Here are some responses that parents show about vegetarianism and veganism, and ways for you to respond to them.
- “Vegetarianism is too hard within a family. It is too difficult to make two different meals.”
We have plenty of resources on this website that will help you make your diet change as easy on your parents as possible. First, see this article on how vegetarianism or veganism will likely affect your family.
Also, you won’t need to make two meals, just one big meal with two parts–one part with meat, and one part with vegetarian food. See here to learn how to make vegetarian or vegan versions of your family meals.
- “You’ll be unhealthy on a vegetarian diet. You won’t be able to get ______ nutrient.”
Which nutrients are your parents worried about? Are they most worried about protein? If so, the show them the protein article. What if they’re worried about calcium? Then show them the article about calcium. Are they worried about another nutrient? See the nutrition section for a description of that nutrient. In the nutrition section of this website, there are explanations and practical suggestions for eight different nutrients.
You can also track your nutrition for a month to prove to them that you can be completely healthy on a vegetarian or vegan diet.
- “Vegetarianism is too expensive.”
There are ways to reduce the cost of vegetarian and vegan diets. Also, your family probably already buys a lot of food that’s plant-based, anyway, so you won’t need to buy a ton of new food. See this article for tips about saving money.
If your family eats at fast food places often, there are vegan and vegetarian options there.
- “Vegetarian diets are bland. Vegetarians can only eat salad and tofu.”
Vegetarian and vegan diets have so much delicious variety. Just show them my big list of plant-based foods!
Also, vegetarians and vegans eat everything that non-vegetarians eat, just without the meat. See this article to learn how to make vegetarian or vegan versions of foods you already eat.
Cook a few meals for your parents to prove to them that plant-based food is delicious.
- “Vegetarianism is just another one of those phases or fads.”
Yes, teenagers, myself included, go through a lot of “phases,” so this concern is totally understandable.
However, choosing to eat vegetarian or vegan is different from obsessing over a band. Eating less meat and animal products really affects the world, while obsessing over a band obviously does not.
- “Vegetarians are dirty hippies.”
All sorts of people are vegetarians and vegans, from all political opinions, all lifestyles, and all personalities. If your parents are conservative, show them that Matthew Scully, George W. Bush’s former speechwriter, wrote a book about vegetarianism.
If your parents are liberal, there definitely are more examples. For example, Bill Clinton and Ellen Degeneres are vegan.
- “If you go vegetarian, you’ll change.”
You can change if you want to, but going vegetarian or vegan does not mean that you must change. You can still be the same person, just more aware about animal cruelty, environmental destruction, or health.
- “If you go vegetarian or vegan, you’ll lose all your friends.”
Changing your diet does not mean that you will lose friends. You will only lose friends if, once you become vegan or vegetarian, you become angry at everyone for eating meat. If you are friendly and non-judgmental, you will be fine. See this article for more tips about vegetarianism and your social life.
Also, as corny as it sounds, if your friends are your real friends, then they will not care if you are vegan.
- “Vegetarians have been brainwashed.”
Factory farming is not propaganda. It is definitely real and disastrous for everyone involved. Factory farming has been documented so many times by so many different people that denying factory farming is denying facts. See this link for further information and proof of factory farming.
If your parents are skeptical about factory farming’s impact on the environment, then show them the United Nation’s opinion of vegetarianism and the environment. If your parents don’t believe in climate change or environmental issues, then I can’t help you much. Try to focus on animal rights reasons for going vegetarian or vegan.
Vegetarians and vegans can be perfectly healthy. If your parents believe you are brainwashed to believe this, then show them the articles in the nutrition section. All the my claims about nutrition are supported by quotes from registered dietitians.
Some things you may believe about vegetarianism may actually be false. Some vegans and vegetarians make claims like “veganism will solve world hunger” or “veganism will bring perfect health.” I myself do not believe these claims, and I totally understand why your parents might not either.
- “You will never go vegetarian or vegan. I refuse to hear about it ever again.”
Why are they saying no? Yes, you must do what they say, but why can’t you go vegetarian or vegan? There must be another reason, and probably that reason is one of the reasons above.
Keep asking why. You can’t do much until you find out why they won’t let you go vegetarian. Once you know why, respond accordingly.