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Family Wants Vegan To Eat Meat and Dairy

I want them to understand I'm healthy, happy & don't need meat

I've been vegetarian for about three years and I'm happy and very healthy. I recently became vegan and I still have a very healthy diet and don't feel deprived. I actually experiment more with food and eat more exotic things.

However, my family tries to get me to eat meat and dairy and assumes I have an eating disorder (which is clearly not true since I love food and never miss a hearty meal!!) How do I get them to understand I don't eat meat or dairy? - O.K.

Savvy Vegetarian Advice:

Dear O.K.,

Re: Your family trying to get you to eat meat. It is exasperating, when you're doing great, and why can't they see that? Try to understand where they're coming from.

Your family loves you, and they're concerned about your welfare. They don't see what's really happening with you. They just see that you don't eat meat and dairy, and in their minds, that means you're malnourished.

People are conditioned to believe that you must eat lots and lots of meat and dairy or you'll have nutritional deficiencies, especially protein, with unimaginably horrible results.

The best thing to do is try to gently educate them, without blaming them, and trying to get them to change. Sound impossible? It's a hard, thankless task, but somebody's gotta do it!

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Instead of being defensive, turn the meat offers and questions back on your relatives. When someone offers you meat, say, "I feel good with my diet - why do you keep on offering me meat?" Then their fears will (hopefully) come out in the open, and you can give them some information that will reassure them.

Here's an SV article: Vegetarian Protein - Myth and Reality, which should give you some ideas what to tell them.

Keep it simple and brief - you don't want to give them more information than they can take in and process at one time. If your family isn't receptive, there's not a lot you can do, but to keep reassuring them that you're fine, with humor and kindness, remembering that they love you.

Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian

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