I recently decided to become a lacto-ovo vegetarian and so far it's been great. Unfortunately my mom is getting on my case about becoming a vegetarian.
Since I'm already thin, she thinks I'm going to lose weight and she keeps insisting that I need to eat meat. She thinks I'll become anemic, or get goiters, etc. I've tried to tell her that I've done research on vegetarian diets and I know what food to eat to have a balanced diet.
Fortunately I'm away at college and I live on my own but I will soon be graduating and heading back home. I won't be living with her when I move back home but I don't want to hear her incessant complaints about my decision to become a vegetarian.
She recently said that my boyfriend (who eats meat) will probably find someone else who cooks better than me and presumably someone who eats meat. I couldn't believe she thought my boyfriend would leave me because I want to become a vegetarian. At first, he was a bit surprised but once he realized I was serious, he was very supportive of my decision. I wish I could say the same about my mom.
I don't know what to do. I just want her to accept my decision and understand that vegetarian diet is very healthy contrary to her beliefs. Any advice? - S. H.
Dear S. H.,
Your Mom's opposition to your vegetarian diet has several possible sources:
1. People sometimes feel uncomfortable or threatened when somebody close to them adopts a different lifestyle. There's strength in numbers, birds of a feather, and all that. They want their nearest and dearest to be like them.
2. She believes, based on what she was taught from childhood, that vegetarian diets are dangerous, that we must eat meat to be well nourished, and isn't open to changing her mind, because after all, she's the Mom, and she knows best.
3. She loves you, and is concerned for your health and well being.
A heart to heart talk asking for her understanding and support might best precede the facts. Your mother should understand that her attitude hurts you, and may drive you away, that you're an adult and free to make your own choices, even if she doesn't agree with them. But of course the opposite is also true, and it's best to avoid conflict.
If she won't support you and won't listen to you, tell her how that makes you feel, as in: I feel, when you, because, I would like, can we agree. That makes it about you and your feelings, not about her, and how wrong she is to be like that. It will take away the element of confrontation.
Once you have her agreement to listen and be open to your explanations, have your facts lined up and supported by statistics, research, etc. If your Mom is too resistant to actually read this stuff, just present it to her simply.
Facts about Veg Protein: See the article: Protein and Vegetarian Diet. And here's an excellent protein article from VNV AU, complete with nutrition tables, resources and references. That site has a lot of great veg nutrition articles, written by David Ogilvie.
'The New Becoming Vegetarian, by Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis is an excellent vegetarian nutrition resource. You can get it online or at most bookstores.
Bringing up the relationship between disease and diet may open your Mom's mind a bit, but again, be careful of making her wrong. Here's an article by Kathy Freston in the Huffington Post: Cancer and Vegetarian Diet. And this one, on diabetes and vegetarian diet.
It's true that some men expect their vegetarian wives or girlfriends to cater to their dietary preferences, and give their own preferences second place. That may be what your Mom has experienced. It shouldn't be necessary, and no self-respecting woman should allow that to happen - but it's all too common, from what I've seen. There is much more equality in relationships than ever before, but it's a very individual thing.
It's not easy to go against family and your upbringing, in food, religion or anything. Please read the SV report, veg-nonveg together, for helpful ideas and info.
Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian