Last weekend my wife and I attended a family get together. A quick history , is my side of the family are avid meat eaters and hunters. Hunting and meat is a staple in their lives, but also most of them have no appreciation for animal life unfortanately and find cute things like squirrels and chipmunks and gophers, etc. as just things to shoot at throughout the year. Ok, so I am sure you get the jist of what I am about to delve into. We knew what was going to happen if they found out, but didn't want to hide who we have become, but wanted to have a good time also. It was easy to eat before dinner on veggies and fruits and skip the meats and cheeses. When dinner came and we were loading up on corn, veggies, fruit and not putting steak, elk, deer, fish, chicken, etc. on our plates, that is when people began noticing. To say everyones reaction was stunned is an understatement. We told them our reasoning and of course that then led to accusations of us putting a label on them all as bad people, as being cruel to animals, etc. etc. I knew just saying the word vegan was going to stir high emotions with them all and lets just say our loving family member had now become angry family members telling us to go hunt vegetables, to move out of the entire area over here and go live with the animal loves and tree huggers. Everyone pretty much ignored us from that point on and would not talk to us though we tried. We tried to talk, but people would just brush us off. We ended up deciding to leave and no one cared, but my mom who did support us. Today my mom told me the family has basically cut us out and said she won't repeat the things they are saying about us. But, we will stay strong and not falter. It's sad, but we will not give up our beliefs no matter what others think of us, even if it means the family wants to shun us and think of us as the cruel ones. Craig
Craig- Thats just awful! Who needs enemies with family like that? I know where you are coming from. I have family that are very "Meat & potatoes" (also hunters) and can only imagine what they would say if they knew that I was trying vegan. Its sad at how little people open their minds and research something before they take a negative stand. Hang in there, if they are so willing to cut you and your family out of their lives you just might be better off.
Good for you for standing your ground. I face a similar situation, whereas I have not been cut out, I am still labeled as weird and radical. One family member is mad at me because they wanted to cook for me for Christmas and I said I was becoming vegan - they didn't think they could cook "that kind of food." This person seems to have taken my change in lifestyle it as a direct insult! Luckily, my parents and a couple other family members, the only ones I really care about, are supportive and some have even inquired about veganism. My parents will be making the switch soon. Another family member is impressed with my weight loss (hey, anything to get people on board) and now she is rethinking her diet.
I look at this as an opportunity to choose a whole new set of family members, like my neighbor and friend who I cook with several times a week - and my friends who, while not vegan, are supportive.
I just think to myself that I am better off as a vegan and doing my small part to ease suffering in this world. Just stay around positive people like yourself and you will be better off, like Kelly said.
Consider the source and try not to take it personally. Most folks look at any situation in the frame of "what does it mean about/to me?" If people were more empathetic, i.e. able to step into another's shoes for a moment, they would realize that "to each his own" is a better mantra. Your family will likely get over whatever imagined affront caused them to cut you off, but if not, realize it is not about you at all. Cordially maintain your boundaries.
It's funny how seriously people take other people's food preferences! When nosy people ask me why I don't eat this or that, I usually just look them straight in the eye and say, "I just don't like it." (Who cares about my reasons?) People are generally pretty sympathetic when they just think I am a regular old picky eater. It also helps that I am gradually reducing my animal intake instead of quitting cold turkey (no pun intended). People don't notice as much when you occasionally opt out of the meat entrees without any fuss.
It is funny - and bizarre! When I told my family/inlaws they looked at me like I told them I was dying. The question of concern was "what are we going to cook for you?!" After a long explanation of why I was doing this and reassuring them I was going to always fend for myself (which would also entail cooking new yummy foods for them) they seemed to calm down. This was about 2 months ago and now whenever we meet up, they tell me how great I look and want to know more about "my secret". I am happy and proud to share info with them - I think they see just how great it is! Craig, hopefully your family will come around soon - good luck!
Craig, I come from a Mexican American family where meat must be consumed all the time. Hispanic food is high in cholesterol, and high in sodium and fat. My mother in law and my parents thought how myself, my wife and baby where going to survive on such a plant based diet. I had to explain that protein is found in many veggies and fruits, as well as whole grains and legumes. Many people at my work still cannot believe of my life style and surprisingly have reduced the amount of animal protein. I have started my vegetarian diet sometime 2 months ago and I have lost 18 pounds, and feel better than ever. I have not worked out at all and will start doing my P90X videos soon. i feel great, healthier and energetic being vegetarian. I hope to try vegan but, i still enjoy fish once in a while. The important thing is to not stop what you are doing. Have them watch the Food Inc. movie and read The China Study book by Dr. Campbell. These are fabulous sources that made me change my life around. Glad to help.. Hector from Bakersfield, California..
Craig, I am so sorry to read what you are going through. I think it takes a lot of courage and integrity to make the choices you have and it's awful that your own family (with the exception of your mother) won't support you. Ironic that you are not judging them for how they choose to live, but they are judging you!! My family and friends don't "get" why I don't eat meat, either. My mother calls it "this crazy vegan thing I'm doing," but I'm now visiting her from out of town and she asked what she can get at the store and what meals I would like to have. I made a great lentil soup for my parents and they LOVED it. Your family doesn't have to agree with it or do the same, but you're family. How can they just turn their back on you? Perhaps it made them look harder at what they're doing and you struck a nerve. Or they're just intolerant people and can't stand anyone who thinks differently than they do. Either way, I hope you surround yourself with openminded people who will support you no matter what. You deserve that! Best wishes:)
Craig - sorry to hear about your experience. It's always amazing that family is often the least supportive of our choices in life.
I tell people I have switched to a "healthier, plant based diet". I don't know why, but the term "vegan" seems to bring up images of tree-hugging activists. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but the image seems to scare most meat eaters.
It's taken me a long time to come to terms with the fact that my family are not my friends (for many reasons nothing to do w/ Vegan-ism). I love them and will always be there for them if needed, but I minimize the time I spend with them and their toxic attitudes. Good luck!
Craig: my husband shared something interesting with me a few days ago.
I was getting him up to speed re: Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution show - him having missed the first 2 episodes. He was acting defensive - I asked if I was speaking in a way that was judgemental...and it turns out that he felt that he was letting me down. That when I got excited about food choices - my diet changes - and the results of our american diets - he felt that he was failing me in not making the same diet changes.
I would never have thought that - and told him he was not failing me in any way. Your family may feel that this is an across the board judgement of their lifestyle. Besides that possiblity, have you heard the adages that when we eat meat - we also eat the fear and emotions of the animal that is lodged in the muscle fibers. If the family is eating hunted meat - they might be storing up the fear and all that lends itself to feeling judged.
Hang in there - and thank God (or whatever your version thereof would be) that you have a partner that is making the same choices!