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Young Vegetarians - How to Convince Your Parents You're OK
also known as: "No, mom, I'm not anemic"
I was there. Sixteen-years-old trying to convince my mother that I could quit eating meat and not fall to pieces. It is a hard road to convince your omnivore family that you can be a healthy herbivore. Based on my own experience and findings, here's the best ways to convince reluctant family who may not get this very important life change.
1. Explain your decision calmly and assuredly
If you want to make your point, do it maturely. Know enough about vegetarianism to make valid and truthful points about how healthy a vegetarian diet can be. Show that you are aware of any possible dangers and know how to avoid any nutritional pitfalls.
Be aware that if your parents are being stubborn, it is most likely because they love you and do not want to see anything bad happen to you. Or perhaps they just have had no real experience with vegetarianism and need to be properly (and patiently) informed.
2. Be dedicated yet accommodating
You need to hold to your principles. If animal cruelty is part of the reason why you've decided to become a vegetarian, remember that you are doing good by taking no part in the meat industry. Do not be influenced or pressured into quitting vegetarianism or no one will take you seriously when you use the word around them.
That said, if you're a dependent teenager, you need to be a bit accommodating of your family and their usual habits. Before your mother or father go to the grocery store, make a list of "affordable" vegetarian items that you want. Better yet, shop WITH your parent and help them out in the process. Remember that your new dietary habits may be putting their already-busy lives even more out of whack, so help in whatever way you can to make your new needs less inconvenient to them.
3. Make an effort to get your proper nutrition
My mother's biggest struggles with me was always over whether I was losing out on essential nutrition. You can get 99% of what you need nutrient-wise from a non-meat diet. There are certain proteins that cannot be found outside of meats and all you need is to take an amino acid supplement to cover that. Otherwise, do not... DO NOT... just live off of cheese sandwiches and think you'll be okay. If you aren't much of a fruit and veggie eater now, you need to start getting adventurous. The good news is that if you eat according to a certain diet for a length of time, your taste buds will grow accustomed to most of what you eat. So most things you think you hate the taste of, you may grow an affinity for over time.
For instance, I was never a fan of beans. I realized after some horrible dietary habits in my first months of vegetarianism that I need to develop a taste for beans if I wanted a cheap, reliable source of protein. Now I love just about every type of bean there is out there because I now have a taste for them. Remember to love your dark green vegetables, take at the very least a multivitamin, and eat a variety of types of protein (I have a hubpage on good vegetarian forms of protein is upcoming).
4. Use the words of adult vegetarians
Let's face it, to your parents you will always be that little child that they raised. It may be hard for them to take your argument seriously. When in doubt, go with an expert. There are more than enough blogs written by vegetarians who are nutritionists. Heck, you can find professional athletes and bodybuilders who are vegetarians and vegans, all at the peak of physical health. The words of a 20+ year vegetarian who is obviously an expert on what they eat may help make the point for you if you and your parents get into a debate about your eating habits.
5. Be willing to get "checked over" if you are asked to.
If need be, go to your doctor, let them check you out, and do some blood tests. The proof is in writing there that you are healthy. Sorry if you don't like needles, but this may be the fastest and best way to prove to your folks that you can be healthy while living a vegetarian lifestyle. It doesn't hurt to talk to your doctor before any major life changes anyway. Also, I'd suggest you maintain an active lifestyle while you're conscious of your diet. If you get more endurance and strength overall, then your parents will be less suspicious about your well-being.
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And that's it! If you'd like any other vegetarian or vegan related hubs, let me know in comments! I've been a vegetarian (and sometimes-vegan) for 13 years now, so I'd love to share experiences and wisdom with those of you just starting out and may feel that you're all by your lonesome!