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Let me start off by saying that "disappointed in my daughter" are words rarely uttered by me. I've been nothing but proud of her over the years, and I love her more than life itself. But there's one glaring issue that has disappointed me more than anything I could've imagined--she used to be vegan but no longer is.
In 1988 when I announced to her and my husband that I could no longer participate in the cruelty to animals that is the meat industry, she embraced vegetarianism [and then veganism]. In high school she was interviewed for the school paper and spoke eloquently about why she was vegetarian. When she went off to college she lived in a vegan co-op. So she GOT it. Really got the heinous abuse of animals in factory farming, slaughterhouses, etc.
But somewhere along the line she went back to eating meat. She decided that she "loved BBQ" so much she just had to eat it when with a group of friends, and that was that. I saw photos she took this Thanksgiving of "the bird," and all I could do was recoil in disgust at seeing the plucked carcass of a once beautiful turkey.
I simply don't understand how she could go from knowing the facts about animal abuse in the meat industry to participating in it again. When we used to eat meat we didn't know any better! But now she does. How does one just ignore the facts--especially when those facts used to disgust her? I could no sooner eat the flesh of a non-human animal again than I could a human animal. I just don't get why it's not the same for her...and it's extremely disappointing for me.
Believe it or not I really haven't spoken much about this with her. It's such a big deal to me that I tend to get very emotional, and I don't want to get ugly with her. So I've basically just accepted it. (Note that she and her husband are very mindful of my veggie lifestyle and only cook veggie dishes when I'm around.)
Okay, end of rant...
Hi S.A.P. I can only imagine that it is painful to see these choices that your daughter is making right now. Has anything else in her life changed that might explain why she is giving up something that she once held dear and that is obviously an important part of your family's ethics?
I know it must be difficult not to condemn her choices, but if you decide to talk to her about it, maybe you could just make statements about yourself in order to hopefully get her to think about what she is doing. For example:
"Honey, it hurts me so much to see you compromising beliefs that I once thought were very important to you, can you help me to understand where you are coming from"
"Honey, its very difficult for me to accept your choices when they cause others to suffer. Can you please help me to understand your rationale?"
I think that many of us here have struggled with how to deal with family members whom we love with all of our hearts but who continue to support a violent ideology despite recognizing that dietary alternatives exist. So, although I have little advice to offer, I can assure you that you are not alone. Does your daughter have siblings who might be able to offer some more insight into her recent change of heart and diet?
Thanks, Beary, for the very thoughtful reply.
My daughter is an only child, so there are no siblings in the picture.
This is kind of hard to express in words [that make sense!], but I'll try. I kind of feel that my daughter, although once SEEMINGLY committed to and understanding the cruelty-free lifestyle, was really just doing it for me--despite the fact that when I announced my decision to go veg, I made clear--and I WAS sincere about this--that neither she nor my husband should feel obligated to follow suit. (I don't know what I would've done if they hadn't, because from that day forward I truly didn't want dead animal products in the house!) I'm thinking that she wanted to please me, and once she learned the facts about the meat industry it was easy to say, yeah, me too!
That makes a certain amount of sense, until you consider college. She didn't have to stick with it after she went away to college, but SHE researched living arrangements specifically to find a vegan choice. So if it wasn't a sincere concern on her part, why keep it up with Mom far away?!
I really like the suggestions you gave for talking with her about this, and next time she's here I'll see if I can't give it a whirl. As noted before, it's a VERY emotional topic for me, and I'm extremely passionate about it, so getting carried away is definitely a concern. The last thing I want to do is alienate her or make her feel guilty...but it's hard for me to understand why she doesn't already feel guilty for what she's doing.
Hi:) I think it is wonderful that you gave her that foundation and amazing that she supported you, even if it was more to please you. I think in time she will go back to it.
This is extremely disheartening I can see. I think the phrasing of Beary's questions are perfect. I can understand your disappointment. As an ethical vegan it seems outrageous to me as well that your daughter would go back, especially when she was also vegan for ethical reasons. I could not even fathom going back to eating meat or dairy products. I really do think that you should discuss the situation with your daughter though so that it does not cause a divide between you (even just a little one). I know how easy it is to get worked up about this all because it is such a big part of who you are as a person. I think a lot of people don't understand how being vegan becomes a part of you, a part of your soul, and that it is not just a choice after you face all of the suffering. I absolutely agree with you that your daughter would have probably gone back in college if she was just doing it for you, as being vegan in college can be difficult. Something else must have happened and I think you will feel better once you hear it from her. Good luck.
It just doesn't sound so crazy to me - her going in this direction. I see it a lot with things - a good example is religion. A lot of people who are brought up in a certain religion participate fully while growing up - be altar boys, CCD, go to church, whatnot. They go to college and often continue - college is scary! Its away from home and that link to the religion they grew up in is a comfort, so maybe they still are involved in a campus religious group or church. And then they go off into the world and start their own independent lives, and so often they drop religion. They marry or not, have a family or not, and sometimes not only don't have anything to do with the religion of their youth but speak against it. And then they get older. And suddenly, they stop by church one week, or explore a new religion etc.....
I'm just using religion as an example, and it seems to fit because it appears animal rights may have been the predominant religion, so to speak, in your home. And maybe your daughter - not even realizing it - is stepping outside of this doctrine of her youth to assert her independence. She has her own family now, her own life. So she is experimenting with her own beliefs - not ones that were given to her at a young age, but ones she is choosing (or choosing NOT to choose) as an adult.
I see no reason why you shouldn't sit down and ask your daughter why she decided to give up veganism, if you can do it in a non-confrontational, non-disappointed way. Maybe she doesn't even know why. But not judging or being disappointed in her to her face would, I think, foster an environment where if she did know she could tell you and for her possibly at some point to choose to go back. If you went about it wrongly, I would think it might leave her in a position of feeling she has to defend her choice by sticking to it - no matter what.
I so understand your disappointment. We want so many good things for our kids. And I really applaud you for raising her with the knowledge that allows her to make the right choices.
I think sometimes when we're young and in an important relationship with someone that is a meateater, it confuses the issue. We so want to please everyone. I compare this to my daughter starting to smoke when her boyfriend did. But I guess we have to love them enough to allow them to make their own choices, even if we dont' like them, so we don't risk alientating them.
She has supported you in your beliefs for years (and still does), and even though her choice is hard to understand, I think the best response is one of compassion. It took me 40 years to finally figure out who I was, and I did alot of things that I look back at and scratch my head over..... but that brought me to the place I am today.
My bet is she will one day come back to veganism, because once that understanding is inside you, it doesn't go away. Hold on to that hope!!
Ann ann, I am glad you brought up religion since that is the first thing that popped into my mind, only as an example of some of the phases we go through as young people. It is always a phase. As young people, we must go through periods in life of "trying on" different hats, different interests, different priorities. If the first foundation was a positive one, I believe that is where we return. I was raised in a very non-traditional family rich in esoteric spiritual beliefs. We were not churchgoers, but rather "seekers". As I listened to those I loved talk about amazing concepts, I KNEW them to be true, as they made sense to me. Anyway, my point: Going through college and being impressed by the lifestyles and beliefs of wonderful friends, I opened my mind to alternative beliefs, what most of you will call, "traditional" organized religion. I went to church after church as a guest, (my parents never judged me as I worked this out on my own) and even got baptized at the age of 36 into a non-denominational christian church. I was a member of the church for about a year and a half, and then one day, one sermon pushed me over the edge. I had felt rumblings about being uncomfortable in the church because of it's judgementalism, and that last sermon made it all very clear to me. I was judging these wonderful church folks for judging others! The one christian belief I have always held is "judge not" lest ye be judged". I abruptly left the church and am back where I am comfortable, seeking on my own, with an open mind and heart -- back to the faith of my childhood. This is just an example of what naturally happens to young adults. I believe your daughter needs to choose her path on her own, SAP. You have already given her a wonderful foundation. Any pushing from you may delay her inevitable return to her foundation. Good luck. It'll be okay.
Wow, thank you all for the great replies.
Unlike being born into a particular religion/belief and being raised in it, my daughter was older when I decided to go veg for ethical reasons. So she grew up eating meat, wearing leather, using products that contained animal ingredients and/or were tested on animals, etc. It was only after I became educated about the meat industry, vivisection, etc., that I decided to change, and it was at that point that she followed suit. So it was a conscious decision on her part, based on our newly found awareness of what happens to animals in various industries.
When she was in high school, she came home one day and said that at lunch her friends were eating burgers, and they looked and smelled so good that she took a bite of one--and nearly threw up because it so repulsed her. I think about that and try to reconcile it with her now cooking/eating dead animals...and I just don't get it.
I don't know when I'll see her again in person, and I'm not sure this is a discussion I want to have with her via e-mail or phone, but when she is here next time I'm going to do my best to discuss this with her. (They're living in another state, and because of ongoing illness [I had a brain tumor removed and there have been many complications] I don't travel.)
I'm actually kind of afraid of hearing her explanation! I dread hearing something like I've heard from other people over the years: Oh, it's not THAT bad [the meat industry]; I LOVE chicken!; everybody eats meat; I can't live without leather shoes; etc. I guess we'll see!
S.A.P............take a deep breath...........take care of you.........you've been through an awful lot and you need your energy for your own healing.....