Sometimes the last people to approve of any new lifestyle or diet change are the people closest to you.
This can be a challenge.
Let’s cover a couple hypothetical scenarios:
- Your family/partner accepts your new diet choice, but won’t join you
- Your family/partner disapproves of your new diet choice and would like you to stop
They Accept Your New Diet but Won’t Join
This is the easiest of the two scenarios. The bottom line here is understanding everybody is at different stages in their life.
Some people think about going plant-based for years and never actually do it. It’s all good, just be mindful that if we want people to respect our choices, we need to do the same.
The strategy to use here, we can call “show and share.”
As you start to eat healthier vegan-friendly foods, why not share these things with your family or partner. Remember, strictly speaking, there’s no such thing as ‘vegan food’. An apple will always be an apple.
Inspire them with the improvements you’ve experienced in health and well-being. In such times, it’s often better not to even mention it, but let it show.
For example, if you went jogging or running before switching diets, and now find your times are better or you can cover greater distances, this would be a great thing to mention.
In terms of health you may also find you’re achieving weight loss, faster recovery from exercise, better sleep, vastly improved blood work, normalizing blood pressure, etc.
As they see you successfully living the lifestyle and find out your diet is tasty, satisfying, diverse and may even be a game-changer for their personal health goals, they’ll be more likely see the changes you’ve made positively.
Don’t be disappointed if they never come around, though. Habits and cultural traditions are hard for many to break.
Remember this is your journey and ultimately, we are all individually responsible for our own choices.
They Disapprove of Your New Diet and Want You to Stop
This scenario will typically occur for three different reasons:
- You’re below the age of 18 and your parent(s) or legal guardian doesn’t want animal foods reduced or excluded from your diet, out of concern for your health and development
- You’re below the age of 18 and your parent(s) or legal guardian doesn’t want to prepare separate meals to suit your new preferences
- Your partner isn’t interested in adopting a new lifestyle or diet and doesn’t envision coping well with your new choices
For some people, making the switch to a plant-based lifestyle and diet under these circumstances won’t be fully seamless.
If this is the case for you, approach it in small steps and simply do the best you can.
Try to avoid being confrontational and defensive about your changes. Instead, be educative and approach the situation with understanding.
Try to find out exactly what their concerns are, have an open dialogue and work things out from there.
Also, instead of announcing anything permanent, share with them that what you’re doing isn’t set in stone; it’s something you want to try just for a while to see how it makes you feel, one day and week at a time.
We have known people that switched to a plant-based lifestyle and never announced it or told anybody. This is an approach worth considering, too!
Addressing the Health Concerns
To best prepare yourself, it’s always smart to learn the ins and outs of meeting nutritional requirements and staying healthy on any diet.
You can then share this knowledge with those who may be concerned about your long-term well-being.
Some of the things you definitely should be ready to answer are how you’ll:
- meet protein requirements
- get enough iron, calcium and B12
- get enough calories
The more you internalize this information, the better you can answer each concern and demonstrate having done your homework. We address these in this VegByte Help Center.
And while plant-based diets are yet to be promoted heavily by the broader medical community, a growing body of physicians are already leading its advocacy as the benefits of such diet are becoming very apparent.
Get Connected with Like-Minded People
Having a social network and sense of community is the make-or-break element to many people’s success at any lifestyle change.
Knowing you’ve got someone to reach out to is crucial, especially if you’re on your own.
Some places to start, include:
- plant-based and vegan-friendly meetup groups and potlucks
- conferences and local events related to plant-based living
- online discussion groups