Imagine becoming a vegan overnight and returning home from college to find all of your favorite childhood foods stocked in all the cupboards and the fridge. A memory is tied to almost every item, and you wish you could just dig into the best of your childhood classics.
Instead, you have embraced a new lifestyle that brings you a different kind of joy than your old eating habits. However, your family hasn’t exactly jumped on board. Yeah I know, it’s tough.
Luckily for you, if your family is as cool as mine, they want to learn about all of these new plant-based dishes you have come to love, and all the tips and tricks you have mastered while adopting this new lifestyle.
I wanted my whole family to basically become vegan in an instant like I did. The reality is that most people can’t go all in right away. Here are some of the ways I have learned to survive being a vegan when everyone around me isn’t.
Actions speak louder than words
I am loving my vegan lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean I have the right to force it on anyone else. I’ve learned that if I show them the way I eat, and offer to send them the recipe, they are more prone to trying it out. This is better than talking their ear off about how my diet is better and making them feel like I disapprove of their lifestyle. I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work out so well.
Educate them by recommending other sources besides you
Cookbooks, documentaries, podcasts, the Internet — it worked for me so maybe it will work for them. Offer to watch a documentary like Forks Over Knives with your family, play a podcast from a plant-based eater like The Rich Roll Podcast, or buy them a vegan cookbook.
These resources have helped me to teach them everything I’ve learned even more effectively than if I were to attempt to explain the benefits to veganism myself.
Volunteer to grocery shop and help make dinner
When I offer to take some of the load off when I’m home from school, it makes everyone’s job easier. I can ensure that there will be food that I can enjoy as well as my other family members if I’m the one helping out with the chores. If eating out is easier, I always try to pick a restaurant that has a ton of options so everyone is satisfied.
Agree to disagree
Just because I am passionate about eating a plant-based diet doesn’t mean my family will be, and that is OK. I try to be realistic in what I expect out of my family. Make sure that they know that all you’re asking for is support, rather than asking everyone to become vegan with you. I have agreed to accept the fact that we are all different. They’re my family and I love them.
Food is personal and is often attached to someone’s culture or reminds them of their childhood. Changing the way you eat is one of the hardest things to do; so even though you have, it may be hard for your family to do the same. Over time, you may be able to influence them to eat the same way. For right now, just worry about you and trust me, you’ll be surprised with how well everything works out.