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How I Talked To My Family About Being Vegetarian

Taking on a plant-based diet can raise some tough questions with your family and friends. Here are some tips that can help prepare you for these conversations!

Written by
Tatum Tatch

The average American family consumes 222.2 pounds of meat per year. While meat remains a great source of protein, the environment takes heavy fire with a meat-centered diet. Meat products also release methane through manure management. Not to mention that swapping out half of the animal-based foods with vegetarian alternatives “would reduce U.S. diet-related emissions by 35 percent.” 

By taking on a vegetarian or plant-based diet, you can help the environment. While the data is undeniable, the topic remains controversial. Because most families raise their children with a meat-centered diet, becoming vegetarian while still living under their parents’ roof can be difficult, especially around holidays like Thanksgiving which is quickly approaching.

Additionally, telling your family about your switch can raise some tough questions, especially around the holidays. However, nothing is impossible. I’m gonna walk you through my experience with vegetarianism and let you in on a few tips I’ve accumulated! 

Know Who You’re Talking To

First, you have to know your audience. Talking to your family about becoming vegetarian can be intimidating. But, knowing who you’re talking to can make the process a bit easier. For example, are your family members avid meat-eaters? Are they open to vegetarianism? 

You can find out the answers to these questions both by being observant and by asking questions! I suggest asking questions such as “What is your stance on vegetarianism?” and “Have you ever had any vegetarian friends?” However, these questions may not fit your family dynamic. What is important is just to get the conversation going and make it known to your family that this topic is very important to you. 

Do Your Research 

On the flip side, if you get the conversation going and begin to ask questions, you must be prepared to answer their questions. The biggest piece of advice I have for this is do your research!!! Going into my switch, I knew it was better for the environment. But, I didn’t know any specific facts. 

By doing my research I was able to easily answer some of the questions my family asked me about why I wanted to cut meat out of my diet. One specific moment that knowing my facts helped me was at a family dinner. I was being grilled by my parents after not touching any of the meat dishes. However, by giving professional responses with facts and figures, my elder family members actually took me seriously.

In addition to research, it is important to do some self-reflection. Why do you want to cut meat out of your diet? Once you can answer yourself, you are bound to have better conversations with your family pertaining to your goals and your change of diet that will hopefully eliminate any nutritional concerns they have about your switch as well. 

Find An Ally

Next, I suggest finding a family member or friend you can talk to about your goals. For me, this was my grandma. My grandma has been a vegan for as long as I can remember, so talking to her about my goals and worries I had related to telling my family was easy. However not so many people get this lucky. 

The family member or friend to talk to about your goals should be someone you are close with. By talking to someone you don’t see as a superior, you will feel less threatened and more comfortable talking about your journey. This could be a cousin, sibling, or even a close friend. This person can be someone to bounce ideas off of, talk to when you receive a snarky comment from a relative, or just a person to be there for you when you need them. 

The Importance Of Meal Prep

Additionally, it’s important to prove to your family that your new diet won't be too much of a burden to their time. This means planning out your meals by providing them with a list of ingredients you need, making your meals by yourself, and possibly talking to them about how to balance dinners from here on out. One thing that really helped me was keeping a running notes document of vegetarian recipes and sharing this document with my parents. 

This did two things: it showed them I was serious and committed to the switch as well as helped me stay organized when I needed to cook myself something. Additionally I would tell my parents the few things I would cook for myself for the week when the rest of my family was planning on eating meat. Becoming a vegetarian in a meat-eating house is challenging and may mean you’ll be making yourself a few dinners, but in the end it is completely worth it. 

My Final Tips To Prepare You For The Plant Talk

My final piece of advice is to be patient! Coming from someone who made the switch as a teenager, it can be challenging. It’s always important to remember that while you may be struggling with your switch, your family is trying to adapt to your new lifestyle along with you. Don’t be too hard on yourself or your family. 

Family is important but you are equally as important so don’t let them get to your head! Stay with your goals and your family will accept you. One thing I have learned from my switch is that if you are loving, kind, and open, good things will come back to you. Always put what you wish to receive into the world, and telling your family about your newfound vegetarianism should be a breeze. Good luck, you got this!!