How To Tell Your Family You're Vegan
Vegan AF recently conducted a survey of vegans across 9 African countries. One of the questions was ‘What was the hardest part about going vegan?’ Many of the answers had to do with the conversation about veganism — explaining that they have adopted the lifestyle to friends and family.
In today’s post, we will highlight some tips on how to tell your family that you’re vegan (or transitioning to vegan). While plant-based living is quite common in Africa and is gaining traction around the world, it can be hard and oftentimes nerve-wracking to let your friends and family know that you are choosing a new path. There’s an unfortunate perception that forgoing animal products is an ‘extreme’ way of eating and living. Many doubtful questions come up such as ‘Will they understand?’ ‘Will they make fun of me?’ ‘Will they be supportive?’ ‘Will they attack me?’ as I make this lifestyle shift. We hope our tips can help make the process of sharing your exciting decision to adopt a kinder, sustainable way of eating, a lot smoother. Go in With a Positive Attitude & Speak from the Heart When you made the decision to go plant-based, you undoubtedly had good intentions. Whether it’s for health, to save the planet, to stop climate change, for the animals, to end deforestation, or to end world hunger -all of these are amazing reasons! Show your enthusiasm, motivation, and anticipation for starting the awesome journey ahead. Let them know why you chose this path and be sure to use ‘I statements’ such as ‘I saw a documentary about how healthy a vegan diet is and would like to eat more plant-based.’ This way, you keep the focus on yourself and your truth. If they see how excited and passionate you are, they likely will be supportive of your choice.
Keep the Focus on You & Don’t Pressure Them to Change More often than not, when you open up about going vegan, many people get defensive and put up a wall. They start making excuses for their eating habits and can even go on to list reasons why they could never go vegan. If this happens, keep a positive attitude and calmly remind them that this is a personal decision that you’ve made and reassure them that you’re not pressuring them to change. Just like you wouldn’t want your parents to tell you what to do and what to eat, they also wouldn’t appreciate you dictating their eating habits. Doing this will not only maintain harmony, but it will also make your family members more respectful and open to changing their own lifestyle. Find Nutritional Information That May Come Up. One of the first questions you’ll definitely be asked about is where you get your protein, B12, and other vitamins and nutrients. Do your research and find places and examples of where to get these nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. When the conversation happens, be prepared to answer these questions that may be concerning to them and reassure them that you’re getting sufficient nutrients and consuming nutrient-dense foods. If it helps, you can show them your research.
Tell Them at the Right Time. This is a sensitive conversation and because of that, you need to find a suitable time to sit down with your family and friends. Don’t start the conversation when your family is busy or in a bad mood. Telling them in these conditions may lead to frustrations and unnecessary arguments. Pick a time when they’re in a good mood and are not preoccupied. Offer to Help with Meal Prep and Surprise Them with Delicious Vegan Food It may be too much to ask for people to cook a whole separate meal for you. To make it easier for everyone to adjust, learn how to cook your meals and find recipes online for delicious plant-based foods. Take advantage of the already vegan dishes your family may be eating such as potatoes, vegetables, pasta, rice, and more. Suggest meatless Mondays where you prepare them a great vegan meal so that they see that you’re not missing out on anything. You could also make something and tell them it’s vegan after they’ve already eaten and enjoyed the meal. This will make them understand that you’re still eating well and that your diet is not restrictive.
With these simple steps, telling your friends and family can exceed your expectations and bring a sense of relief. If it all goes well, you’ll set yourself up for a positive relationship with them when it comes to supporting your journey. Remember to keep the conversation positive and help them understand your decisions. Ultimately remember that you don’t need their blessing to be the best vegan you can be. So don’t worry about their reaction too much, and enjoy all the beautiful things about going plant-based. We’re proud of you!