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#1 Old 03-23-2016, 09:01 PM
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Unsupportive or concerned family members?



How do you handle discussions with friends or family who are not supportive of your Veg*n lifestyle?
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#2 Old 03-24-2016, 09:38 PM
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Hit 'em with a butternut squash to the face.

J/k, I just tell them I don't want to talk about it during mealtime, which is usually when people become instant experts in nutrition and direly concerned with my health for some reason. As I eat my veggie/bean stir fry over purple rice.

Otherwise, I'm armed with facts about the animals, environment, health, and spiritual aspects of veg*nism. I toss a few things out depending on my audience. Might be water usage for an environmentalist, treatment of pigs for a dog lover, etc.

Usually I just cook vegan for everyone, though. That way they can see we eat real food, much of it delish, not just chewing on kale all day long.

Years ago I bought Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. They can't argue with their mouth full of yum.
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#3 Old 03-25-2016, 02:35 AM
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When I first made the transition to vegan (from omnivore), I researched how to meet my nutritional needs and also the ethical, environmental, social, spiritual, and health aspects of veganism. I read many books, not just the popular ones, and visited blogs and websites and scholarly articles. I wanted a well rounded education lol and I wanted to be confident and understand why this was so important to me. I waited until I had been vegan about a month before telling anyone, because I wanted to be sure I could do it and was going to be ok. My partner lived with me at the time and I was already making dinners for us every night, and he didn't even notice that all our dinners were meat/dairy/egg free lol. He ate and still mostly eats his own breakfast and lunch. I am naturally a good cook and embraced the challenge of plant based cooking and food prep and substitutions etc. It is so second nature now that I am surprised when I run into a recipe that calls for eggs for pancakes for example. They are SO not needed lol.

I'm not very good at "in your face" arguing or debates, so I keep a lot of it to sharing my personal experience and how it works for me. My partner was not happy about it for a while, and it was a struggle for us. I refused to buy animal products or cook his meat and so on, with a rare few exceptions with eggs for him when he was deathly ill and could not care for himself (and doesn't like nuts/seeds much, nor fruits and most vegetables...I learned that a good sauce makes a difference. ). I showed him some short articles, magazines, studies etc about veganism, and I showed him a book about vegan nutrition so he could see that I would be able to meet my needs and be healthy. I also showed him that some UFC fighters are vegan and very successful, and that was the turning point for him lol. He LOVES UFC fighting. He is now mostly vegetarian at home and even goes entire weeks being completely vegan (until we visit his parents...sighs).

I also really thought about it from a religious angle because I have a lot of religious family and friends. I read some Christian vegan books and joined the Christian Vegetarian Association for a while so I could get support in sharing that angle to others (I am not Christian myself). It backfired for my partner's family, who think that these "Christian vegetarians" are a cult lol. So I gave up altogether trying to convince them of the ethical/moral reasons for veganism and focused on health/environment. Well, they are lifelong dairy farmers and beyond convincing, so I gave up altogether but have shared many of my vegan dishes with them since I bring all my own food when I travel there and they have been very surprised at how great vegan food is. Imagine seeing their faces light up at trying homemade hummus for the first time. Two old folks who lived their entire lives in a sheltered area of the Midwest enjoying hummus lol.

The main concern from my family and friends was that this was just another diet for me and way to control my body, because at that time I was battling an eating disorder and already mildly underweight when I went vegan. I did indeed lose about six lbs right off the bat albeit unintentionally. I worked hard to put that weight back on and it was the perfect time to experiment with all the plant based dishes out there. I made vegan pancakes, and pot pies, and a variety of desserts, and casseroles and homemade soups and breads. Food wins every time, and over time my family became much more accepting of my veganism when they saw that I was not depriving myself. In fact my mom and sister followed suit and went vegan for a while. Now they are both vegetarian for the most part. My Dad stopped drinking/consuming dairy (like me, he has a terrible intolerance to dairy/cheese etc).

So long story short, living by example in a positive and healthy manner was what helped most. I did eventually relapse fully into my eating disorder in late 2012, early 2013 and became very sick for a time, but had a health scare and wake up call and pushed hard to get back to a place of recovery, putting on 22 lbs purely as a vegan to get to a healthier place than I had been for many years. I didn't have to give up veganism to do it. It was important for me to hold to my ethical beliefs and practices, so I adjusted my diet and became more open and relaxed to trying different things like plant based "meat" and vegan commercial "cheese" and of course eating more and being ok with my body. I never promoted specific diets within the realm of veganism because that was never the focus and not as important to me. I used to be deathly afraid of fats, but I incorporate them in small amounts into my daily diet and find they give me the stamina, energy, and mental focus I need.

I always try to keep messages about animal rights and so on positive, not accusing or attacking others. I bring up concerns and remain firm in my beliefs and practices but don't attach the "murder" label to meat eaters or assume that I am so much healthier than they are. I tailor my message to each individual, much like Ledboots. I also don't waste any energy on people who clearly are not interested and can not be civil and mature about it. I'd rather educate or happily share about veganism with people who show an interest or at least are concerned with issues such as the environment, animal testing, animals used for entertainment etc. Most people are interested in the food aspects so I might share mostly about that. I also do not have to put up with obnoxiousness from others either, and I tend to not associate with those people. I have dropped friends from Facebook for this.

I've also found that strangers in real time are less likely to be obnoxious and hateful than people on line. I have leafleted and tabled for Vegan Outreach at local colleges and city streets, and people are more receptive and polite than we give them credit for. On rare occasion someone in passing made an obnoxious comment but I learned to block them out and to keep sharing with others. I also had a plan in place in case someone started to harass or threaten me, such as calling 911 or tabling near the administration office at a local college (with their permission). People do not have to agree with everything, but no one has to take abuse either. Assertiveness is very important to learn to diffuse situations and stand up for oneself without being aggressive or resorting to the same obnoxiousness.

In the end, only kindness matters. - Jewel



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#4 Old 03-27-2016, 02:52 PM
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I had problems with my parents. Here is what I could tell you: don't give up, but don't try to force your beliefs on them either.
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#5 Old 03-27-2016, 04:18 PM
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I'd say that you should be vegan and when they ask what you are doing I'd tell them.

It takes two to speak the truth: one to speak, and another to hear.
—Henry David Thoreau
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#6 Old 04-21-2016, 05:17 AM
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First off, it's a lot healthier to be vegan that it is a meat eater. It's not like it was 20 years ago! Today we have so many choices in the way of food, and food that contains more nutrients and protein than meat. Meat is a killer, and not just with the fat content but the crap they feed these poor creatures. To me, you're not only eating a dead animal, you're eating a sentient being that had feelings. I would tell them "Look, I don't support what you eat either, and that's a concern to me, but you eat it anyway." I would tell them that they should be more concerned with their own eating habits.
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#7 Old 04-21-2016, 06:40 AM
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My mom eventually 'accepted' I was a vegetarian and is coming to accept I'm now a vegan. I think she had some concerns, genuine ones but has learned you can be healthy and not consume animals. My dad and other family, on the other hand, will never accept it. They have to know by this point one does not drop dead from 'meat deficiency' after a year or 2, so they've resorted to childish insults instead. I've been dealing with it for 17 years. The first few years were the worst.

Outside my family and a few people who know, I generally try not to bring up the fact I'm vegan unless I have to. I dislike arguing, especially over a meal. No one really seems to notice or care if I order a vegetable dish so long as I don't bring up my reasons behind my choice. A lot of times I call ahead to a restaurant to ask if they have a vegan option or to work something out beforehand to not create problems when we actually dine in, or suggest somewhere I know has a few vegan options along with meat so everyone can have something to eat. If we eat at someones house, I will call before and be very polite when I explain and offer to bring a dish etc...
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#8 Old 04-21-2016, 11:42 AM
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My parents are not saying anything bad about it so far and are completely fine with me being vegan, but it's fasting period right now (because next week it's Easter), so I hope they don't think I'm actually fasting. However, I noticed a bit concerned, but generally positive attitude from them.

Some of my friends, however, feel the need to say bad stuff about it and mock me. I try to ignore or not reply, but sometimes it gets to me. But they'll have to get used to it, since my veganism doesn't affect them in any way. Even when we go out to eat (which is in the breaks between classes), there are a few cheap places that we go to, I know that I have vegan options there, it's fine with me.

It depends on the way they are bringing the topic up (because I'm never the one that brings it up), whether it's in a genuinely serious way, to which I respond with actual, serious arguments and have a decent conversation, or in a mocking way, to which I try not to talk about it.
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#9 Old 05-01-2016, 11:20 AM
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I tell them I've been a Vegetarian for half a decade and a vegan going on 3 years and that if I was going to die from not eating flesh I would have by now. Then if they continue I point out the fact that I'm in better physical shape than them and haven't missed a day of work from being sick in years.
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#10 Old 05-26-2016, 11:46 AM
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No, no, you guys are going about it incorrectly. Human beings are creatures of emotion. Most people, by nature, hate change -- any kind of change -- that includes your decision to take the moral/ethical high ground. When concerned family members and/or close friends protest, they don't want to hear your logic or the cool data that your elementary school science teacher Mrs. Judith said about plants.

Cause lets face it, they don't care about that stuff -- they are worried about YOU! All your scientific proof of vegan/vegetarian supremacy won't change that. The reason your family/friends act that way is because most people would rather live a life in their comfort zone, doing the exact same stuff every single day, blissfully ignorant of the world around them. Yet, nobody became great by living a life of mediocrity -- life begins outside your comfort zone -- and just by the fact that you are here, you understand that! You great leader you. But most people will not.

If your family/close friends are genuinely concerned, comfort them emotionally. Tell them that this decision doesn't change who you are (even though your decision is making you the coolest person ever in my eyes, lady (or dude) ). If you prefer, turn the tables by telling them that you are worried about their wellbeing and health, and express your desire to be there for them. There are literally a hundred ways you can take this, and writing it all down would take forever.

In the end, what matters most is you. Take care of yourself and your wants and needs. Good luck.
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#11 Old 05-28-2016, 08:15 AM
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nr32 does have a point that few people with this problem look at.

Food is culture. Food is family. When a person hates you, he stops eating with you. So there is a depth to the problem that goes beyond discussions of macronutrients.
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#12 Old 08-26-2016, 06:14 PM
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@nr32 wrote: Cause lets face it, they don't care about that stuff -- they are worried about YOU! All your scientific proof of vegan/vegetarian supremacy won't change that. The reason your family/friends act that way is because most people would rather live a life in their comfort zone, doing the exact same stuff every single day, blissfully ignorant of the world around them. Yet, nobody became great by living a life of mediocrity -- life begins outside your comfort zone -- and just by the fact that you are here, you understand that! You great leader you. But most people will not.
That is the very reason why I never married. I find that way too many people make comfort zones their "god".

They often comment how they would die if they couldn't eat meats and poultry. I quip back with a smile, I die if I eat meats and poultry, then I pull out my trump card - the Epi-pen and say Poultry, birds, meats cause me to need this. Then ignorance as to what constitutes a bird pops up. "Does that mean...oh, no, I am sure you can eat Turkey, right?" Um, no, Turkey is a bird, as is hen, game hen, chicken, duck, geese, and so on. That is when their jaw drops and they quietly walk away as if I am contagious.

Witnessing? I will merely say that only for Type II diabetics has the strict healthy Vegan diet been proven to reverse Type II diabetes. However, I do understand that where you live, people would rather die from the diabetes, not see their grandchildren or see their own children marry and make adult milestones then actually go Vegan. I get it. Vegans have a much harder time getting cancer too! Its not a cure, but its the people on the farmers diet like you are that have a much higher chance of dying from cancer and Type II diabetes, or being diagnosed with Alzheimer's or Dementia. I know. My grandfather on my dad's side, and my mother both have it and both refused to eat a healthy Vegan diet. This is when I will tell Dr. Neal Barnards story about Alzheimers. His family had the higher than national USA average for Alzheimers. Dr. Barnard went Vegan, and was not diagnosed with it even though many of his family members were. His family members ate the farmer's diet with lots of bacon fat. They are then dutifully shocked, but then dismiss everything I said and go on eating their meats, as if I was lying and as if giving it up would kill them faster. I then go my way.


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#13 Old 09-11-2016, 03:30 PM
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I've just become vegetarian and am still experiencing a big problem with my parents being quite unsupportive. I'm 18 and quite able to make my own decisions, this one being the latest. What I find helps the best to appease their worries is telling them that it's a life choice I've made and that I don't judge the for eating meat or force them to change one bit for me. None of my relatives have ever adopted a vegetarian or vegan diet so this is completely new for them. My father is terribly worried that I'm going to get sick from a lack nutrient but I am educating him on the different options available for protein and amino acid other than meat. I'm doing my best to do my research and educate my non-supportive family. I'm sure that with time, they'll come to understand. I've just got to hang in there!
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#14 Old 10-20-2016, 11:52 AM
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Still haven't quite figured out how to deal with it. I'm 13 and my mother was very supportive in the beginning, but now that schools started and the stomach virus has gone around she's scared I'm dying of some sort of "protein deficiency." I'll ask her "If I wasn't vegan and I got the stomach flu, would you really have thought anything of it?" She always finds a way to change the subject. She tells me that I am trying to force my beliefs onto the family (trust me I am not!) when she is the one trying to force her beliefs on me! An event came up recently where she said "If you start eating like the rest of us then maybe you'll be able to participate!" She said that I can go vegan when I am 18 and it's no longer her problem. I'm glad I found this site so that I may get the chance to see how others are dealing with meat eater families!
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#15 Old 10-20-2016, 03:11 PM
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When you are not buying your own food, it is obviously a bit more complex than when you are. I have seen some reports that teens have had success putting their parents' minds at ease about their diets using Cronometer. (It's a free website you can use to track nutrition in detail.)
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#16 Old 10-20-2016, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by tntobe View Post
Still haven't quite figured out how to deal with it. I'm 13 and my mother was very supportive in the beginning, but now that schools started and the stomach virus has gone around she's scared I'm dying of some sort of "protein deficiency." I'll ask her "If I wasn't vegan and I got the stomach flu, would you really have thought anything of it?" She always finds a way to change the subject. She tells me that I am trying to force my beliefs onto the family (trust me I am not!) when she is the one trying to force her beliefs on me! An event came up recently where she said "If you start eating like the rest of us then maybe you'll be able to participate!" She said that I can go vegan when I am 18 and it's no longer her problem. I'm glad I found this site so that I may get the chance to see how others are dealing with meat eater families!
Tell her to read the nutrition labels on cans of beans, packages of lentils, peas, pasta (just to mention some of them), and see that they have protein.

You can tell most people who bring up the protein issue have never read a nutrition label in their lives. They probably don't even know how much protein meat has; only that it has "a lot of protein" because they hear it through hearsay.
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#17 Old 10-21-2016, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by tntobe View Post
Still haven't quite figured out how to deal with it. I'm 13 and my mother was very supportive in the beginning, but now that schools started and the stomach virus has gone around she's scared I'm dying of some sort of "protein deficiency." I'll ask her "If I wasn't vegan and I got the stomach flu, would you really have thought anything of it?" She always finds a way to change the subject. She tells me that I am trying to force my beliefs onto the family (trust me I am not!) when she is the one trying to force her beliefs on me! An event came up recently where she said "If you start eating like the rest of us then maybe you'll be able to participate!" She said that I can go vegan when I am 18 and it's no longer her problem. I'm glad I found this site so that I may get the chance to see how others are dealing with meat eater families!
Dealing with parents can be so frustrating! I'm sorry you're having this issue.

Maybe this article on vegan protein can help, it has a lot of great examples and an easy to understand explanation: http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/protein.php

"If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others... why wouldn't we?" - Edgars Mission
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#18 Old 10-21-2016, 03:07 PM
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I had problems with my parents. Here is what I could tell you: don't give up, but don't try to force your beliefs on them either.
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#19 Old 10-23-2016, 08:34 PM
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Thank you so much! I definitely hope it will help! All of the support I'm getting on this website is truly phenomenal!
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