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|How can I do this?
Posted By Lauren Hanes
After years of contemplating the idea, I was finally brave enough to confront my father and tell him that I wanted to try to be vegan. I thought he would understand, or support me, because he, as a way to combat his cancer, has gone vegan twice in the last three years because of the benefits it had on his health. But he shot me down quickly, telling me there was no way I'd get enough nutrients and that I'd be missing certain things and that I should just eat free-range eggs and chicken instead. I've been taking baby steps, four years ago eliminating red meat entirely from my diet, and then three years ago I stopped eating seafood, and for the past year I've been using almond milk in my cereal. But my dad won't let me go vegan. How can I do this without the support of the people who buy the groceries?
Thanks so much for reaching out and congrats on speaking up for yourself. How interesting that your dad has gone vegan himself for health reasons but doesn't want you to do the same. I can't tell from your email how old you are, but if you're a teen, you might want to refer him to the book Help! My Child Stopped Eating Meat! by Carol Adams. That should help take care of a lot of his fears.
Do you know what nutrients he's worried about that you can't get from eggs and chicken? If it's protein or amino acids, refer him to this article by registered dietitian Jack Norris on veganhealth.org that describes the protein content of various plant foods. In fact, that whole website would be good to peruse because there definitely are nutrients to watch out for as a vegan, but they aren't hard to come by on a well-planned diet that's full of a variety of healthy, whole foods, fortified foods, and/or supplements. The American Dietetic Association, which is the largest organization of nutrition professionals in the nation, has done plenty of their own homework on vegan living and has issued a favorable position statement on plant-based diets that goes like this: "appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes." Feel free to share their position paper with him.
My guess is that if you start doing more of your own homework on plant-based nutrition, whether online or in books such as Becoming Vegan (a vegan nutrition staple) or Vegan Living for Dummies (a good basic primer), you'll show your dad that you can take responsibility for yourself, and you can point out important sections to him to get him more on board. Also, if you ask him to buy you specific healthy foods (and vitamins) that you'll want to be eating as a vegan, it'll show him that you know your stuff and you're ready to take care of yourself. Being more involved in the kitchen should have the same effect.
It seems also that going slowly seems to work for him and for you, so maybe continue to phase foods one month at a time so he doesn't suddenly get freaked out by the word "vegan." Gear up on your knowledge about vegetarian living, go vegetarian for a month, then the next month phase out dairy and add more healthy vegan non-dairy foods that give you calcium and protein, then the following month integrate egg replacers such as ground flax seeds with water that have omega-3's (oh, your dad will be so impressed!)
And feel free to check in with more questions and let us know how it goes.
Good luck, Lauren! Go, you! And congrats for getting this far.
Posted By Admin