Talking about your new hippie lifestyle

I’m not a loud vegan. I’m not preachy about it. I don’t judge others’ dietary decisions because I don’t want people to judge mine. I hardly even bring it up, ever, unless someone else does.

Basically, I don’t want to become the subject of that “You know how to spot a vegan at a party?” joke.*

But I wish I were more eloquent in discussing it when people ask questions or try to give me advice.

I enjoyed a recent conversation I had with a dude in my social circle.

Him: “So, why did you do it? Was it the health thing, the ethical thing … ?”

Me: “Kind of a combination.”

Him: “Word.”

Thankfully, I never get any resistance or judginess from the people in my world. A lot of them, rather, have expressed admiration or acknowledge that it’s a cool thing to do, but they just don’t feel they could do it, themselves.

The people I feared receiving the most questioning from were my parents, namely my mother. However, they wonderfully did not question my decision and do whatever they can to accommodate me, even if they make occasional mistakes or make an incorrect assumption. They just need more education, that’s all. They’ve been super awesome.

As I guessed, however, my mom is still the person who worries about me, and does so out loud. She’s a mama bear. She worries about me for five million other reasons than my plant-exclusive diet. This is just another thing for her to worry about.

So I try to tell her that yes, I’m getting enough protein and calcium and vitamins and that I’m getting them all in better forms than I could ever get with meat and dairy. She still worries.

I’m bad at citing awesome facts and studies off-hand. I’m not good at remembering them, so I’m bad at debates and stuff like that because I retain emotional memories and impressions better than I retain hard facts. When my mom asked me why I’m taking vitamin B12 supplements, I had to look it up on the internet to remember specifically why (I was right when I said, “I dunno, something to do with my blood,” just forgot how to eloquently state it).

Anyway. Mom still likes to tell me what I should do, even when I tell her I carefully researched healthy vegan habits long before I made the plunge. She told me I should stop being vegan during pregnancy should I ever get knocked up (which isn’t going to happen – the non-vegan or the knocked up part). She said my baby would need calcium from dairy. She said a friend told her a vegan diet can be bad for you, because, sugar and coconut milk.

Again, she just hasn’t done the research I have. She remembers things people tell her that hit her viscerally or long-held beliefs, even if they were manufactured by dairy lobbyists and marketers instead of based in fact.

So I try to tell her things that will hit her emotionally, without being crude, in the hopes that something will hit home for her.

I know she empathizes with a lot of my reasons for being vegan. My mom loves animals and can’t stand any thought of cruelty being imposed on them. She has even mentioned thoughts of going vegetarian. She, too, probably thinks it’s too hard. (It’s so not.)

I told her I would send her a bunch of things to read, if only I thought she would read them. She said she might read some things I send her.


So I sent her an email right after I hung up with her, picking out articles that were easy to read and would hopefully communicate a strong message in plain English (not copies of peer-reviewed medical journal studies).

This is what I sent:

Vegan success stories:

It would mean a lot to me if you read some of these. Thanks, Mom! Love you!

She hasn’t read anything yet, to my knowledge, but I hope she does.

It’s hard to challenge Western diet gospel. But I cook vegan snacks and desserts for my family so I can show them I eat just fine and I always thank them when they make accommodations for me, so they know that their efforts mean a lot to me.

I don’t expect them to change, and that’s not my aim. I just want them to know I’m OK. I’m awesome.

*Answer: “Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.” HAR HAR HAR.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. livibetter
    Dec 30, 2013 @ 18:58:47

    Tell her milk cows are vegans. If she still worries, then tell her you will chew grass when you gets knocked up. It may sound funny, but the point is eating right, then it’s fine. This also plants another thing in her mind, cow has to get pregnant first for the milk, just like human.

    I don’t really like shock education, such as bringing someone to slaughterhouse. I think that’s not a good way to educate people.

    But, as last resort, if you ever need that, ask anyone who is questioning: how a cow gets pregnant and how often? what happen to the baby calf after delivery? girl? and boy?

    That was me almost three years ago when I finally realized cattle and any mammals are just like human. I know what is needed for female human to produce milk, just never made the connection until I watched an animation about milk cow and their babies.

    I switched to vegan from lacto-vegetarian the day I watched that clip.


  2. mrsnikkiv
    Dec 31, 2013 @ 09:10:37

    For many years my sister was the only vegan in our family until one day I realized that she was way healthier than me and was probably doing something right. I finally opened up and asked questions. Once I was educated – there was no turning back! Now our other sister and our parents are vegan as well! It’s good to have people to share the lifestyle with because it is one with a lot of emotions and values attached to it. I hope you have some vegan friends! Otherwise – there’s always the blog community.

    I’m not great at quoting statistics either. My youngest sister is amazing at it, but she has been vegan for many years now and even interned at Farm Sanctuary, so of course she’s better at it. I try not to be preachy and don’t usually offer information unless people strike up a conversation with me about it. If it comes up, I just stick to the connection between cow’s milk and veal as well as what happens to male baby chicks. Although, I tend to get people coming to me to defend their dietary choices as if my choice to be vegan was a personal attack on them. When I’m pretty sure that’s what’s happening, I just remove myself from the situation quickly. Luckily – it’s mostly been on Facebook, so I can just unfriend the super disrespectful people.


  3. journeytochewon
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 09:45:13

    Like you, I don’t remember all the facts, nor do I want to get into discussions about how I eat. One of the things I am working on, as a reply to “why don’t you eat meat or dairy?” (or whatever) is simply this: “I feel better when I eat this way.” Nice and simple. No info needed. If you haven’t tried that line, you may find it helpful. I have been a wanna-be-vegan for almost 4 years. 2013 was the year where I stuck to not eating meat probably 90% of the year, although after a trip to the East Coast, I started eating seafood. My aim is to be as close to all plant-based as I can, and eat mostly raw, with a low-fat focus.


  4. Lynsi
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 13:05:36

    I love hearing how other vegans discuss their choices with others! Thank you! I think it’s important that we not be assholes and that we’re responsible ambassadors of our lifestyle. Others will notice awesomeness when they see it.


  5. amy
    Jan 13, 2014 @ 11:10:13

    We don’t agree on all topics, but I think anyone who pays attention has come to the realization that the USDA and its food pyramid are total crap. Different people take different approaches (and can do so with some of the same studies and science), but the important thing is paying attention!


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