Today’s post topic is my answer to a question I received on Instagram:
How can I become vegan in a family of meat-eaters?
This may seem daunting at first, but it isn’t impossible. You can do it!
You might feel like you are restricting or depriving yourself as you watch your family eat the foods you are trying to avoid. Instead of viewing this as restrictive, focus on the positive. By eating a vegan diet you are exposing yourself to new foods. Veganism forces you to “think outside the box” because you have to branch out and try new things instead of sticking to your comfort foods.
Remember why you want to go vegan. Is it for your health? For ethical or environmental reasons? Or do you simply want to try it out? Either way, commit to trying it for a month or however long you decide and see how you feel at the end.
Your family may not be on board with your newfound interest in veganism. They may even view it as a phase. That’s a shame. Even if they don’t have bad intentions, they may come across as “cruel” if they eat meat, cheese, and eggs in front of you. In my experience, whenever someone decides to go vegan (or improve their health in some way), some family members and friends find this intimidating and will try to derail this person’s efforts. It isn’t always intentional, but I’ve seen this happen time and time again.
You are going against the grain, so your family will resist. They might even tease you and try to tempt you with non-vegan foods. Not that they are going to be total jerks, but just putting that out there! Instead of getting angry with them, calmly explain to them you don’t appreciate their behaviour and enlighten them on why you choose to be vegan in the first place. Always try to be a shining example of veganism–I find that is the best way to convince friends and family members to give veganism a try. Who knows, maybe this time next year your entire family will be vegan, and they’ll have you to thank!
Take it one day at a time. Eat vegan foods as often as you can, and try not to stress about your family not being vegan. Take the time you need to find recipes and foods you do like and enjoy. If your family is up for it, maybe you can prepare dinner one night to introduce them to vegan foods, or you can prepare a vegan side dish to go along with their dinner.
When I went vegan years ago, I was in a relationship with a die-hard carnivore. Mealtimes were particularly stressful because we’d be sitting at the same table and I’d watch him enjoy his fried chicken or pizza. It upset me greatly because I was trying so hard to live as a vegan and I felt he was tempting me with this food. I didn’t know any other vegans at the time which made the transition even more difficult!
Fortunately, I quickly realised my anger was unfounded. Going vegan was my choice. So instead of getting upset with him, I just started viewing meat, cheese, eggs, and other animal products as non-food materials. The fried chicken then became as useful to me as a Styrofoam cup when hungry. Meat is a non-edible item in my universe, just like Styrofoam! (He went vegetarian soon after I made the transition and is still vegetarian the last time I checked, maybe he will be completely vegan someday….)
Cravings will be difficult in the beginning as you’re surrounded by your non-vegan family. As long as you eat a varied diet and plenty of calories, your cravings will not be caused by a nutritional deficiency. These cravings are only mental cravings since you are used to eating non-vegan foods. If you are concerned with meeting nutritional requirements, I suggest you track everything you eat and drink on Cronometer.com.
I recommend checking out Veganuary.com as well. They have a page full of vegan myths and explanations (like the protein myth), recipes, and tips for eating out. Also, vegankit.com is an excellent resource to educate yourself (and hopefully your family down the line!) on all aspects of vegan living, including the clothes we wear and products we use every day.