Thursday, 09 June 2011 11:52

How to Become a Vegetarian/Vegan Despite Criticism

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For some people going veg is easy - it can happen overnight (like it did for me) or it occurs slowly over time with the support of friends and family. But for many, this diet and lifestyle choice can be very difficult to adapt due to criticism from others - and many give it up as a result. This is especially challenging for youth, who are still discovering who they are and relying on input from others to help them figure it out.

Yesterday I received an email from a Jessica of Tree Kisser asking her vegan friends to send a letter of encouragement to an 8th grader who is trying to go veg despite receiving lots of anger and mocking from her parents. She's a potential budding activist, but definitely at risk of turning back due to all the pressure around her. This is so sad and frustrating, but certainly not uncommon. Even after 8 years of being an educated vegan I have to defend myself on a regular basis, but I've developed the confidence it takes to stay strong despite this.

I reached out to my social media community and asked them to share some brief inspiration and advice for this budding veggie and here's what they had to say.


  • Smile when someone criticizes you and say your health is worth it. I wish I was that smart in 8th grade (Tawnie H Nguyen)
  • I would ask your parents (in a nondefensive way), "What information would help you be more comfortable with my choices?" A lot of times those neg reactions come from fear. Know that there are people all over the world who agree with and support you! (Jessica Albarran)
  • Read the book "The Geeks Shall Inherit The Earth", it celebrates being different! (Colleen Kochanowicz)
  • Take the parents to see Forks over Knives!‎...and let the research and the movie do the talking. Young person's guide to cooking (Micah Hartwell)
  • Ask your parents this question, "If you could...reduce pollution, conserve resources, prevent illness, extend life, save money, and rescue animals, all in one simple step... wouldn’t you take it?" (Peter Fulda)


  • Do what you feel is right for you and respect other's decisions as well. People often mock and criticize others because of their own insecurities. It has nothing to do with whom the comments are targeted at. (Mike Lieberman)
  • It is so hard to do what you think is best when your family is not on board. Always be respectful of their opinions and make your own choices whenever you can. Often people (even parents) are most critical when they don't have enough information to be supportive. You can do it! (Diane Evans Pearson)
  • Respect others' choices with kindness and discernment and ask that they do the same for you. (Jennifer Masley Pohlman)
  • Practice compassion for all, including those who don't understand your choice. (Lori Eve Simpson)
  • Stand strong in the refusal to eat the dead, and prolog the life! (John Effinger)
  • Their feelings come from fear, she may not change them ever, but find support elsewhere...and she has my support :)...she is the future, set an example for our teens :) (Tammy Krassick)
  • After a few years now I can say that I love being veg and going veg was the best thing I've ever done! Wishing you a lot of endurance from Germany ;) (Anna Stukart)
  • I delt with the same thing when I was 11 years old. Stand up for what you believe in, and remember it's 100% your choice what you put into your body, no ones words can change that. With that being said, be considerate of your parents feelin... (Laura Kyle)
  • People are afraid of being different and going against the norm. I became a vegetarian at 15(and vegan last year) and my parents were also against it. Fast forward 5 years, my mom became a vegetarian, and now vegan too (Claudine Ⓥ Cook)
  • Following your heart isn't always the easiest path... but you can be ASSURED that it will always take you where you are meant to go... many Blessings! :) (Amber Dunham)
  • We are born with the compassion that lets us see the beauty of all living things. Congratulations on your choice. (@lotuspad)
  • You are within your rights. Nobody can force you to eat animals. Stay strong for what you believe. You save lives. You are a hero. (Luis David Rojas)
  • What a powerful choice! People, parents or otherwise, can be most afraid of what they don't understand. The world is full of people who will stand up and make compassionate choices WITH her when they have the knowledge and the fearlessness to do so. (Colleen Campbell)
  • My 13 (almost 14) and 9 yr old boys both tell people when they give him a hard time that " I gotta do what's right for me, you do what's right for you" that's the short version when they know the other person won't listen to them talk about ethics, water, or the animals themselves! Both sets of their grandparents give them (and me) a hard time about not growing up healthy because they don't eat meat, and complain about how hard it is to eat out with "US", like we're difficult/weird/annoying. We don't eat out with them much anymore, and it's THEIR decision , not ours. (Denise Kemp-Otterson)
  • Understand that what's right for them isn't right for you even if they can't. Your choices are the most important thing you have. :) Good luck. (Tatiana Vaca)
  • Listen to your heart (Peg Caruso)
  • You're doing the right thing. you're taking the loving, compassionate path. nothing beats that. (Valeria Andrews)
  • They'll get over it once you accept who you are (J-lyn Williams)
  • Einstein was a vegetarian :) (Eric Justin Levinson)
  • Only you know what is right for you - be strong and take comfort from that fact that you are compassionate and wise and hopefully your parents will come to see that over time. (Amy Zeidman Horowitz)
  • Congratulations for being a thoughtful and compassionate young person! Your feelings are valid despite what others may say. Stick to your convictions and you can never go wrong! (Dani Taylor)
  • Making a choice that you believe in draws out both supporters and non-supporters. There's something important to be learned from both. Standing for something that goes against the grain is always a challenge. People are very attached to "THE WAY THINGS ARE". Don't take it personal. (Jess Abramson)
  • After learning where my food comes from and how it affects the earth, the animals and the body, I tried going vegan for 40 days. I was unsure of a lot of things: is it nutritionally complete to go vegan? Is the diet convenient enough for it to be sustainable in my lifestyle? Will my hair fall out?...I felt SO GOOD after the 40 days - body, mind and soul - that I've never gone back. The only thing I regret is not having gone vegan sooner! (Rebecca Lam)
  • Never give up! Never surrender! (Alex Charak)
  • Know that with each compassionate bite, you are making the world a kinder place for all. (Armaiti May) 
  • Continue to do what's right for you, your health, and the planet. Hopefully your parents will respect your choice. (Christopher Roschek)
Do you have more motivation and/or advice to offer? If so, comment below and I'll add it in this article.
Read 10126 times Last modified on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 02:16