When I turned vegan I considered many things including “where would I get my protein?” “Would it be harder to cook?” or “more expensive” and “how would it affect my weight?” One of the biggest hurdles for me with veganism was something I never ever considered – “How would it affect my parents?” When I went vegan 3 years ago I had been out of my parent’s nest for nearly 10 years. During those 10 years, I don’t think they ever asked me what I ate for dinner or asked about how I was obtaining certain nutrients in my diet but once I told them I was going vegan that is all they could think about!
“I just can’t cook for you anymore!”
They began to look at me like I was a different person and like I was looking down upon them for their choices. What used to be a simple family dinner I now experienced the sweating face of my mother saying “I just can’t cook for you anymore” I think it’s the mothers who take it the hardest. No mother likes to feel like she’s failing her kids in the kitchen. No matter how hard I try to explain that I would just take what everyone else was having minus the animal products she still couldn’t lose the concerned face. If she was making mashed potatoes and vegetables with a pork chop I would remove my potatoes before she added the milk and butter and have the veggies plain boiled or steamed, I’d make my own little cup of vegetable gravy. I would be sitting at the table feeling quite content and satisfied. But my parents would be looking at me with a mixture of fear, concern and a small bit of anger. They’d pity me that I didn’t have the pork chop that they love so much. They imagine that I must be hungry without it. (Ignoring the mountain of potatoes and veggies on my plate). To them, I am depriving myself. My diet is extreme. No matter how much I tell them how good I am feeling and no matter how healthy I look they’ll still use that same old line “Are you sure you’re getting proper nutrition?” They’ll still put milk in my coffee and say “Oh sure it’s made now why don’t you just drink it? ”Every so often I’ll get the disapproving look “you don’t even eat butter??” – No Dad if I don’t drink milk then I don’t eat butter.
Now, this is irritating but it is an irritation that I am willing to live with. It is difficult to throw away everything you thought you knew about food and take on a whole new outlook. Sure our parents can use the argument that sure they always ate meat and butter or what they call a “normal diet” and sure look at them healthy and happy. That is a valid argument but they also consider the aches and pains they get as they’re getting older as normal and heartburn and indigestion are normal. My choice to follow a vegan diet to them is like me turning my nose up to what they thought was right for me and what their parents taught them and of course, it makes them worry – What if I am wrong? It does break my heart a little at times when I visit and a spread of cakes and biscuits is placed out especially for me and I don’t eat it and know it breaks their heart a little too. I know they are doing exactly as they were taught was right and they have all the best intentions. All I can do is comfort them and assure them that I am ok that I am healthy.
Sure some of you may have parents that have considered going vegan or vegetarian after you did but we are not all so fortunate. So when I find myself getting irritated at them for asking silly questions, or for trying to convince me to eat meat all I do is remember that they are doing it because they care. I give a smile back and tell them not to worry. I still go to Sunday dinner and watch the sweating faces and concerned looks but I also see the love in their eyes, and that’s why I’ll always enjoy dinner with the parents. (minus the dairy.)