Friday, June 28, 2013

Vegan Acceptance in an Omnivorous Family

A couple of weekends ago, I came down to visit my family for a few events. We drove in a on Saturday morning, and are beginning to like that better instead of driving in late on Friday nights. Once I arrived to my parents' house, mom urged me to eat some vegan brownies she had made for me. A year ago, I would have fallen over and been completely taken by surprise. Now, it's almost a normal thing!

I've now been vegan over a year and half, and while it felt slow and almost torturous in the first few weeks, I wouldn't change it for a thing. My health greatly improved, my husband and I are now feeling better, and I've really been surprised by all of the changes physically, emotionally, and mentally. I now see myself in a new light and have grown more confident in who I am as a person.

When I first went vegan, I didn't tell hardly anyone. I was met with tons of skepticism and negativity. People didn't understand why I was doing this, and I actually lost many friends over this. When people started giving me hell, I just didn't want to put up with it! I recently told this to a newly-converted vegan that I know: when you go vegan, it's like you're holding up a mirror to the other people around you. You are not doing this on purpose, but many people begin to reflect on how their eat and live and sometimes that causes some reactions projected toward you. Don't let this bring you down!

I didn't visit my hometown for nearly three months after deciding to go vegan. After seeing the reactions I was getting, I didn't want to face anyone who would make negative comments about what I was doing. I finally did visit on Mother's Day 2012, and was surrounded by all of the foods I was no longer eating, including fried chicken, pea salad (with mayo, eggs, and cheese), twice-baked potatoes (with bacon, butter, sour cream, and cheese)... you get the picture! I made a vegan tofu and spinach quiche that no one ate.

Since then, I've seen a pretty big change in my family and they are more accommodating than ever before. I received vegan cookbooks for the last Christmas, mom makes vegan treats when there's a party so I can also enjoy them, and instead of dismissing where I can eat in our small town, they now naturally choose places where I have a few options. It's been great to have that support, and now it's a no-brainer when we visit. I actually have omnivore family members request certain vegan dishes and treats, so that always makes me feel like I've made progress.

I'm sure as the years go by, it will be even easier. So to all of those out there who are struggling with people accepting your new lifestyle, fear not. Eventually, whether that be weeks, months, or years, your family and friends will accept this with open arms. It won't be easy in the beginning, but you need to focus on why you are making this change, and that your health is far more important than what anyone else thinks of you or what you're doing!

Kelsey is a passionate vegan living in Houston, Texas, spreading the word about the benefits of eating a healthy, plant-based diet. She's also a minimalist enthusiast, a self-proclaimed financial guru of her household, and founder of The Little Red Journal.

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