This is one of the most common problems that I hear about, and I want to take a little time here to address the issue as best I can.
In regards to “Going Vegan,” there are lots of reasons that you may be concerned about the influences of others, especially when it comes to your family. I most commonly hear this problem from teenagers, because they are still under the oversight of their parental figures. Which typically means that they are also not the person in the household who is responsible for the decision making when it comes to the dinner table. Most likely they are not the ones paying for the food either. If this sound like you, then please keep reading, cause this is a very important discussion.
Whether you are currently an omnivore, or already an active vegetarian; your decision to go fully vegan is of an importance that is hard for others to reconcile with. Whether you are doing it strictly for health reasons, or you have a growing concern for the deeply flawed industrial farming system. Don’t forget this. When you get discouraged with things, it is important to remember why this decision is important to you. Do more research, make smart decisions, and “Live With Less”TM.
One thing that is important to remember in this situation is that you may never change your families stance on your decision to go vegan. This may be a bit of a tough pill to swallow. We all want to have the acceptance of those closest to us, but the harsh reality is that it may never truly come. I will say however; the longer you stick to your beliefs, the more people will understand how important it is to you, and the less they will tease, prod, or bother you about it.
What I’d like to do in this blog is offer some practical advice to teens that are struggling to get their parents to understand their decision. The following solutions may not be perfect for everyone, but I hope that some of you will find some advice worth using here. If not, then hopefully it will at least jog some of your own ideas.
Talk to them! (Difficulty: Easy-Difficult)
I’m not putting this one on here to be silly. Some of you may be severely underestimating the power of a conversation with your family. Here are some practical pointers on how to approach this:
-This CAN NOT be done in a spur of the moment “Fly-by” conversation. You need to get them to take it seriously, because it shows them the you take this seriously. Start by saying something like “Mom, dad… I want to sit down with you guys tonight and talk, I have something I really need to talk to you about.”
-Don’t tell them that it’s about “Going Vegan” at this point. Chances are good that your family already knows what you want to talk about, and reiterating it may just make them annoyed, and they may decline speaking about it all-together.
-Notice also, that you’ve set a time with them. Hold them to it. When the time you have set up to speak to them comes around, tell them that you haven’t forgotten, and you would like to have that talk now. This will show them that you are responsible, your on top of things, you’re a good kid, and you can handle this decision.
-Be Prepared. This is the most important part. Your family is going to have a lot of tough questions for you, so do you research, and be prepared to answer them.
Pay for, and prepare a vegan meal for your family. (Difficulty: Moderate-Hard)
Nothing could make a stronger statement to your family than this. You are essentially letting them know that you have a sound understanding of what it means for you to go vegan. You’re demonstrating that you have an understanding of how to prepare vegan dishes, and what it costs to do so. You’re also demonstrating a compassion to them by taking the time to prepare them a nice meal. hopefully when they are thinking more about your decision to go vegan, they will remember how generous and supportive you were to them.
Stand your Ground. (Difficulty: Hard)
Be careful with this one. While I do recommend doing what is best for you, you also need to remember that this is a very delicate situation. you will need to use your best judgement in handling this situation.
Ultimately it truly is your decision. While your parents are the ones who pay for your food, clothing, and shelter… it has to be understood that you are an individual as well. Most likely your parents are going to tell you something like “If you don’t like the food we buy you, don’t eat it.” Which is what you will have to do. That means taking on even more responsibility. Maybe your allowance, job money, Christmas money, and other income, will have to go to buying food that you feel good about eating. That will mean making some sacrifices in other areas of spending. If you don’t have any money, then this decision may mean finding a way to earn some money. Imagine how your parents will feel about your decision, when they see you out mowing lawns to pay for tofu! There is no decent parent in this world that wouldn’t respect, and admire that sort of dedication. It may be the very thing that changes their mind.
I hope that some of this advice is helpful. If you are somebody reading this blog who has already conquered this problem. Share with us what you did to alleviate the struggle.
(Here is a REALLY good video from a teenage kid to other teenage kids, on the subject of “Going Vegan“)
Thanks for reading,
Denman Scofield (Owner)
The Hobo Bakery