My parents / guardians won’t let me be vegan

Parents and guardians worry. That’s their job. When it comes to veganism, they may have legitimate concerns, such as your health, the cost, or the practicalities of catering for you. These can all be addressed with some time, patience, and the right information.

First, not everyone understands that you can get all the nutrients you need on a vegan diet. To counter their concern, you will need to do your own research. Books like The China Study and How Not to Die are eye-opening, full of useful information, and will reassure you and your family that a plant-based diet is the healthiest choice. Then, why not invite them to sit down with you and watch a documentary like What the Health, Vegucated, or The Game Changers. These—alongside some of our powerful success stories—should help dispel a few myths, show how varied and healthy a plant-based diet can be, and may just inspire them to join you.

Parents and guardians may also assume that vegan food is more expensive to buy. In fact, research indicates that it is cheaper to create plant-based meals. It is true that some replacement foods, such as vegan cheese or butter may cost more than the dairy versions, but as vegetables, grains, and legumes are so much cheaper than meat, the overall cost should come down.

Then comes the issue of practicality. If a parent or guardian is the main cook in your house, you can see why they would not take kindly to having to cook two different meals every day, so some compromise may be required. If you are able to cook, or can learn, why not offer to make two meals a week for everyone in the house? Then you might negotiate another two nights where there is a meal that can easily be adapted for you. This could be as simple as putting a vegan pizza in the oven alongside a non-vegan one or making a stir-fry and removing the vegan portion before the shrimps are added at the last minute. For the remaining three nights, you could simply make your own food and let your family eat theirs. Negotiate whatever works best for you, and you’ll find it doesn’t take long to get into a new routine where everyone is happy.

Alternatively, you could ask to go vegan just for a trial period, such as 30 days. In that time, you will need to make sure you help out as much as possible and cook when asked to do so. But if you make amazing meals during that time, and your parents or guardians can see how healthily you are eating and how easy it is to be vegan, their concerns are likely to melt away.

However, if their answer is still “no,” you may have to wait until you are older before you become fully vegan. Between now and then, you will still have the ability to make some choices about what you eat, and whenever you do have a choice, you can choose plants.

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