Updated: Mar 15
Deciding to go vegan is a big decision, it changes your life, but it also changes the lives of those around you. This is especially true of your family when they don’t make the change to be vegan with you.
The reaction that you get from friends and family could be quite negative, you could be accused of following the current fashion, of being difficult. Your friends may make jokes about your veganism, you may even be called selfish.
It is sad, but these reactions are quite common, however, with time, people will come round to what you’re doing. They may not agree with you, you may never get them to understand that we don’t need to eat animals, that dairy is bad for us, that synthetic fibres make warmer clothes than feathers, but they will understand that you are doing what you believe to be the right thing.
So, how do you deal with a negative to your vegan declaration? What do you say when your friends laugh at your hummus and pitta bread? How do you calm your dad when he puts cheese on your pasta, forgetting that you can’t eat it, but demands that you finish your food? Here are some tips:
Do your research. You need to know what it is that you need to eat to get all of your nutrients, you have to be able to tell people which foods have protein, what plants contain iron. Make sure you get your B12 supplement. By knowing what you’re talking about you can disarm most arguments against veganism because there really aren’t many arguments that make sense, but even those can be dealt with.
Be a living example of good health. When you go vegan, if you’re eating a whole food plant based diet for sure, you will feel healthier and you will look great. Your skin will clear, allergies and illnesses will calm. Your energy will go through the roof and your thinking and understanding will be super fast. When those around you see this change happening in you they will know that you are not putting yourself at risk of harm, but that you are actually doing a really positive thing for your body.
Know your resources. As well as doing your research and having knowledge of your own, you also need to know who to refer people to, the doctors and scientists that have studied nutrition and how it affects the body. You should know the titles of the most respected books, the ones that all vegans talk about, these books contain masses of amazing information and when you read them they will also make you feel even better about what you’re doing. There are also Youtube channels, people on Instagram and Facebook pages that you can tell people to look at because it is important for your family to know that you’re not making anything up, that what you’re telling them is fact.
Learn to prepare as much food for yourself as possible. Quite often the argument that parents make about having a vegan in the family is about having to prepare those special, meat-free meals every day. One way around this is to be able to prepare your own meals. It could be something simple, a frozen jacket potato with beans is a really basic vegan meal that can be cooked in a microwave, you may decide on a sandwich with vegan ham, hummus with carrot sticks with a salad on the side. If you do it yourself no one needs to complain and you can do this with packed lunches too. Just don’t leave a mess behind.
Don’t argue with people. This can be hard, but when people approach you in a negative way just explain what you’re doing and why. Don’t tell them that they are wrong, that they are killing animals or paying people to do it for them; no, focus on the positives of what you’re doing. If they start to argue just walk away, tell them that you will talk to them when they are calm.
Remember that your parents love you. A lot of the negative reaction that you’ll get will come from the fear that something bad will happen to you. Just reassure them and tell them that you appreciate them being worried about you, but that you feel strongly enough about being vegan that you want to do it and that you'll make sure that you'll do it right.
Quite often when you come out as being vegan the initial reaction is negative, but over time people will come round to it, especially if you are consistent. Being vegan until you fancy a doughnut is going to mean that people won't take you seriously. It's also important to not be too strong about your views as that will turn people away too. Make sure that you're informed and you're ready to talk to anyone that wants to know more about veganism, but, most importantly, feel good about what you're doing, because what you're doing is amazing.