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I have been about 80% vegan, and 95% vegetarian for the past six months. Giving up meat, eggs, and dairy in my day to day life was relatively easy for me, since I never really liked meat to begin with, and I found my dairy cravings went away after a couple weeks of eliminating it from my diet.
The only problem is, I am quite literally the only person in my immediate circle who has ever even considered veganism. I live in a small town in Ontario, where it's just not a common thing. My husband is super supportive, but I'm having a problem "coming out" as a vegan to my friends and family. My parents don't take me seriously at all, and continue serving me their food when I go over to their place which I would feel horrible refusing. They had never even heard the word "vegan" before I brought it up.
And how am I supposed to tell my girlfriends that I can't go to our favorite place for brunch anymore because there are no vegan options? Or am I just supposed to go with them and only drink black coffee? I know it sounds immature and superficial, but I'm so scared to tell them. Because so much of my social life seems to revolve around food, I fear becoming isolated from everyone I love.
Animal rights and sustainability are so important to me - not to mention my own health, but so are these relationships!!! Has anyone else run into this situation? If so, do you have any advice or me???
Hollie, I faced a similar problem.... I would have a mini-panic attack whenever I had plans to go out with my friends or boyfriend. So much of the social time was over dinner! being new to veg/vegan way of life, I just didn't go out or met up with them after dinner to aviod the whole situation..... wrong move! Girlfriends thought I was "mad at them" or "something was wrong" (as girls do!) and my boyfriend thought I had an eating disorder! He still thinks I eat "wierd" and occasionally asks "when is this over?" LOL
I was fortunate to stumble upon the Kind Life book and this website..... I got great advice and support (as Danielle is giving to you) and it makes a world of difference. I learned that referring to my food choices as a plant-based whole food diet causes less of a stir than saying I'm a vegan, that checking on-line menus and calling chefs takes away a lot of anxiety and 99% of the time gets me a meal that the rest of the table wish they had, and that learning to laugh off the negative comments because in your head you know "I'm healthier and kinder to the planet and to myself than you are."
The Kind Life has really helped and made my trasition so much easier.... ask questions and seek out the advice of those here. I have only been a veg/vegan for about 3 months (like you...still transitioning..some things are easier than others to do without!) but I know it is the best thing I have ever done for myself.....and I still have a pretty good social life! You will too!
All good things!
I like to make a game out of finding a vegan option at every restaurant I go to. There is always something (veggies, beans, wraps with out meat or cheese, etc.) that you can compile into a complete meal. I encourage you to not be afraid of going out with your friends, but embrace it as a new opportunity. You don't even have to tell your friends that you are vegan; they will begin to figure it out the more you hang out together and you confidently order vegan items.
There is a section in TKD that talks about this too that you might consider rereading. Good luck!
I'm so glad I came across this post! I'm about a month in my vegan lifestyle. I can SO relate to you, Hollie!! I haven't eaten meat for years, so that's no big shock to my family and friends. But I also have yet to "announce" that I'm vegan b/c I'm fairly certain people will think I'm more crazy than they already do. ;-) I'm already the one in my family and among my friends who's the most concerned with being "green," the environment, animals, etc. I agree that the "vegan" word scares a lot of people away, which is why I loved Susan's suggestion to simply say "I'm eating a more plant-based and whole food diet." So far when people offer me foods I no longer want to eat (but ate in the past) I just politely say no thank you, and don't go into the why of it. I'm already nervous about up-coming family get-togethers and holidays. Meat is easy to avoid, but throw in the milk, eggs, and sugar - that about eliminates all the typical foods my family makes!
I spend Fri. and Sat. nights with my grandma, bringing her dinner (she's 95 and doesn't get out unless assisted). I used to pick up dinner for myself at the same place I got hers. But the past few weeks I've been eating at home before going to her house. It's just easier than trying to prepare my food there. But I also think she's wondered about if I have an eating disorder, like Susan said with her bf. Lol.
So far I haven't really told anyone, or talked with people about my new lifestyle and food choices. I figure I'll just answer any questions anyone asks, as they come, and just eat what I feel comfortable eating.
I first started doing this about 20 years ago, and due to health reasons had even more restrictions than just not eating meat/dairy - it was not until then that I realized how much of our social life revolves around food! At that time I also stopped drinking for about 6 years (no sugar!!!)nd since january and realized that drinking is the second big social hub! A bar is easy, you can have a club soda and no one even notices unless you call attention to it. Brunch, dinner etc....much harder. I think over time you will just develop such a comfort with this - it will be become not what you do but who you ARE - that you won't feel uncomfortable. I used to bring peanut butter sandwiches with me to group dinners, excuse myself and go into the bathroom or outside and quick eat them and then come back in and pretend to be eating "normal" - that was in my early 20s, no WAY would I do that now! I live in a city so its easy to make sure we all meet at a vegan place, and when I was dating it was always something I would state beforehand and the guys would research to come up with lists of places (very cute! - and a good way to weed out assholes....anyone who dismissed how I ate I dismissed!). At this point with all my friends its just who I am and they don't even notice - again, in a more "metropolitan" area so many of us have different eating habits so its not as big a deal. But my advice is to own it. Take the great suggestion of calling the brunch place and talk to them about what they could do for you - a great salad, a fruit plate, advocado and hummus and grilled veggies etc.....I"m sure they will help you out. And I too agree with "a plant based diet" if you think people are resistant - no one seems to take that as an attack, while "vegan" can call to mind images of people splashing paint on fur coats and your friends may think this means you disapprove of them and their choices and so react more strongly.
Thank you everyone for your supportive comments!
I can't believe it never occurred to me to call restaurants and ask for options before...will definitely do so from now on!
I also love the idea of using the term plant-based diet instead of vegan, which unfairly carries a negative stigma for a lot of people.
I totally agree with Danielle, the other day, I went out with some girlfriends ( not one is vegan) and i called ahead and the chef was delighted to prepare a meal for me. The sous chef actually greeted our table and told me what he was making for me, and 3 of my friends were so intrigued that they ordered the vegan meal as well!! And they're not even vegan!
It was so yummy and we had a great time!
I tend to find that when i dont stress about my friends and just get sooo excited about the healthy things im eating... its contagious and they want what i have.
I know it can be tough...but people are coming around! There are sooo many documentaries out there that are exposing the food industry that people are realizing a vegan diet being a very kind, very healthy thing...
hope this helps.
Why don't you have your girlfriends over to your place for brunch sometimes? I usually take my step-mom out for brunch on mothers day, but this year since I've been vegan I've decided to just have her over for a mimosa brunch at my house! I'm making tofu florentine with home fries, and banana walnut pancakes on the side. I'm actually more excited to do this than go out to be honest.
I've had the same issue. I mean, my Dad likes to hunt for god sakes:( I agree with you guys that the plant-based diet term helps a lot. I try to ease my friends in family into my ethical dilema with, "This type of diet is what makes me look and feel my best." If they truly are your friends, who wouldn't want that happiness for you?
Also, I think Sarah M. hit the nail on the head- cook for them! My parents were skeptical of my "fake food" but once I made them some of Alicia's appetizers and desserts they were sold. I also like to bake for my kids at school (I teach) and offer them food first without telling them anything about it. When they exclaim "God this is so good" I then tell them it was made without any animal products. I find that its a nice transition into sharing my lifestyle with them. So many people think that if its healthy, it must be tasteless and boy do I love proving them wrong!
The Internet is your best friend. I study menus ahead and select things that can be made "vegan" fairly easily. This weekend we had a brunch and everything was cheesy or egg-ey. I went to the omelette bar and ordered all the veggies sauteed (in oil) with no egg and then asked the waiter for a tortilla and made a veggie wrap - yummy! Sometimes I don't get all my meal ingredients (whole grains, veggies and protein), but I make up for it in the next meal. I always carry a protein bar (I order them from youbars.com with soy protein) and that way I have something in case there isn't alot to eat at the restaurant. My friends have all asked about it and I explain briefly that I don't want to contribute to the horrible treatment of animals in the meat/dairy industry and let them ask questions if they want to know more. It hasn't stopped me from going out to eat at all (disclaimer - I am also only about 98% vegan - if the only thing to eat has a bit of butter or some cheese sprinkled on it, i eat it and go on with my day)