Vegan Deli

Vegan Deli  by Jo Stepaniak

Click here to learn more

Order this book!

 

 

Raising Vegetarian Children
by Jo Stepaniak, M.S.Ed., & Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.

Raising Vegetarian Children

Click here to learn more

Order this book!

 
     

Do you have questions about being vegan? Send them to Jo using this easy form. She would be happy to address your individual concerns as well as general inquiries about vegan ethics, philosophy, practical applications, and living compassionately. Jo cannot respond to questions about nutrition or answer questions that have already been addressed in the Archives

Jo will make every attempt to answer each question personally, however, due to her schedule, this may not be possible. If a reply is forthcoming, it could take up to a few weeks, so please be patient. It is also possible that your question will be answered directly in the "Ask Jo!" column rather than an individual response.

If you'd like to view previous questions Jo has answered, visit the Ask Jo! Archives.

Family Feud over Food

question.gif - 1.4 K I'm a sixteen year old kid who wants to become a vegetarian (I haven't had a bite of meat in a month so far). The thought of eating animals is beginning to make me sick. The only problem is, my family doesn't support this decision. They constantly try to shove meat in my face (I won't eat it) and tell me that I won't get as much protein as I would normally. My mother refuses to make me any vegetarian meals and she tries to sneak meat flavorings or parts in my food. What can I do when I'm living in a house made of meat?

answer.gif - 1.3 K A lot of young people today are making the compassionate choice to become vegetarian, so you are among very good company. It's a hard decision to make because being vegetarian puts a person outside of the mainstream at an age when conformity is highly valued and peer pressure is particularly strong. It is especially difficult when parents are antagonistic about it. However, just because you don't receive encouragement or support at home doesn't mean you are wrong or that you should give up trying.

It's not unusual for nonvegetarian parents to balk when daughters or sons tell them they want to stop eating meat. Generally, it's because the parents are misinformed or don't know much about vegetarianism, and, as with most things, what we don't know can be frightening. For parents, the health and well-being of their children is paramount, and your mother is worried that you won't get adequate nutrition on a vegetarian diet. She may not understand what is motivating you to be a vegetarian, and even if she does she may feel that you are challenging your family's values and lifestyle. Some parents interpret this as threatening or disrespectful. Your mother could be concerned that you won't fit in or be able to go to social events with your friends or family if you are vegetarian. And, since it appears that your mother does most of the cooking, she may think that she will have to make separate meals to accommodate you and that her work will be doubled.

In order for your determination to be convincing, you will need to take the initiative in several ways. Learn as much as you can about being vegetarian and be clear about why it is important to you. Be prepared to explain your reasons to your parents without getting defensive or angry. Educate yourself about vegetarian nutrition so you know what you need to eat to stay healthy. Supply your parents with books and other literature so they can read about it for themselves. My book "The Vegan Sourcebook" contains comprehensive information about the modern history of the vegan movement, vegan ethics and philosophy, environmental aspects, psychological and sociological perspectives, and much more. It also has a thorough nutrition section written by Virginia Messina, MPH, RD, one of the leading vegetarian dietitians in the U.S., along with nutrition charts, menu plans just for teens, and recipes. Another of my books, "Vegan Vittles," provides concise information about vegan nutrition written by Suzanne Havala, RD, as well as essays on the ethical aspects of veganism and a wide range of recipes. Two outstanding and very comprehensive books on vegetarian nutrition are "The Vegetarian Way" by Virginia Messina, MPH, RD, and Mark Messina, PhD, and "Becoming Vegetarian: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Vegetarian Diet" by Vesanto Melina, Brenda Davis, Victoria Harrison, all registered dietitians (Book Publishing Co.). Two highly informative and very supportive books are "A Teen's Guide to Going Vegetarian" by Judy Krizmanic (Puffin) and "For the Vegetarian in You" by Billy Ray Boyd (Prima). The Vegetarian Resource Group (P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, Maryland 21203, phone: 410-366-8343) has lots of materials on vegetarian nutrition and would be another excellent source for information. The North American Vegetarian Society (Box 72, Dolgeville, NY 13329, phone: 518 568-7970) has a terrific booklet of recipes called "Vegetarian Cooking for a Better World" by Muriel Golde Dugan, MA, MS, MLS, and another booklet called "Good Nutrition: A Look at Vegetarian Basics." Both of these are great tools for anyone getting started with vegetarianism.

Be willing to cook meals for yourself. Share recipes with your mother, but let her know that you will agree to do your own cooking and clean-up if she doesn't want to. All of the books, pamphlets, and organizations listed above offer easy recipes that will help to get you started. My book "Table For Two" contains recipes designed for two people. You could prepare these small-size recipes and use the leftover portions for another lunch or dinner. Offer to do your own food shopping and make your own lunches as well (if your school cafeteria doesn't provide vegetarian options). Help in any way you can to make your "being different" less of a hassle for the other people in your family.

Brothers, sisters, cousins, and other family and friends will inevitably razz you. This is typically just good-natured teasing that happens in nearly all families or groups when a member does something out of the ordinary. Even though it can be frustrating and irritating, it's generally done out of love with no real intent to hurt, so try not to let it get the best of you.

Your family loves you and wants the best for you. If you demonstrate the awareness and maturity to research the matter, and prove to them that you have the motivation to eat a well balanced diet and cook for yourself when necessary, they may very well come to be more accepting and respectful of your decision.




Copyright © 1998-2013 by Jo Stepaniak   All rights reserved.
Nothing on this web site may be reproduced in any way
without express written permission from the copyright holder.

 

 
 

Vegan Vittles:
Second Helpings

Vegan Vittles: Second Helpings by Jo Stepaniak

Click here to learn more

Order this book!

 

 

The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook

Click here to learn more

Review by Dan Balogh

View Readers' Comments

Order this book!

 

 

The Food Allergy
Survival Guide

The Food Allergy Survival Guide

Click here to learn more

Order this book!