Tara’s Tuesday Tips:
How To Be Vegetarian
When Your Family Is Not
Making the decision to change is never easy. Change is good, right? Well, yes, except when you are ready to change and the people around you are not. In that case, change can be awkward. The decision to become vegetarian can bring on family tension, arguments, and even cause people to drift apart.
Hopefully my tips this week help make the change to vegetarianism easier for you and the people you love.
- Start with Why: I know, most of my tips start with this. That’s because it is so important. If you know why, you can clearly communicate why. No arguing there. Need some ideas? Read my article about reasons people become vegetarian.
- Ask them why: Now that you know why you became a vegetarian, you can communicate your why to the people you love. Next, it is their turn. There is a reason they are reacting to your decision the way that they are. Once you figure out why they are reacting that way, you can educate them with a loving heart. Give them time. They may not actually know.
- Some possibilities? they are worried about your health, they think you are crazy, they think you can’t do it, they think you will die of protein deficiency or anemia, they think you can’t afford it, they are jealous.
- Learn how to cook: This one is important. Lead by example. Let them see you in action. They will see that you are not going to starve and that your new food actually tastes good!
- Always show up prepared: NEVER show up to their house hungry. ALWAYS show up with lots and lots of delicious plant-based food that they can’t resist, and you have plenty of it to share. Need some ideas of what to bring? How about chili, or hummus, or vegetable curry or even a giant pot of lentils (always a winner!)
- Make friends: Talk about it! You will be so surprised to find out how many people are vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, or are curious about it and wish they were doing it too. There are social media platforms full of people who love animals, love cooking yummy plant-based dishes, and they love to take pictures of all of it (@myvegetarianfamily 😉). Getting connected with like-minded people will make you feel less alone.
- Don’t judge them: You don’t want to be criticized for your decision to eat a plant-based diet, right? Then don’t do it to them. We have a rule in My Vegetarian Family. We don’t judge meat eaters. We have our reasons for not eating meat and (hopefully) they have their reasons why they eat meat (not sure what those might be 😊). We don’t comment on the smell of their food or the giant head of an animal on the wall. We try to be peacemakers. Here’s another one of our rules: always ask if your comment is helpful or hurtful. If you are trying to keep peace with your family during your transition to vegetarianism (and beyond) only say helpful things. Simply put, don’t say, “gross, how could you eat that?”. Got it?
- Arm yourself with facts: You have a phone, right? Good. In your notes app or any app where you keep lists, keep a list. A list of facts and resources. Documentaries, videos, articles, websites that give real facts, disprove myths and are credible resources about the health benefits of vegetarianism and raising vegetarian kids. Share that list with your family members when they question you. Know the facts yourself so (if necessary) you can have an honest, factual debate without all the baggage and emotions.
- Know the results: Did you lose 10 lbs since becoming vegetarian, or drop your cholesterol 50 points, maybe you came off your blood pressure medication or cut 20 minutes off of your marathon time. Track the data and brag about it.
- House divided: What if the unwilling family member is your spouse or significant other? First you need to decide if this is a deal breaker. Once you have decided it isn’t, move on. Move on to figuring it out without preaching or placing blame. Don’t live your life trying to convert him or her. Instead, spend your time thinking about recipes that can be made vegetarian with a meat add-on, how to set up the kitchen so that you aren’t always contaminating the vegetarian food with meat, and what plant-based staples you can regularly enjoy together.
- Live it: Be good at being vegetarian. DO: Pack snacks, meal prep, do the grocery shopping, read, test out new recipes. DON’T: complain about missing meat or complain about the time/energy/money you have invested into your new lifestyle. DO: send them to MyVegetarianFamily.com to learn all about being vegetarian!
All the best,
Need more advice? Have something helpful to add to my list? Have a Tuesday Tips topic request? Leave a comment below! We love comments!
→ You can always find me on Instagram @myvegetarianfamily where you can follow me and my daily food journey AND be sure to subscribe here to my weekly emails for tips and recipes so that you never miss a veggie thing!