Any older newbies about?

Clareh13

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Hi, I am soon to be 33 and have always been a happy omnivore until a few days ago when I read something that has changed my outlook on meat/animal products completely. I decided on the spot that I would need to go vegan or as close as possible.

I think people are going to be a bit surprised, as most people seem to do this in their teens or at uni! Just wondering if anyone has tips for explaining to friends/family without getting preachy or sounding like I'm judging their choices (which would be seriously hypocritical when they've been my choices too for so long and would still be if it weren't for the complete chance of what I read.)

Thanks!
 

poivron

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Congratulations! I am not new to veganism, but I am older. I was in my mid-twenties when I first tried to go vegan. I tried again at 37, and this time I was able to stick with it. I know someone who was almost sixty when he went vegan. Veganism is not just for younger people; it's for anyone who has a heart and an open mind.

What you will find is that a lot of the people around you are threatened by your veganism. When I went vegan the second time, I thought all my friends would be supportive, and that when they learned what I had learned about factory farms, they, too, would go vegan. In retrospect, I was incredibly naive. Expect a lot of push-back and even outright hostility. There are ways to deal with this, which I wish I had known when I first went vegan. There is a great video on YouTube by Melanie Joy entitled "Understanding Carnism for Effective Vegan Advocacy". It's long, but it's worth watching in its entirety. There are tips in there for how to answer simple questions like "Are you vegan" without having non-vegans feel like you're judging them. (Unfortunately, a simple and straightforward answer like "Yes, I'm vegan" tends to make meat-eaters defensive.)
 
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Clareh13

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" I thought all my friends would be supportive, and that when they learned what I had learned about factory farms, they, too, would go vegan"

See, I'm not expecting that at all! It took something quite specific to prompt me in to this decision, I already knew a lot of the arguments in favour of going vegan but I still hadn't done it, so why would I automatically assume anybody else would? Its a personal choice and I have no expectation that my friends should make the same choice as me.

I realise there will always be people who have a snide comment ready but I'm sure my actual friends won't suddenly hate me after years of close friendship. I'm really looking for answers to the 'why' question that don't basically shut down conversation or come across as a conversion attempt. I have a few meals out planned around Christmas where it will definitely come up because it will be hard/obvious for me to find vegan choices on the menus I expect (Italian place where I'd normally be heavy on the meat and cheese and an Indian restaurant where I assume its hard to avoid dairy).
 

Nicky

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Hi Clare,

I switched a few months ago, and I'm 32, so I was similarly concerned!

My best advice would be to just be honest about why you made the switch - in my experience people who ask really are curious about "why now?". I expected a lot of criticism but I have been quite lucky and most people are understanding - there's been a lot in the news this year about welfare in the dairy industry, and the environmental impact or meat-eating, and a lot of people have responded along the lines of "I'd love to, but steak/cheese".

I had to explain to people in my workplace who would otherwise expect me to eat cakes and other snacks, and to people who I'll be eating with. I'm also conscious of being preachy, and as I'm still unsure of how best to advocate I'm keen not to give people the wrong impression. I usually just say "I don't eat meat and dairy any more", which gives people the option to ask questions if they like. My pescetarian friends are particularly interested, and some of them clearly have a lot of guilt, so I talk to them about what I eat and how easy it is, while also reminding them that I have a lot of catching up to do, since I ate meat for so long.

I was also anxious about going out for meals, and I'd recommend phoning the restaurant in advance to put your mind at ease. Once you're in the restaurant it's sometimes good to approach a member of staff so that they have some options for you when you come to order, as this gives them time to figure out some options with the chef - it's quite awkward to start quizzing waiting staff on ingredients in front of a table of guests.

Trip advisor has added the ability to search for "vegan" within reviews, from the restaurant page, which has been super useful! This is a really quick way to see any issues that others have had.

I think Italian should be OK? Penne arrabiata, salad, olives, bread... Indian food I'm not so sure. I have the (perhaps incorrect) impression that everything is cooked in ghee, but others may have more useful advice on this. The good news is that it's getting so much easier. Stables (a UK pizza chain) and the lounges (nice UK pub chain) each have vegan menus now, and I've rarely failed to get a good meal when I've had the confidence to ask for one.

Anyway that's quite enough from me! Good luck with your friends and family - I hope they're kind and open minded, and I'm sure you'll find lots of lovely things to eat :)
 

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Hi and welcome to the forum. I'm 60 and was vegetarian for most of my life, this year I stopped eating honey which was the last animal product now I can say I am vegan.
 
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windrose

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" I thought all my friends would be supportive, and that when they learned what I had learned about factory farms, they, too, would go vegan"

See, I'm not expecting that at all! It took something quite specific to prompt me in to this decision, I already knew a lot of the arguments in favour of going vegan but I still hadn't done it, so why would I automatically assume anybody else would? Its a personal choice and I have no expectation that my friends should make the same choice as me.

I realise there will always be people who have a snide comment ready but I'm sure my actual friends won't suddenly hate me after years of close friendship. I'm really looking for answers to the 'why' question that don't basically shut down conversation or come across as a conversion attempt. I have a few meals out planned around Christmas where it will definitely come up because it will be hard/obvious for me to find vegan choices on the menus I expect (Italian place where I'd normally be heavy on the meat and cheese and an Indian restaurant where I assume its hard to avoid dairy).


Italian is not too bad, try ordering a pizza with just veg no cheese, grilled veggies, pasta and tomato sauce,mushrooms.
I love Indian and there are a lot of Vegan Indians, ask if they have a selection for "JAINs" very strict vegans.
I found you are usually not asked out to dine with friends as they think you don't eat anything!
 

windrose

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Have you seen the Film Vegeucated? I think that is correct spelling, there are others but l show this one to people who express interest and question me as to ...why?
If l can say , it has certainly thinned out my circle of ..OLD FRIENDS
 
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Clareh13

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I'm not looking to thin my circle of friends, I like my friends and its not based on what they eat!
 

Forest Nymph

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Hey no big deal. I admire people who were strict vegetarian at 11 and fully vegan by 13 in a house of meat eaters, while I just struggled to have some vegetarian meals or vegetarian days in my teens. The first time I tried to go vegan in my early 20s I didn't know how to eat properly and believed all of the stupid things people said about health risks, so I only lasted three months - mostly eating nothing but frozen vegan meals, pinto beans and microwaved tofu (I still can't believe I used to microwave tofu...). I'm not sure I even took a B12 supplement, but my memories of that time were of buying really expensive vegan "products" (therefore believing the veganism-is-expensive myth) and finally breaking down and eating veggie pizza with dairy cheese on it with my ex.

I went from reluctant omni (I didn't like meat as a child and fought with my family over it, the only flesh I really enjoyed was from fish and crustaceans) to a vegetarian and finally to full vegan. Veganism stuck with me the second time for two reasons: 1) intellectually I was much more educated about vegan cooking and nutrition and grocery shopping and 2) I actually experienced a perspective shift philosophically and emotionally that is difficult to explain to non-vegans (and even to some vegans). I think people like me is where "preachy vegan" comes from, because the perspective shift is literally like "what has been seen cannot be unseen." Going back to meat for me would be like going back to a boyfriend whom I found out was a pedophile. It's just something you don't do. Vegetarians and even some vegans get annoyed with this, but it's a real thing that happened to me. I actually wish it had happened at 16 or 20 but it was a process. The fact that it was a process for me to unlearn my "programming" is the main thing that allows me to have patience with omnis.
 
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Clareh13

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I can definitely relate to that 'no going back' feeling Forest Nymph, as soon as I read the part of the book that 'converted' me I knew completely and without doubt that was it, and that meat/eggs/dairy even though I had always loved eating them up to then would never again hold any kind of appeal or enjoyment.

I had a tooth extracted on Friday after 3 days of terrible pain and not being able to eat anything. I went to an M&S afterwards (posh UK food shop!) intending to treat myself to something indulgent and assuming they would have something suitable. Well it turns out that apart from basic fruit and veg their provision for vegans is terrible. I was looking at meat/cheese options I used to love, and realised that I could easily 'cheat' that nobody would know, that I could go right back to my new diet the next day and even that I could probably forgive myself for it due to how crappy I had felt and how much I needed a pick me up. But...no. I was looking at that food and no part of me at all wanted to eat it, it just isn't an option for me any longer. It was a strange realisation but a reassuring one.
 
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Clareh13

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Anyway, I have 8 family members coming to visit today for lunch. My parents already know and have been wonderfully understanding (sort of, they bought me a membership to the vegetarian society which came with a recipe book full of meals containing eggs, butter, cream etc. but that's a misunderstanding not a lack of support!) but I know my elderly grandparents will be fairly dismissive of the idea. There will be non vegan food available that my mum is going to cook and bring so I'm not paying for it or preparing it, but I do hope that some of them will try the vegan stuff like the plant milk and the soy ice cream for dessert!
 

windrose

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You can just explain that you have been doing research about meat dairy and egg industries and don't agree with the ways animals are treated. If they are real friends they will except it. I think a lot of people tend to be older than their teens when they go vegan.i never new what vegan was when I was a teen.
 
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windrose

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One of the things l enjoy most about eating in Vegan establishments is the opportunity to connect with the younger crowds.
I have met many young people in their teens and we are able to communicate because of our common beliefs. Too many youths tend to think of us older persons as the cause and are pleasantly surprised when they find we are helping with the solutions.
 

Forest Nymph

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One of the things l enjoy most about eating in Vegan establishments is the opportunity to connect with the younger crowds.
I have met many young people in their teens and we are able to communicate because of our common beliefs. Too many youths tend to think of us older persons as the cause and are pleasantly surprised when they find we are helping with the solutions.

I agree with this, even though I'm in my 30s, I still consider myself a Millennial (I was part of the Bernie movement, etc and am surrounded by people in their 20s since I'm finishing my degree...a friend who is my age and I were talking about this maybe a month ago, that we're Millennials and not Gen X) ....and I have had a really hard time NOT seeing Baby Boomers as "the problem" ...I feel like as a generation they were the greediest and most wasteful generation of all in terms of using resources, and anything they blame us for, they taught us by example as our parents or grandparents.

However, by starting to volunteer work with environmental groups I was able to meet a lot of people in their 50s through 80s who still cared about the environment, or were some of the "early examples" of veganism back in the 80s, ,and I found that really inspiring, like these people actually stood out from their own generation and lead the way for what we know now about environmentalism and veganism.

Moby is Gen X but he's a great example of this. All profits from his L.A. vegan restaurant Little Pine go directly to animal charities, he doesn't make a dime of profit from it, because he's a minimalist and already made money as a musician.

I do feel like some of my friends who are Gen X, people not that much older than me, in their 40s are pretty apathetic...they say things like "I don't get involved with politics, I like different kinds of people" and inwardly I'm thinking "no you're a morally lazy person who doesn't like to rock the boat so you close your eyes to helping the world." And that's why I consider myself a Millennial, because I am born on the "cusp" ....Millennials are a much more "civic" and involved generation than Gen X as a whole...but there are people of all ages who are doing their best. As much as I can complain about Obama, he was a Gen X president who set aside more protected land than any president since Roosevelt, I think. I don't know, ironically Republicans like Nixon and Reagan set aside environmental benefits in the 1970s - which may come as a shock to modern Trump or Ryan types of conservatives.

I'm always encouraged though when I meet teens who are already vegan or who are seriously involved with environmental innovation. It's really inspiring to see and be around.
 

windrose

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See....we are communicating! The issues are not new as you will discover.
Being a Baby Boomer (1950), l can appreciate what you are saying but you must go back to the previous generation. My parents lived thru the depression and the second world war and truly believed that by showering their children with everything they had been denied in their youth they were making us happy and that they had "paid their dues". Similarly their parents may have emigrated and gone thru other wars and political situations.
As l young lad in school l could never understand the reason for studying history but now l find it fascinating and if you have a social conscience l am certain you will also , given time for reflection.
Do not place too much belief in the politics ...you are.. what we will become. The responsibility is now yours as will the blame be yours later.
I have come to realise change only happens if l choose to make it.
May all have a Happy and Prosperous New Year !
 

Joey71

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Hi, I am soon to be 33 and have always been a happy omnivore until a few days ago when I read something that has changed my outlook on meat/animal products completely. I decided on the spot that I would need to go vegan or as close as possible.

I think people are going to be a bit surprised, as most people seem to do this in their teens or at uni! Just wondering if anyone has tips for explaining to friends/family without getting preachy or sounding like I'm judging their choices (which would be seriously hypocritical when they've been my choices too for so long and would still be if it weren't for the complete chance of what I read.)

Thanks!
Hi Clare, I am 46 and my husband is 53 - we are new vegans and still in the transition stage. We went full vegan during November just to see how it would help us from a diet and lifestyle perspective - I have a bad back and have lost a lot of mobility along with a lot of pain issues, and someone suggested it, as it helped them with their arthritis. We found it quite easy - always easier when the whole family do it, and relaxed a little bit in December over christmas, but we felt really bloated and a bit sick - we did not go back to eating meat, but relaxed a bit on the dairy front. I explained to our family that we had friends who had really altered their lives by reviewing their diet and opting for plant based. the impact that my back has had, has been quite severe, so we were actively looking for anything that could help. We found immediately that my husband stopped snoring - day 1 and generally felt less bloated. When my family saw how good we both felt, they started asking questions about what we were eating etc. So it was quite easy - my mum made a few comments about smug vegans, but that is just the way she is !
 

poivron

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(...) I have had a really hard time NOT seeing Baby Boomers as "the problem" ...I feel like as a generation they were the greediest and most wasteful generation of all in terms of using resources, and anything they blame us for, they taught us by example as our parents or grandparents. (...)

I feel that this is really unfair toward the generation that really changed things. The people you're talking about were, after all, the Hippies. Without them, we would still be living in the horribly uptight, sexist and racist 1950s. Moreover, many of them were children of people who lived through the Great Depression, so they tend to be less wasteful than those who came later, like generation X (my generation). Finally, the Baby Boomers are such a huge group that the variation within the group is much larger than the difference between the generations.
 
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