Discussing transitioning to veganism with Parents?


Jul 9, 2023
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Zagreb, Croatia
  1. Vegan newbie
Now, I am not under their care anymore but I still care of their opinion, and I for sure know they are not going to understand my choice, no matter how much reasoning I have. So I'm pretty nervous about telling my parents about going vegan. I know they will insult me and call it a phase, because they did that even when I told them I'm vegetarian years ago. Being in my twenties, it shouldn't matter but they're family so it hurts me to hear insults from them.

How did you all talk to your parents and what reaction did they have?
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Reactions: Emma JC
There is an old joke that you might like.

Boy: Mom, Dad, I have something to tell you. I'm gay.
Mom: oh, no. How could you?
Dad: This will kill your mother,
Boy: just kidding.
Mom: Thank god
Dad: You really had us going for a second.
Boy: By the way, I'm vegan.

I don't know enough about your situation, but my first reaction is
If you're sure it is going to be upsetting, why not just not mention it.
It's not even like a big secret. What you eat really shouldn't be of much concern to anyone else.
I guess if you have dinner with your parents frequently, it might have to get mentioned. but otherwise I don't think you have to.
I agree with @Lou that it shouldn't matter to anyone else however you do have to deal with family meals and suchlike. Attitude counts for a lot and by that I mean your attitude. If you approach it from a place of kindness and love without any judgment of them then hopefully they will reflect that back to you.

Veganism is about more than just food however that is the most obvious sign and so you can approach it however might be most exceptable to them.


"I am going to focus more on eating in a more healthy, sustainable way by eating more vegetables and fruits and beans, rice, pasta etc. I hope that you will be supportive as I make this change."

"I am going one more step from vegetarianism to veganism, which will hopefully be better for the environment, kinder to animals and better for my health. I hope that you will be supportive."

One thing that is always helpful is if you make some food/meals for them to take part of. If you don't expect them to go out of their way to make something different for you and you supply something tasty, if may make things easier for both you and them.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

Emma JC
Find your vegan soulmate or just a friend. www.spiritualmatchmaking.com
Oh. @Emma JC made some good points.
If you Do eat regularly with your family, a really good strategy is to make the meals at least convenient if not informative/educational.
Like if you bring a side dish, or provide salad or dessert. (or all three).
If you eat out - try to make it a place where you can order a vegan meal.
You might even start sharing vegan recipes with your family.
and as long as it gets taken the right way -vegan presents. vegan Cookbooks or kitchen tools.
I went vegetarian first, and my parents thought I could and should put that whole project aside during Christmas or whenever there was some big family meal. So, it was a painful process of explaining how I had actually forever said farewell to meat, and that it was based on ethical principles, not health reasons, and that no, fish were animals as well. And I would cook my food separately from theirs, and I wanted clean serving spoons, not cross contaminated ones, so I didn't want their fishy/meaty/cow juicy serving spoons, thank you.

Fortunately, there were no insults that I can remember, only a few from my drunkard uncle, and he didn't mean to be unkind (he even said so), just to have a laugh. My mother had always instilled good values about treating animals well, and also put those values into practice with the cats that were part of our family, and other animals that crossed our path. So, in many ways going vegetarian, and later vegan, was just the logical conclusion of that.

I think in some ways I was lucky. While my parents were/are quite old-fashioned and set in their ways, they always tried to be supportive of my various projects. Incredibly, my father even cooked vegan food for me, and found vegan speciality foods when he went grocery shopping. Maybe they also admired my strong convictions, because let's face it, it takes character to go against the grain and be the only one to follow ethical principles. (It also probably helped that I'm an only child, so therefore by default their favourite child! :))
I went vegetarian first, in my early 30s, which was met mostly with curiosity by my family. And they were OK with it. My mother is an excellent cook, so she didn't have too much trouble making things like quiche and omelets and pasta dishes with sauce and cheese. But when I went vegan 16 years ago, her first reaction was, what am I going to cook for you now?

I explained as kindly as I could why I could no longer eat dairy and eggs, and they listened without getting defensive. While they don't share my desire to live as cruelty-free as possible, they do accept it as something that's important to me. I get a few goodnatured jabs from my siblings and cousins sometimes, but they aren't dismissive of my position, which is nice. I made it a point to say that I wouldn't judge them for their choices and that this was more about me and my desire to do a lot less harm in the world.

After getting over the initial shock, my mom has made it a mission to find tasty vegan meals to make when I visit (and she has succeeded!). My family has even taken a few steps toward plant-based eating, such as consuming nondairy milks, butter and veggie burgers a lot of the time. It helps that I have made some dishes/food that they absolutely love. Desserts are big winners as well.