How To Go Vegan When Your Family Isn’t
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Making the decision to go vegan and overhaul your lifestyle is a big change, and doing it alone can be hard enough. Even more so if you don’t have any support.
Feeling so deeply about veganism can make it hard to be around animal-eating family. It can lead to arguments, bitterness and feeling isolated from your family unit. Ultimately, the goal of being vegan in a non-vegan household is to find a happy medium where you don’t have to compromise on your ethics and still maintain healthy family relationships.
Whether you’re still living at home or want to improve relationships with non-vegans, I hope the tips below will help you to go or stay vegan in a meat-eating family – without going mad!
how to go vegan when your family isn’t
Just because you have a clear understanding of what ‘vegan’ means, that doesn’t mean your family does. When you tell your family that you’re going vegan, be super specific about what that means. You’re bound to get a lot of questions right away and some might seem a little silly (“but wait, can you eat BREAD? What about potatoes?”).
Going vegan is a big change, and your family might react in a range of ways. If your family is struggling to remember or understand what ‘vegan’ means, give them a list that clearly outlines the foods you no longer eat, and a list with everyday vegan-friendly foods they probably already have in their kitchen.
Offer to help with the cooking and food shopping
If you want to go vegan while living with non-vegan parents, let them know you are happy to help with the food shopping and cooking throughout the week.
Shopping for vegan-friendly food can be hard for parents when they don’t know what to look for. Either give them a list of foods you don’t eat or vegan meal ideas like mentioned above. Going shopping with them is even better so you can point out the vegan options in each area of the supermarket. Same goes with cooking – getting in the kitchen will take a load off your family and you’ll know exactly what’s going in your meals!
Make it as easy as possible for your family to accommodate for and get used to your transition. As soon as they start to struggle, this can turn into anger, frustration and resentment which can be hard on you and create a stressful environment at home.
Asked to attend a last minute lunch at your Uncle’s house? Parents not able to get home in time to cook dinner before you head off to training? If you can, prepare some basic food so you can ‘grab-and-go’ throughout the week. Cook a big container of rice, make a massive salad to pick from, bake a few whole potatoes, and keep frozen veggies and vegan burgers on hand that you can defrost in a microwave within minutes.
You can’t go wrong with baked beans or canned soup when you’re in a hurry! Having these vegan pantry staples on hand means you’re not relying on anyone else to make your meals, or going without if you’re in a rush.
KEEP CALM AND ACT WITH COMPASSION
Unless you’ve been vegan your entire life, you’ve been in your non-vegan family members’ shoes before. If you’re anything like me, you’ve said “I could never go vegan” countless times before making the connection.
You’re going to have a tough time convincing your parents or siblings to go vegan, or at least give it a go, by shaming their food choices or making snide remarks at everything they eat. Sometimes your family might deliberately make remarks just to get a reaction from you. At first, it’s tempting to snap back but believe me, it’s a lot easier to ignore it. Arguing with family never feels good afterwards. Save your energy for those who are interested in having a genuine conversation about veganism.
Opening their eyes to reality and truth can be a confronting and confusing experience for them – not everyone is at your level of understanding, and that’s ok. Allow them to arrive at their own time and pace.
Never stop learning
Keep educating yourself on the positive impacts of veganism and the reasons why you went vegan in the first place. If you’re the only vegan in the house, you must be prepared to be persistent and patient – you’ll be answering a lot of questions, having (hopefully healthy) debates and engaging in the same repetitive conversations.
You can do this by watching vegan documentaries, listening to podcasts, reading books or following reputable sources online.
Whether you went vegan for the animals, your health, the environment, or a mix of reasons, building a solid knowledge base means you’ll feel more confident when answering questions and debunking myths about veganism.
Share your food
I’m a strong believer that leading by example with a positive and fun attitude is one of the best ways to inspire change within others. Sharing your amazing plant-based food with your family is a great way to show them how delicious and easy it is to be vegan, without saying a word.
Making a large portion of your favourite dish is also one of the best ways to deal with being the only vegan at family gatherings. Bringing your own food is a great way to make sure you’ll have something to eat, and put your host’s mind at ease knowing you’re already catered for. Be careful – they might love it so much they’ll request it every time!
Make vegan connections outside of your family
Even if your family is supportive it’s important to have a community of like-minded people outside of your family to turn to. Even if it’s just one or two fellow vegans, being able to connect with others who share the same values as you will make a world of difference and help you feel less alone.
By sharing tips, personal struggles or even just geeking out over the latest vegan products will create a strong bond that will keep you inspired, motivated and confident about your lifestyle choices.
Take care of yourself
Prioritising self-care as a vegan is vital to avoid burnout and high stress levels.
When you’re new to veganism, it can be hard to stop thinking about the hundreds of thousands of innocent animals that are slaughtered every day, how animal agriculture is ruining the planet, and the fact that your family doesn’t seem to care.
Take care of your mental health by doing non-vegan related activities, exercising regularly, spending time with other vegans, watching your favourite comedy shows on Netflix – anything that that makes you feel good!
While you can’t do everything, remember that your actions are still having a bigger effect on the planet than you probably realise.
Are you the only vegan in your family? Share your experience and advice in the comments below!