Updated: Mar 15
Many vegans are told at some point to not be vegan, whether it’s your family, friends or even your doctor, their message is the same, being vegan is a bad idea. A lot of people that don’t know the truth of how veganism affects the environment or how it affects your body and believe that going vegan is a waste of time. They believe that you’ll get sick, that the food is terrible and you’ll be miserable. Also most people don’t realise how badly animals are treated before they are slaughtered so that people can eat them.
The truth about eggs involves all boy chicks being killed, milk means baby cows taken away from their mothers, pork means pigs being kept in cages so small that they can’t even turn around. It’s horrendous and it is fact, but the farmers and the government don’t tell people so they believe the pictures of happy animals. For the environment eating meat means chopping down rain forests and polluting rivers and seas, then there’s the methane from all of the farty cows. When we educate ourselves and tell people about these things we can help them to understand and, hopefully, encourage them to make positive changes too. But, until then, how do you deal with being told not to be vegan?
When your friends tell you not to be vegan it’s because they like eating meat, drinking milk, eating cheese ad yogurt and they want you to join in too. Quite often kids that aren’t vegan think that being vegan is weird, actually adults think this as well, and they don’t want to be friends with the weird kid. They will also worry about inviting you to their house, they won’t know what you can eat and then they’ll have to talk to their parents about your choices. If you find that your friends aren’t getting it explain a few facts to them. Ask them how they would feel if they were a baby cow and tell them that you’re not okay with animals being treated that way, maybe they’ll understand. If they don’t get it let them know that you feel strongly about it and won’t be changing your mind because you think that it’s wrong, but, importantly, that you won’t judge them for not doing the same thing that you do.
When it comes to your family telling you not to be vegan there are three things to remember:
1) They love you and they want the best for you. If they believe that eating a vegan diet will harm you they will do everything that they can to stop you.
2) They fed you food that they thought was the best for you and now that you’ve decided to be vegan you’re basically telling them that they were wrong. No one likes to be told that they’re wrong, especially by someone that is younger than them. If your family are having these kind of thoughts then they may be hostile about your choices but just take your time and explain why you’ve decided to go vegan and give them time to adjust.
3) They’re worried about what everyone is going to eat. Having one little vegan around the dinner table can be tricky, but there are loads of solutions and it doesn’t have to be expensive.
Your family could be the hardest ones to win over, they will insist that they are right, that they are feeding you what is best, they may assume that this is a fad and you’ll get bored and change your mind. As with your friends a big part of making people understand is education, take your parents to the library and get a book about veganism for them. Show them websites like nutrition facts and pubmed where they can read about the science of being vegan and then, most important of all, listen to them. You may not agree with what they say, but listen to their concerns and remember that they want the best for you.
Talking to your doctor about being vegan as a kid is hard because you don’t have much control. You need to have your parents onside so that when the doctor has questions about how you’re getting everything that you need your parents can confidently tell them. Also, let your parents do the talking. If the doctor starts to suggest that you need to drink milk to get calcium or that you need to eat meat for protein let them know that you are careful to eat a wide variety of foods. Also, if you've read our post Why Doctors Don’t Tell People To Go Vegan, you’ll know why talking to doctors about being vegan can be an uphill battle, but don’t give up. Show them how healthy and strong you are and tell them that your parents read the science and research to make sure that they’re getting it right. Don’t tell your doctor to read the research they won’t like that, they’ll think that you’re being cheeky.
Ok, that was longer than I thought it would be. As a grown up vegans come up against a lot of opposition to their veganism, but as a kid it’s that much harder because you’re not in control. You don’t have a job, you don’t have your own money and you live in your parents’ house so it’s really important to be armed with the facts, be ready to answer any question and deal with any argument, even if your answer is “I’ll have to find out about that and get back to you.” But stick to your guns, stay strong and remember that you’re doing a good thing.