I Want To Go Vegan but My Parents Say No

We believe that veganism should be available to everyone. After all, everyone should be able to determine what they put into their bodies, how their actions affect others, the impact they have on the planet, and their own health and wellbeing. But for young people, the decision to be vegan can be challenged or even vetoed by their parents or guardians. Here we take a look at the issues that crop up and find practical ways to address them, so that everyone who wants to eat the kindest, most planet-friendly foods can do so.

Objections to a Child or Teenager Going Vegan

There are many reasons why a parent or guardian may not want their child to go vegan. These range from genuine concerns (“will my child be healthy?”) to the practicalities (“I don’t have time to cook two dinners!”). But each of these issues can be addressed and solutions can be found. First, let’s take a look at the most common queries and concerns that parents and guardians have.

Will My Child Get the Nutrients They Need if They Are Vegan?

A vegan plant-based diet is suitable for people of all ages, and there are millions of families around the world who have raised — or are raising -— happy, healthy vegan children. Of course, whatever our age and dietary choices, we still need the right nutrients to be healthy. It is not enough to remove animal products from our plates, we must make sure we replace the nutrients they contain. Inevitably, there will be a period of transition as you adapt to cooking differently, but there is no reason at all why your child will not flourish as a vegan.

For more information about getting the nutrition right, check out our Health and Nutrition Guide.

How Do I Cook for a Vegan Child?

For most of us, life is pretty busy, and it’s all we can do to get one nutritious meal on the table at the end of the day. And now your child wants to go vegan, and the idea of making a second meal just for them is sending you into a tailspin! But this doesn’t have to be complicated. If they are too young to cook for themselves, you may need to find a few plant-based recipes that taste just as good so the whole family can enjoy them. Alongside this, think about the foods you already make and see which ones can easily be adapted so you can easily produce a vegan version as well as a non-vegan one. If your child is old enough to cook, perhaps you could negotiate. For example, maybe they cook twice a week for the whole family (which will give them valuable skills, and give you a break!) and once a week just for themselves, and you make all the additional meals. 

Here are some of our favorite kid-friendly vegan recipes to get you started.

My Child Wants To Go Vegan but We Cannot Afford It

Studies consistently show that eating a plant-based diet is actually cheaper than eating a diet that contains meat, fish, eggs, and / or dairy. This is because vegetables, grains, and beans are among the cheapest products at the store, whilst animal products are among the most expensive. 

Our perception of veganism as expensive, however, is driven by the comparable prices between animal products and their vegan counterparts. For example, soy milk is often more expensive than dairy milk, and it is possible to buy meat products like burgers cheaper than the vegan options. There are lots of reasons for this, including the subsidies we pay through our taxes that prop up cheap meat and milk, but we know that the price you pay at the till is what matters most here. And so those studies are helpful because they show us that, even if we buy some of those more expensive vegan convenience products, the price of our shopping should still come down overall because we are eating much more of the cheaper plant products.

Check out these budget recipes.

Why Should I Let My Child Be Vegan?

We believe that encouraging people to choose healthy, planet-friendly foods that have not caused great harm to animals is a win all round. Of course, we acknowledge that one family member going vegan may create some challenges and there will be a period of learning, label-reading, and adaptation. However, this will soon become the norm, and creating delicious and nutritious vegan meals will become second nature. Moreover, we would guess that, far from being something negative to be endured, this will be a positive change for everyone. You may even find a new, healthy, tasty, compassionate way of eating that suits you better, too. But whether you decide to join your child on this journey or not, please celebrate them and their ethical stance. Just imagine how different our world would be if we all committed to such altruistic and loving decisions!

How to Persuade My Parents or Guardians I Can Be Vegan

As you have seen, most objections from parents or guardians are based on concerns for their child’s health or worries about additional work or expense. And all of these can be overcome! It’s a simple, three-step process. 

  • Educate
  • Communicate
  • Compromise

Educate Yourself About Veganism

The first thing you need to really understand is your why. Once you know exactly why you want to be vegan, you will be able to show that you are serious about this change, which is an important first step in convincing others. It is also important to consider what you becoming vegan would mean for the other people in your home. We have covered some of the most common issues above but think about what this would mean for the people in your own life. And while you are in learning mode, it would be wise to do a little research on nutrition. Above all, parents and guardians want their children to be healthy, and they may not know that a plant-based diet is great for health because they were not brought up that way. Educate yourself so you can educate and reassure them, too.

Communicate About Veganism

Once you are armed with the facts, it is time for the chat! We recommend you pick your time wisely. It is best not to start this conversation while eating a meal together, and if your parent or guardian seems stressed or exhausted, perhaps that is not the best time either. You could schedule a time by saying: “I’d like to talk to you about becoming vegan. When would be a good time to do that?” 

During the conversation, keep your cool, remember your research, and if they say no, always ask why. There is an answer to all of their concerns, so reassure them and show them that you know what you are talking about. 

Compromise About Becoming Vegan

If your parent or guardian has concerns about you becoming vegan, it might be a good idea to start with a compromise. Compromises allow us all to move a step closer to what we want, and in this case could put their minds at ease. So, what would a compromise look like?

It could be that you try veganism three days a week to begin with as that would allow you all to adapt more gently to this way of eating. It could be that as a family you take part in a 7-day vegan challenge and then discuss any issues you faced at the end of it. Perhaps you will need to offer to cook some meals for yourself or even the whole family. Or perhaps, being vegetarian would be a good starting point, with a view to becoming vegan a little later on.

Only you know what compromises would be appropriate — and you would be willing — to make.

My Parents or Guardian Won’t Let Me Be Vegan

Most adults will compromise on this issue, but if yours won’t, and their answer is a definite no, 

then there are still things you can do. You still have some autonomy, so wherever you get the choice about the foods you eat, choose vegan. This may mean you eat vegan at school, but you eat non-vegan at home. It may be you can pack your own lunch or choose the plant-based option if you all go out to eat. Sometimes, when adults see their children making these choices over a period of time, they realize how much it means to them, and their own objections start to fade away. Stay consistent, and the change will come.

And even if their answer is always ‘no’, one day your food choices will be yours alone. So, keep learning about the issues, make the right choices where you can, and know that veganism is in your future, even if it is not permitted right now.

I Am a Vegan Child or Teenager 

Congratulations! We are delighted that you have made this decision and that the adults in your life have supported you. Having a wide network of people who understand your decision is really important so we would recommend you connect with other vegans, whether that is people you know personally or groups you can connect with online. There are loads of groups where you can swap information and experiences, get some tips and advice if needed, and moan about the people in your life who don’t understand you! 

A Message to Vegan Children and Teenagers

We wanted to end with this message to you from all of us at GenV.

Thank you for being vegan. 

Thank you for taking this important step to protect animals from suffering and distress and for doing all you can to protect our beautiful planet and its inhabitants for the future.

We are proud of you. Making this decision is not always easy, and we know there may be times when you feel you are missing out. If you trip up sometimes, it’s understandable, but please don’t give up. A vegan world is a compassionate, inclusive, beautiful world, and everyone who makes this decision is a hero to us. 

If you need help or support, please connect with us on social media. We are here for you.

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