Moving to a veg*an lifestyle can be a daunting prospect, especially if it goes against beliefs you were raised with – like eating meat is natural and normal.
As a long-standing omnivorous species, many people resist the idea of ditching meat and meat products. In Australia, there are ads on television about eating lamb. Not a particular type of lamb, just lamb. And nobody bats an eyelid. That’s how ingrained meat consumption is in our society.
So when you become veg*an, you may find other people don’t like your decision. Including your parents.
Hopefully, they’ll support your decision but before you have the conversation, here are some steps you can take to help your folks understand your point of view.
Explain your ‘why’
You want your parents to respect and support your choice. So be prepared to explain it. So before you speak with your parents, take a moment to consider why going meat-free is important to you.
Everyone’s reason to become veg*an is different, but it’s pretty safe to assume animal protection is a big part of your decision. Researching the facts about the living conditions and treatment of livestock can be helpful when explaining your stance in a way that others might be able to connect with.
The key thing here is that you’re explaining, not justifying. This isn’t a conversation where you ask for permission, even if your parents aren’t keen on the idea. What you need to convey is that you have given it thought and have the maturity eat a diet that reflects your beliefs in a healthy way. Which leads us to….
Know the facts – about your food
Unhealthy. Extreme. A weight loss diet in disguise. There are many misconceptions about the veg*an diet. Thankfully these are just misconceptions, but you need to be prepared to address them.
The consumption of meat and meat products is considered so normal that people assume it’s also necessary for a healthy diet. Veg*anism, by association, is often regarded as a diet that leaves people malnourished.
So how do you combat this? Armed with information. When your parents ask you that fabled question, ‘how will you get enough iron?’ you can keenly inform them there’s a wide range of veg*an options, for example quinoa, oatmeal, lentils, nuts and seeds, beans and even tomato sauce. Yes, you can safely continue to smother your hot chips. The key is to understand how your body absorbs iron and less about the quantity you consume.
By understanding the changes you need to make to your diet to make sure you get all necessary nutrients, you can reassure your parents you’ll be eating healthy. And if that doesn’t work, tell them to google veg*an athletes!
It’s a two-way street
You're on the cusp of becoming an adult, and it’s only reasonable that during the next few years you’ll take greater control of your life and the direction you intend to take it.
This is your decision, nobody can take that away from you, and nobody should be dictating what you eat. However, respect for personal beliefs is a two-way street, which leads to the second point: don't force your views on your family. Demanding your mum, dad, brother, sister and the family dog become veg*an with you isn’t likely to work.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to educate those around you about the plight of animals - you absolutely should! But if you want people to respect your beliefs, you need to do the same in return, even if it makes you uncomfortable.
Hopefully, your parents will be on board with your veg*an lifestyle. Maybe they’re not. Either way, it’s likely there will be a period of adjustment for your family. Who cooks the meals in your family? How often are they meat-free? Expecting your parents to cook two separate meals isn't always a realistic option. An excellent way to maneuver around this is to seize the opportunity to create your own meals. There’s great recipe inspiration on Instagram! You might even find you’ll inspire your family to eat more meat-free meals when you show them how tasty it can be. Learning to cook tasty veg*an meals is a great skill to have, because being veg*an is a lifestyle, not a fad, and you’ve got many meals ahead of you!
Telling your parents can seem intimidating, but the good news is you have a lot of control over the conversation. The effort you put into researching the plight of livestock animals and great veg*an alternatives will demonstrate the strength of your convictions. From there, sharing your decision with your family should be easy. Be confident in your choice, resolute in your justifications and live a happy, healthy meat-free life!