I've also had somewhat of a similar issue. I live in Omaha, Nebraska, which isn't exactly veggie loving. I am 37, my parents live in SC, and when I told mom I am now a vegetarian (gave up poultry and fish about a month ago), she sent me a preachy email about how not to change my eating habits, and we need to eat meat and fish because we are carnivors. She also thinks it is a kick, or I am part of a cult. I am 37, haven't lived at home since I was 18, and haven't eaten pork or beef since my 20's. I did the research, have gone days in the past w/o animal flesh, etc... Fortunately, my sister gives me full support and thinks it is great. She doesn't eat meat or eat much dairy anyway. I also have a co-worker who is a vegetarian who is supoprtive. Also, as mentioned above, forums like this help. Can't wait to announce it when I finally give up dairy and eggs.....
Good luck Nicole!!! While my family hasn't verbally objected to my eating choices, I know they raise their eyebrows and probably talk about me when I'm not there. Which, I'm not sure which is better. I also am pretty sure they just don't get it. Why would someone give up all meat and dairy???? That's their thinking. I have yet to "announce" anything, but am just eating how I choose to eat and figure over time they'll catch on. Or if they ask, I might say something. I did tell my grandma, b/c she asked me directly, if I'm on some special diet now (she knows I'm not drinking milk anymore, or eating fish...both of which I used to do just a month or so ago before going vegan). I told her I'm following a more plant-based diet, etc. She didn't really respond, so that leads me to believe she didn't really understand. She asked if I was starving myself though. Lol, I told her No, I wasn't starving!
Hang in there! I'm proud of being Vegan! And it shows whenever I bring out my homemade lunch and everyone looks at what I have and ooohh, and awwws. They see that I physically look healthy, am happy and they suddenly want what I have for lunch instead of their greasy hamburger that leaves them feeling bloated, etc. So, be proud of what you're choosing to eat, not just because it saves animals, but because it's nourishing your soul and body in a way that's life changing! People will catch on after they see you're confident in your decision! I wouldn't eat meat now if someone paid me to! =)
Amanda, it does get easier. Once people realize it is not a fad they will get bored and move on. I've been a vegetarian for almost 20 years and in the beginning once my family realized it really doesn't have any impact on their lives at all they are fine with it, and really by me sticking to my guns over the years most people in my family eat less meat because of being around me. Sometimes I do still run into people that will try and trick me. A family member made me spaghetti sauce and said it had no meat, the next day I was SO sick. I was like, that had meat in it and they said, I simmered a pork bone in it all day, but I took it out before I gave it to you. Once they learned how sick I was they learned their lesson :) Good Luck, this website really helps!! I'm gonna try and go vegan, but I'm finding it hard, but I find all the great people on here really inspiring!!!
Amanda I think it is hard if you don't have the support. I don't really tell people that I have gone vegetarian (not vegan yet) unless it comes up. Just today, at work, someone asked me if I'm doing it for health reasons. I told her first it is for the way they treat the animals and now I feel so good it is for my health. When people ask I also point out about the hormones that they give the animals and that they are ingesting them also. For years I kept hearing about and seeing videos about the animals but until about 3 months ago did I finally wake up and give up the meat. I don't think people really think about it unless it is discussed. I am lucky that my boyfriend supports me and he still eats meat. He loves all animals so I think he knows where I am coming from. Maybe he too will give it up someday. The meat wasn't hard for me but I am still stuck on the cheese. I have yet to try some vegan cheese and see what happens. As far as restaurants a lot of the better ones are very accommodating if you ask them to prepare a certain dish the way you want. Like someone else said you can always eat salad and a side of veggies and bread. Good luck. This site is really amazing and I plan on getting my support here.
Amanda-I live in Baton Rouge Mon thru Thurs and New Orleans Thurs through Mon. I can give you one ray of light.... Though I can't offer advice regarding your family... i TOTALLY can about your city! I think New Orleans is one of the GREATEST CITIES ON EARTH TO BE VEGAN IN!!! I cannot wait to get to Nola each week. Not only can eat delicious 100% vegan, but I get to be a LAZY vegan! Everything delivers!! I live in the quarter and can say that Sukho Thai is PHENOMENAL and they deliver, Bamboo Garden is 100% vegetarian and delighted to sub anything to make every dish vegan (they also deliver), Juan's flying burrito has several great vegan options, Angeli will be happy to make a vegan pizza (with the exception of yeast in the dough, but I did not banish yeast from my diet, so I don't mind). This past weekend was my Birthday and I couldn't wait to get to Nola to start celebrating with not only the BEST FOOD IN THE WORD, but the best vegan food too!!
(continued) I started at Stella! Thursday night and had 4 vegan courses that Chef Boswell was happy to make (keep in mind I ALWAYS call ahead and make a reservation and ask if they can accommodate a vegan member to the party-- they have NEVER said NO!! But, prior notice is paramount to show respect for the chef's talent and you getting a great meal). For lunch the next day 10 of us went to lunch at Bayona and Chef Spicer blew me away with my vegan courses and dessert! (Which wasn't the first time), Dinner that night was at Santa Fe-- a very causal and delicious mexican restaurant. Saturday we went to Lilette for lunch and La Petite Grocery for dinner and it was AMAZING!! The restaurant "MiLa" (Mississippi/Alabama) is a husband and wife Chef team that are so PRO-vegatarian that they host a 5 course vegetarian wine dinner and pairing menu. They are delighted to convert all 5 courses into vegan for you. THEY ARE AMAZING!!!! They also buy all of their veggies from local farmers and the veggies deicide the menu-- not the other way around. I can go on and on about amazing vegan options all over the city. So, I beg of you to try to erase the notion that Nola isn't vegan friendly. We have the most amazing chef's in the world and so many of them LOVE the challenge of getting to work their magic on less traditional nutrients. BEST OF LUCK!!