way to express your concern for your friend without alienating her.
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#9 Old 12-21-2014, 11:17 AM
 
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Originally Posted by runnerveggie View Post
It would be hard to guess your friend's reasons without knowing her. There are lots of good reasons to become vegan, most of them involving reducing animal harm and suffering. However, there is no ethical reason to avoid gluten and "unhealthy" vegan foods. Some people may become vegan as part of a fad diet -- fad diets often incorporate very strict restrictions as a way of reducing calories. An eating disorder is unfortunately a possibility as well.

Just to use myself as an example, I did not lose weight when I became vegan. Some people do -- usually it is temporary because they have trouble finding enough to eat. A vegan diet can certainly be healthy and still incorporate calorie dense foods -- fried foods, vegan ice cream or cookies, chocolate, etc.

I think it would be a good idea to bring up this issue with your friend in a nonjudgmental way. You seem like a very caring person, and I bet you can find a way to express your concern for your friend without alienating her.
Some of the reason why I am concerned is because of the things you mentioned( gluten and unhealthy" vegan foods). And I am quite worried about how to talk to her without offending her... Any advice on how to precede in a non-threatening way?
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#10 Old 12-21-2014, 11:35 AM
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Is your friend that easily offended? You could try asking why gluten is unhealthy and what is gluten (but make it seem like you're just curious), and see what she answers and take it from there. Most people who avoid gluten don't even know what gluten is. Also, it seems like she's doing it for health reasons, but try to dig deeper into why she's doing it.

P.S - I live in Canada. There is a good amount of overweight girls here, but maybe she happens to live in an area where most girl are fit.
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#11 Old 12-21-2014, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by kirstenlunde View Post
Some of the reason why I am concerned is because of the things you mentioned( gluten and unhealthy" vegan foods). And I am quite worried about how to talk to her without offending her... Any advice on how to precede in a non-threatening way?
I just want to say I think you're being an amazing friend! Your concern for her is so touching.


Having conversations that aren't threatening to another person can be difficult. I usually just try and make it a discussion about a general topic, rather than the specific person I'm talking to (even though that's exactly what I'm doing).

The best example I can think of, is when I'm trying to tell my family how hurtful it is when someone shares a picture of meat on Facebook with something stupid like "Pigs- They turn vegetables into bacon". So, I'll relay someone sharing that picture to someone in my family and say "You know, I'm really glad my family are more supportive than that. The sight of dead animals on my plate has really, in recent years, made me very, very upset". It's my way of telling them where I draw my lines, without saying "Hey, you'd better not do the thing that I don't want you to do!"


As for your friend, I'd start by just asking her 'why' she's vegan. Maybe look on these boards, or the Internet in general, to see our stories. Each one of us has a reason for taking animals (and their products) off our plates. Then, you can say "I was reading some stories about how and why people have gone vegan, I was wondering whether you could tell me why you decided to go vegan?"

This might give you more insight into your friend's decision.

I'm not saying she won't be offended by the question, but that's actually not your issue. If you're taking every precaution to find out her reasons, without being confrontational, then you're doing your bit. If she chooses to be offended after that, then that's her problem.
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#12 Old 12-21-2014, 04:08 PM
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I don't really have very specific advice since you probably know your friend best, but I would talk to her sometime when it is just the two of you. Let her know that you are curious about her change in diet and wondering what prompted the change. From there, I would just be honest with your questions, concerns and feelings. Chances are if she is really set on losing more weight, you may not be able to change her mind, but at least you can lend a supportive ear and perhaps counteract some of the negative messages she might be receiving about food or her body.

For your reference, here are a couple of websites about vegan nutrition: veganhealth.org and theveganrd.com -- both are authored by vegan registered dietitians (in the US registered dietitians are the health professionals who are experts in nutrition).
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#13 Old 12-21-2014, 05:31 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiger Lilly View Post
I just want to say I think you're being an amazing friend! Your concern for her is so touching.


Having conversations that aren't threatening to another person can be difficult. I usually just try and make it a discussion about a general topic, rather than the specific person I'm talking to (even though that's exactly what I'm doing).

The best example I can think of, is when I'm trying to tell my family how hurtful it is when someone shares a picture of meat on Facebook with something stupid like "Pigs- They turn vegetables into bacon". So, I'll relay someone sharing that picture to someone in my family and say "You know, I'm really glad my family are more supportive than that. The sight of dead animals on my plate has really, in recent years, made me very, very upset". It's my way of telling them where I draw my lines, without saying "Hey, you'd better not do the thing that I don't want you to do!"


As for your friend, I'd start by just asking her 'why' she's vegan. Maybe look on these boards, or the Internet in general, to see our stories. Each one of us has a reason for taking animals (and their products) off our plates. Then, you can say "I was reading some stories about how and why people have gone vegan, I was wondering whether you could tell me why you decided to go vegan?"

This might give you more insight into your friend's decision.

I'm not saying she won't be offended by the question, but that's actually not your issue. If you're taking every precaution to find out her reasons, without being confrontational, then you're doing your bit. If she chooses to be offended after that, then that's her problem.
Thank you for answering, this was very helpfull! She was very into photographing before and used a LOT of time on it. This was something I was very supporting of, and I think thats why I dont want to come to strong on because I know I could have been more supporting about it. I`ll ask her what made her go vegan, and hope she knows that I only want to understand more so I can try to be supporting. I won't ask her to change her, because its her decision. I just want to be sure that she is doing this for the right reasons.
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