Explaining veganism to grandparents - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 03-21-2015, 07:11 AM
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Explaining veganism to grandparents

How did you go about doing this??
My grandparents are very traditional with their eating habits (meat, potatoes + 2 veg for dinner) and they just wouldn't understand my reasons for going vegan.
Any gentle ways of explaining it?
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#2 Old 03-21-2015, 07:30 AM
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Rebecca, could you get them to watch Forks Over Knives on Netflix or buy them a copy from amazon (around $13)? It explains the tremendous health benefits for eating this way. And two of the main people in it are doctors in their 80's that were brought up on dairy farms. Maybe your grandparents could relate to them. It's only about 1.5 hours long, and maybe worth a try.

Here's the trailer:

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#3 Old 03-21-2015, 11:27 AM
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I'd stick with telling them how you feel and keep it simple. When you start saying their choices are wrong or asking people to read a bunch of stuff, it leads to defensiveness and arguments....but it is harder to argue with how another person feels. When asked why I don't eat animals, my short answer is "I love animals and it bothers my conscience that they have to be harmed so I can eat them. So I learned how to eat a healthy diet from just plants." I make it all about what personally bothers my conscience...it is hard to argue with that other than telling me conscience is stupid or I need to have less of one (which grandparents generally won't encourage!). When dairy/eggs comes up (usually someone telling me that cows don't die when they are milked or that an egg isn't isn't a baby chicken, as if I didn't know!) I just say something like "yeah, but the chickens don't live very happy lives... so at least they don't have to lay any for me!" (In a light tone) I never have arguments from people taking this approach. Sometimes people seem genuinely curious and want to know more about why I think the hens aren't happy...or how I can get protein that way...and I try to give them as factual an answer as possible and as detailed as they seem to want, assuming they are ignorant as I used to be and open to learning more. Some people in my life never seemed to want to know more, others keep asking more. Recently my dad asked me about my protein sources and I thought he was checking up on me (I'm 42 but he still does that ha ha) and then I realized midway though my answer that he was asking for himself. He joked that I had "messed up his diet" because he had never thought about the fact that he was killing animals. He looked a little sad and pitiful, this was a new insight that was causing him to eat less meat and get concerned about what to replace it with! So I tried to stay low key, answer the protein question and let him change at his own pace... but it made me happy that his mind was opening to the possibility of being vegetarian.

With grandparents, they might care about your health, so telling them that you have been researching how to do this the healthy way is important. Maybe share things you have learned...not PETA stuff that they may regard with suspicion...but basic info on nutrition from the American Dietetics Association. For example..."you know, I was reading about how most people get their iron and protein from meat, but it actually is in a lot of other stuff too, like beans. So I think it would be really healthy if we made a big pot of beans with our dinner and I could eat those instead of the meat." I chose that because it is a really traditional and cheap kind of food that they probably know how to cook already. If you start with tofu, they might think that is strange. Ease them in slowly.
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#4 Old 03-21-2015, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Rebecca623 View Post
How did you go about doing this??
My grandparents are very traditional with their eating habits (meat, potatoes + 2 veg for dinner) and they just wouldn't understand my reasons for going vegan.
Any gentle ways of explaining it?
You can have the potatoes and 2 veg and skip the meat, saying "I don't eat meat anymore."
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#5 Old 03-22-2015, 04:21 AM
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This is such a great answer Docbanana, thank you BILLIONS!! It's great to hear your own experiences!
I've been veggie for a few years and they understand this, but the idea of vegan is totally new to them. I don't think they have even heard if the word before!!
When I'm at theirs, they usually provide for my veggie needs by cooking something heavy on the dairy, more often than not its macaroni cheese (I don't even like cheese, but I eat it or they'd be upset with me). So what kind of foods can I eat when I'm at their house, apart from baked beans (that was a great suggestion!!) that are not "weird and vegan" like tofu?
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#6 Old 03-22-2015, 04:59 AM
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Glad I was helpful! I too struggle to help my family figure out how to cook. I'd love to hear ideas from others about vegan foods that are everyday things that a very basic and traditional cook would know how to prepare. I visit them about once per week and I'm lucky that my parents are supportive and are happy to accommodate me (usually by just eating a veg meal themselves, not making something different for me) but they make one of the same two meals every time I show up and are insecure about the lack of variety. For the record, the two meals are beans/rice and spaghetti marinara, usually with a veggie or salad. If I am there and we aren't having a cooked meal but just sandwiches or something quick, I eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich since they always have ingredients for that on hand.
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#7 Old 03-22-2015, 07:20 AM
just add raisins
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I second Docbanana on the peanut butter suggestion, and hummus is pretty mainstream these days and a good replacement for cheese on a baked potato, in sandwiches etc. Frozen peas are also a solid standby that everyone probably has, they're not too bad for protein, plus vitamins, and not "weird" (although I guess people might think they're weird as a major part of a meal. They're really easy to jazz up with different flavourings though!).
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#8 Old 03-23-2015, 07:57 AM
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How about taking a couple of packets of frozen veg burgers over to their house to keep in their freezer? That way, you can prepare one and eat it with the veggies/potatoes/whatever that they would prepare for one of their regular meals, and they won't feel as though you're not eating a "real" meal by omitting the meat?

Also, stews, soups, chili are all easy vegan meals, as are many casseroles. You could offer to cook at their house and freeze leftovers for future meals at their house, or cook at home and bring a pot along to eat and then freeze leftovers.
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#9 Old 03-23-2015, 12:05 PM
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Thank you for all of the wonderful ideas
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#10 Old 08-04-2015, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by TerriNC View Post
I don't remember this. Cool stuff.
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#11 Old 08-10-2015, 02:27 PM
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Stay positive through the struggle.

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#12 Old 08-10-2015, 05:20 PM
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I told everyone all at the same time (great aunt, great uncle, great grandparents). My great grandmother complained for a few weeks, mostly worried about my health then eventually backed off. My great grandfather never commented. My great uncle accommodated me in meals. My aunt however... She already had her opinions. She refuses to even think of the diet as enjoyable because she had tofu once in the 1970s, and according to her, all I eat is tofu when she's never seen me eat it.. And when I was vegetarian, she called me vegan, since I didn't eat chicken and fish.

The whole reason for my whole long, drawn out explanation of my experience is that sometimes you need some patience and use a calmer approach, explain some things and smooth it over. I agree with what kiwibird said about your conscious, since it holds back arguments. Always try and answer questions, curiosity is never a bad thing when it comes to learning about vegetarianism/veganism.
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