Hi! My dad just came to visit me today at my house, and he took me grocery shopping and out to dinner as a treat. He and I don't have a super close relationship, but I thought it was getting better since I live on my own now and no longer am with my parents on a regular basis. However, when I suggested a Mexican Restaurant, he said, "What can you eat there? Cheese? Eggs and beans?" I said, "Dad, I don't eat cheese, and I don't eat dairy products or eggs." He flipped out and said I was going crazy and that I was going to kill myself by eating nothing, and he said, "You HAVE to eat cheese, eggs and fish; they are good for you. You NEED to eat them." He was really angry, and I didn't know how to react. I even choked a little when he asked what I do eat; my reply was a meager "beans, tofu, grains, vegetables." My dad is a conventional doctor, and he told me I can't live on that stuff, that it is merely supplementary to meat, cheese, and eggs. I told my parents months ago that I was vegetarian and don't eat animal products, but they refuse to stop buying me milk chocolate and baked goods with eggs in them. I feel so guilty, but I end up packaging those things and giving them as gifts to my friends or to the food drives at my gym. I just feel so guilty, and I'm worried because I'm going to visit my family for a week at Christmas, and both my mom and dad were (apparently) under the impression that I eat fish, eggs, and dairy. I suppose I wasn't clear enough because I knew they would react badly. However, I don't want to eat the stuff just for them because my body feels miserable when I do. Any advice for my week at home? I am going to do the bulk of the cooking because my parents love the meals I make, but I don't know what to do when they keep buying me baked goods, milk chocolate, eggs, yogurt...I feel like I am being spoiled by not accepting their generosity :(.
My parents live an hour and a half away from me, so they drive up occasionally, and that's when they bring me milk chocolate and pastries, even though I said that 1) I don't eat white sugar, 2) I don't have dairy, and 3) am a vegan who does not eat animal products. I'm so frustrated and sad about this! Sorry for the rant :(.
Oh, Evie, I soooo feel your pain on this one. My dad, too, is a conventional dr and used to scream and yell at me when I was a kid and cried at the table because I did not want to eat meat. Years later, as a teen, one of his dr friends treated me for a stomach condition and recommended a veg diet! Vindication!!! But he never liked it and he used to ridicule my food at every meal just to be mean... Eventually he had to stop because I simply sat quietly, respectfully, eating my food, refusing to fight. Now we no longer have a relationship because he is a toxic person with addiction issues and I had to make a choice to protect my kids from him. This decision became much easier when he left my mom... why am i going into all this??? The point is- it takes two people to fight. Maybe if you calmly point out at a time when there is no argument brewing about it that many respected physicians advise a vegan diet? Be prepared with examples of doctors and successful athletes, and so forth. Don't give up! It will get better! People who love you will be worried and resistant to your change for a while until they see that it is good for you. xoxoxo Donna
Thank you so much, Donna. My dad also has a temper, and he will scream and yell when he thinks I'm doing something wrong (which is fairly frequent! haha). He is especially unhappy about the vegan diet, as his favorite thing to say to me when I cook a meal is, "If this has soy in it, I'm not eating it." My mom will be better when I go home because her doctor advised her to eat less meat and refined carbs (ooo what a shocker!! lol), so she'll have me cooking meals to those exact specifications! My dad does the cooking when I'm not home, and he includes meat in every dish. His idea of a whole grain is whole wheat pasta or rice noodles. Anyway, I think you are right about taking the calm, non-confrontational approach. The trick will be not to get stranded with no food available when we go out. My parents like chain restaurants like Red Lobster and Dennies. I don't want to make too many "special" requests at restaurants because that will really spark my dad's anger, but I'll do what I must. I should try to bring snacks on outings I suppose. I really don't want to give the impression that vegans can't eat anything! I will do my best :). I'm looking forward to making my mom actual whole grains such as brown rice with rye berries, quinoa, farro, millet...mmm. I am going to count on Alicia's book A LOT that week. I am coming armed with my 5 carefully selected vegan cookbooks and a bunch of recipes bookmarked.
I can somewhat relate Evie, when I casually mentioned it to my dad, he about lost it. His main arguments.."You NEED dairy!!! Where are you going to get your calcium?? Where are you going to get your protein??" and the ever popular "You can't AFFORD to be vegan!!" Then it was the teases and jokes every other second about tofu. This weekend when I go home for the holidays, I'm coming armed with 3 great vegan desserts. Being me, I won't tell them they are vegan until they've started digging in. Looking forward to the suprised look on my dad's face when he realized he you can eat damn well on a vegan diet! Just remember there are a TON of people here who always have you back!!
My parents are inured to the challenges I've confronted them with over the years but while traveling to Europe to visit my elderly grandmother my aunt learned that I wasn't giving my kids dairy and freaked out. I hadn't spoken to her in years but she just blasted me for being a bad parent and my kids needed to be removed from my custody etc. It really upset my grand mother until I explained it to her later. My aunt is an oncologist (cancer doctor) and also claimed smoking is ok. She actually smokes. She said Americans worry about our food and complain about smoking too much which is why we get cancer. I explained to my grandmother that this doctor would give my kids cigarettes and cheese and claim both are healthy.
I really don't have anything to add to what the others have said, but I felt so bad for you after reading your post that I wanted to give you some encouragement. :) Good luck visiting your parents, and hopefully as time goes on they will see that you are not wasting away from your food choices. Maybe try to remind them of all the things you've accomplished on your own (school, career, living on your own, etc) and they will come to respect your dietary decision as another adult choice that you've made after careful consideration. Also, you may want to leave a copy of "The China Study" laying around for your dad to find. ;)
I have an approach that may be a little different. I admit I am non-confrontational, and I'm all for educating people, however, sometimes you just have to agree to disargree. Your mom seems more open, maybe you can just gently ask her to stop bringing the food, and eventually she will hear you. Until then, give it to frends or donate, it's helping someone, right?? My dad is not angry about what I'm doing, he just thinks it's ridiculous, but he'll eat things I cook, my mom is all for it, so I have support (my hubbie too, kids are just unaware) But, if you value your parents relationship, maybe it's best to just agree to disargree and not force to much info down their throats. Don't eat what you don't want to, fix them yummy non threatening food (no tofu seaweed), don't order crazy out, just get simple salads... this may seem like the easy way out, but its your dad, and it doesn't sound like you're gonna convince him, so let it go.
Dear Evie, I guess when you metioned Denny's and Red Lobster it stereotypes exactly where they are in THEIR life. Not yours. There isn't one thing 'healthy' on those menus and perhaps you could pretend a 'sickness' lol. But honestly, there comes a time when you are your own person. I'm 46 and I can still hear my dad's 'disapproval' in my mind and he passed away 14 years ago. A great line a lovely, enligtened woman told me 3 years ago was "Remember, family is not necessarily one made of blood". To this day, I feel so connected to the rest of the PLANET because of those words....and not necessarily 'connected' to the ones that brought me into this world. Family can be the biggest judgement threats to us and can disable us. To this day (for the past 6 years). I spend Christmas AWAY from 'extended' family and my husband and my daughter and her boyfriend go away.....Palm Springs, New York , anywhere!!! And the 4 of us have a VERY HAPPY VEGAN CHRISTMAS!! we have a blast and my mom and sister (etc. etc.) have all become used to it. It is way too stressful to have to defend me and that is NOT what my holiday time should be all about. LIVE your VEGAN life!! ENJOY your life!! LOVE what you believe in!! Evie, you're a very good girl!!! The China Study is a GREAT read for your dad....also Diet for a New America!! John Robbins. Great idea. Be well, Kelly