Exchange program + host family - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 04-06-2009, 10:08 AM
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#2 Old 04-06-2009, 01:31 PM
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there have to be some vegetarians, or even just people who are willing to be open-minded about cooking for a vegetarian, in france. i think you need to work with your highschool to help them to support you to do this, and find these people.



being able to cook for yourself, even just a little, would really help. so would being able to help your hosts understand what you can and can't eat, and what alternatives are available to you (not just being ale to identify packaged foods, but being able to articulate yourself a little, and knowing where you could get specialist things and support- like the french vegetarian society).



having info about your dietary needs available upfront, so it doesn't seem daunting to a potential house-parent, would be really great. i think a lot of people can rise to a challenge, if they know exactly what the challenge entails, and can get their head around it. especially if you're enthusiastic and pro-active and helpful.



i don't think lacto-ovo needs to be a huge deal. there are plenty of egg and dairy based meals someone could cook for you- absolutely tonnes- assorted vegetable and rice and pulse things too. all you need is to fnd someone who isn't phased by the idea of your not putting ham on, or chicken stock in everything.



i think you've already decided that its going to be a disaster, without knowing that. how do you know there isn't a french vegetarian family out there who really wants to have a student with them for a year, but has had the same worries as you, but about them wanting to be fed meat. you'd be ideal for them!
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#3 Old 04-06-2009, 01:46 PM
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I don't think anyone on this board is going to say that you should start eating meat. I agree with HCJ - give the situation a chance. You may very well find a vegetarian family. You never know, you may find a family that likes you enough to give up meat for a year. Don't automatically assume the worst.
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#4 Old 04-06-2009, 01:51 PM
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i think most of the problem is that the school and the agency just doesn't want the hassle of doing a bit of extra leg work.
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#5 Old 04-06-2009, 03:24 PM
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The thing is, there are few vegetarians in France anyway. The chances of one vegetarian family in France wanting to host an exchange student are even less. The chances of that vegetarian family in France finding me through the particular group I'm studying abroad through are even less... You see where I'm getting with this? Why would any meat-eating family want to take on the burden of having to make me special meals while I live with them for 1 year?



I know some companies outright reject vegetarian applicants for France because it is just nearly impossible to find a willing host family.



If I started eating meat for the program, I would definitely try to stay as vegetarian as possible. I would even ask my host family if it was okay with them that I stayed vegetarian. But if meat is absolutely unavoidable in certain situations, I would just have to try eating meat.



I'm not just speculating on this potential predicament either. The company itself told me that I have a low chance of getting to go because of my vegetarianism.
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#6 Old 04-06-2009, 03:31 PM
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I am also 15 and have been a vegetarian since birth. I think if you are a serious enough vegetarian you should not even consider eating meat for a year, I know that I wouldn't, and you shouldn't have to, the family that you are staying with should cater for your needs and when they come to you, you will have to cater for theirs. Since it is a whole year, you may find it hard finding things that you like to eat over there so i suggest taking some of your favourite non-perishable food especially if you don't think you will find it over there. It's probably going to be hard but if this is something that you really want to do then you shouldn't have to give it up just because you are vegetarian. Just think it through and I think you will make the right decision.

Good Luck

I hope that i have helped.

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#7 Old 04-06-2009, 03:56 PM
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I had exchange students stay in my home in high school, and they would deliberately assign my family a vegetarian student if there was one because I was vegetarian. We would have NEVER EVER dreamed of making a student eat something they were opposed to, or heck, they just didn't like! They were a guest in our home and we tried to make them as happy and comfortable as possible. We had vegetarian exchange students from France, Scotland, and Wales (there were usually more than one in the groups who visited too, and the school always tried to pair up families who had a vegetarian kid with a vegetarian exchange student). I can't imagine that anyone who would be willing to take an exchange student would be offended because they were veg.

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#8 Old 04-06-2009, 04:14 PM
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I wouldn't assume that this family is going to force meat down your throat. This is supposed to be a learning experience for everyone involved and you can use this opportunity to teach them about a vegetarian diet. Explain to your school that you feel confident in your choice and bring a multivitamin when you go if you feel nervous.
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#9 Old 04-06-2009, 04:24 PM
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Thanks everyone for the reassurance, but remember again it's the COMPANY that is organizing the exchange and not my high school. The company has the right to refuse vegetarian students if they can't find a host family that's willing to cook special meals for me. I could make excuses such as being able to cook my own meals, buy me own groceries, etc. but beyond all that I'm just a "vegetarian exchange student" to the company and they have to deal with me accordingly.



They are okay with me being a vegetarian, but that still can make it difficult for them to place me in a host family. There have been instances of host families not keeping their vegetarian exchange student because that student was too difficult when it came to eating, and even vegetarian exchange students going anorexic. So for this, it would make things easier if I were a meat-eater. I know that I shouldn't eat meat, but I might have to make this sacrifice if things don't end up working out. It's only something I will use as a last resort.
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#10 Old 04-06-2009, 04:32 PM
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It sounds like you're not even taking in the suggestions that people have offered and that you are set on eating meat for a year.



I find it extremely hard to believe that a company is thinking of rejecting you because you are a vegetarian, it really is not impossible in France (Hell I managed to easily eat completely vegan in France) and I'm sure that many families will be happy to cater for you. Even if what you're saying is the case, I would rather not go and take up a different opportunity at another time.



You're talking about the sacrafices you'll be making, but it's not really YOU making them is it? It's the animals that are going to die so you won't cause your host family any 'problems'. I'm sure if the company have a real issue with this you can try to come to some kind of arrangement where you make your own meals/ do your own shopping.
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#11 Old 04-06-2009, 04:48 PM
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I don't understand why the host family would have to make "special meals". With access to a kitchen you should be able to feed yourself. You may not be eating gourmet cuisine but you will survive just fine. I spent a week in Paris without access to a kitchen and I was able to eat vegetarian quite easily. My only problem: people kept trying to convince me that fish was vegetarian.
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#12 Old 04-06-2009, 04:50 PM
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Could your family periodically send you vegetarian care packages while your there?

‎"One meal, soon forgotten, in exchange for a whole life." Author Unknown
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#13 Old 04-06-2009, 05:29 PM
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It sounds like you're not even taking in the suggestions that people have offered and that you are set on eating meat for a year.



Sorry, I don't mean to. I am not set on eating meat for a year. I am set on being flexible with what I'm eating for 1 whole year. I am not going to purposely eat as much meat as possible but if worse comes to worst, I have to be flexible at the least. This is really important: I can't assume that my host family will let me use their kitchen to cook, and I can't assume that my host family will be okay with me not eating what they make. This host family could be anyone and feel any way about me being vegetarian. They're the ones hosting me so when I'm in their house, I should be flexible and adaptable. So they very well could be the types that would force meat down my throat, or with luck they could be chill, nice people that would understand that I'm vegetarian and allow me to do what I want.

I have to be ready to face any type of situation. If the host family I go to is okay with me being vegetarian, I will be. But if the host family is not okay, I will have to be flexible.



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I find it extremely hard to believe that a company is thinking of rejecting you because you are a vegetarian, it really is not impossible in France (Hell I managed to easily eat completely vegan in France) and I'm sure that many families will be happy to cater for you.

Maybe it's hard to believe, but it is precisely what the company has told me. I know it's not impossible in France, it's possible anywhere in the world to be vegetarian. But that's only when you are in charge of your own food. It's different when you are a minor, in high school, and living with a host family with host parents that are allowed to make the rules for you and basically control everything you do. They are your temporary parents, and parents can be very strict. I think some of you are unfamiliar with high school exchange programs and I don't blame you for that if you've never done one. But they are very strict and emphasize that you are a member of your host family and should act as they do.



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I'm sure if the company have a real issue with this you can try to come to some kind of arrangement where you make your own meals/ do your own shopping.

I've talked to them about this, but this is not something I can do as a high school exchange student. If my host family allows me to do so, that's dandy. But if they don't, I'm under whatever rules they impose on me.



So that's about it. I am perfectly capable of cooking for myself. But two problems arise: my host family might not like it if I do, and that's not a valid argument to the company I am going with I can make as a high school exchange student. Hope that clears up any misunderstandings. And anything came across as rude or haughty, I genuinely don't mean to! I was just trying my best to explain my situation better.



Thanks,

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#14 Old 04-06-2009, 05:30 PM
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Thanks everyone for the reassurance, but remember again it's the COMPANY that is organizing the exchange and not my high school. The company has the right to refuse vegetarian students if they can't find a host family that's willing to cook special meals for me.



No, they don't, not if you were born and raised vegetarian because of your religion. This is considered religious discrimination and is very illegal. Take it up with the Department of Anti-Discrimination (or whatever it is called in your country). The company may not listen to a 15 year old but they sure as hell will listen to a government department threatening them with exorbitant fines and prosecution.

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#15 Old 04-06-2009, 05:37 PM
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I really hope you don't start eating meat to make it easier for them to place you. It's not fair for the animals who will have to die to feed you. Like Kiz said, you're vegetarian for religious reasons. They can't exclude you for that.
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#16 Old 04-06-2009, 05:42 PM
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No, they don't, not if you were born and raised vegetarian because of your religion. This is considered religious discrimination and is very illegal. Take it up with the Department of Anti-Discrimination (or whatever it is called in your country). The company may not listen to a 15 year old but they sure as hell will listen to a government department threatening them with exorbitant fines and prosecution.



Okay I think I phrased that wrong then. The company can't "reject" me, but if they can't find a host family that wants to host me, then I can't be placed anywhere and therefore can't go.
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#17 Old 04-06-2009, 05:51 PM
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Okay I think I phrased that wrong then. The company can't "reject" me, but if they can't find a host family that wants to host me, then I can't be placed anywhere and therefore can't go.



then.... maybe you need to find a more considerate company, or wait a whole 2 years and go when you're not a minor any more. if you go as a university student (which you can do, and lots of people do) its very likely that you'll have the self-confidence, self reliance and freedom to feed yourself exactly what you want.



as an aside, i know you're looking for advice and support to get back into eating meat, but its against the rules here for people to make any pro-meat statements, so you're incredibly unlikely to get it. what we can offer though, is support and suggestions by the bucketload.



i spent a week without catering facilities in paris, at 17, as a vegan. i did ok. you can do ok too. its just about deciding that you're gonna find a way to do ok, finding it, and doing it.
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#18 Old 04-06-2009, 06:00 PM
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I haven't read the responses here, but was is your parents opinion on all this? They sound like they have raised you vegetarian, and if it is for religious reasons, I'm pretty sure they would prefer you to stay that way. Are they able to talk to the company, or any possible host family? They are easy ways of remaining veg, even if it means buying yourself some meat substitutes and eating them with any vege side dishes they may be preparing.



My in-laws have hosted many people in their house, and would have no problems feeding veg*ns though they themselves are omni. Myself and my sister in-law are vegan, and my partner is vegetarian and we are always catered for. As someone raising a child veg I would have no problems interceding on their behalf.
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#19 Old 04-06-2009, 06:02 PM
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as an aside, i know you're looking for advice and support to get back into eating meat, but its against the rules here for people to make any pro-meat statements, so you're incredibly unlikely to get it. what we can offer though, is support and suggestions by the bucketload.



Lol, I wish I had known that earlier.



I would feel extremely guilty and sick for eating meat again, and I know that would make me a(n) [insert negative adjective(s) here] person. But I guess I'm unfortunately selfish enough to think about doing it for 1 year.



I just want to let everyone know that I will try my hardest to get to stay vegetarian. I will do anything it takes.
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#20 Old 04-06-2009, 06:04 PM
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I haven't read the responses here, but was is your parents opinion on all this? They sound like they have raised you vegetarian, and if it is for religious reasons, I'm pretty sure they would prefer you to stay that way.



They actually think I'm old enough to make my own decision about this. I've actually become Atheist and they aren't that religious themselves. Even though I'm Atheist, I've continued staying vegetarian.



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My in-laws have hosted many people in their house, and would have no problems feeding veg*ns though they themselves are omni. Myself and my sister in-law are vegan, and my partner is vegetarian and we are always catered for. As someone raising a child veg I would have no problems interceding on their behalf.



I can understand that, but was it for 1 whole year?

I also don't think France is particularly understanding of vegetarianism whereas a lot of Americans have a good of what vegetarianism is.
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#21 Old 04-06-2009, 06:06 PM
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Definitely consider a different company!
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#22 Old 04-06-2009, 06:07 PM
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Definitely consider a different company!



I have the same chances with any company.
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#23 Old 04-06-2009, 06:25 PM
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Okay I think I phrased that wrong then. The company can't "reject" me, but if they can't find a host family that wants to host me, then I can't be placed anywhere and therefore can't go.



You seem very determined to shoot holes in any suggestion anyone gives you. Did you actually talk to your anti-discrimination board and they said that was acceptable? I'd be surprised - for something to be religious discrimination it does not have to be overt.

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#24 Old 04-06-2009, 06:26 PM
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Okay I think I phrased that wrong then. The company can't "reject" me, but if they can't find a host family that wants to host me, then I can't be placed anywhere and therefore can't go.



You seem very determined to shoot holes in any suggestion anyone gives you. Did you actually talk to your anti-discrimination board and they said that was acceptable? I'd be surprised - for something to be religious discrimination it does not have to be overt. If you were as determined to stay vegetarian as you were to dismiss any help you get to stay vegetarian I'm sure you would have far fewer problems. I'm starting to get the impression you really want to eat meat for a year and are just looking for excuses to do it.

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#25 Old 04-06-2009, 06:30 PM
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I have the same chances with any company.



hows that then?



what if one company happens to specialise in placing vegetarian students- think you'd have more luck with that one, or just the same chance?
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#26 Old 04-06-2009, 06:57 PM
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You seem very determined to shoot holes in any suggestion anyone gives you. Did you actually talk to your anti-discrimination board and they said that was acceptable? I'd be surprised - for something to be religious discrimination it does not have to be overt. If you were as determined to stay vegetarian as you were to dismiss any help you get to stay vegetarian I'm sure you would have far fewer problems. I'm starting to get the impression you really want to eat meat for a year and are just looking for excuses to do it.



Nope, I haven't talked to my anti-discrimination board but I personally don't think that is religious discrimination. I'm just wary of making a big deal out of nothing, especially when I don't find my particular situation to be religious discrimination. What is the company to do if they can't find me a family? Where are they supposed to get a family from?



I definitely don't want to really eat meat for 1 year. I've never eaten meat before and when I look at meat, it seems absolutely vile and disgusting. I'd never ever want to eat meat and I'm doing my best to stay vegetarian and still get to be an exchange student so I'm definitely not looking for excuses. It probably seems that way because I'm bad at giving clear explanations and every time someone posts a suggestion, I realize that I didn't explain clearly and therefore the person didn't understand clearly and I have to tell them why it wouldn't work that way. Sorry.
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#27 Old 04-06-2009, 06:58 PM
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hows that then?



what if one company happens to specialise in placing vegetarian students- think you'd have more luck with that one, or just the same chance?



Hmm.. if there any that specialize in placing vegetarian students, definitely let me know. I haven't come across any but that would certainly be amazing.
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#28 Old 04-06-2009, 07:04 PM
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Errr... you know you just confirmed my suspicions that you are set on dismissing things without trying them. I'm not talking out my arse you know. I've been vegetarian for over 2 decades. I left home at 16, already a vegetarian, and I coped. It can be done. It can't be done by asking for help and then dismissing it before you try it. I'm really not sure why you are asking for help if you don't want it.



"I'm just wary of making a big deal out of nothing". I find that phrase very telling and perhaps that is the root of our miscommunication. To you, vegetarianism is not a "big deal". To me, and others trying to help you here, it is. I'd honestly like to help you but the whole tone of you posts is frustrating. You seem so determined to find reasons why you should not be vegetarian for a while. I apologise if I seem to be being harsh on a newbie to these boards, but the refusal to accept or listen to advice after asking for it is frustrating.

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#29 Old 04-06-2009, 07:20 PM
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maybe these guys would be able to offer some advice?: http://www.vegetarisme.fr/
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#30 Old 04-06-2009, 07:57 PM
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Please stop using the word anorexic like that. You don't "go" anorexic because you don't have food available. You "go" anorexic because of a disease.
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