Chapter 20 – Keeping
Cool at Home
Home is where the heart is. It can also be where the
Some parents don’t exactly jump for joy when you
tell them you’re going veggie. Never mind, it isn’t
their fault. All they’re guilty of is believing
the myths about vegetarianism that most people are taken
in by – you won’t get enough protein, you’ll
fade away and die, you won’t grow big and strong.
Of course, none of this true, so if you’ve got
trouble at home like this, show them Section 3.
Parents who don’t take this line often fall into
a second category – the ‘I’m not cooking
two meals, I don’t know what vegetarians eat, I
haven’t got time for these fads’ category.
Or it could be that your parents don’t want to
face the fact that eating meat causes untold misery and
suffering to animals so they make up all kinds of excuses
about why they don’t want you to change.
Perhaps the most difficult parent to persuade is the
one who just insists point blank that they’re not
going to let their daughter or son become vegetarian.
This kind of response is most common from dads, and particularly
the type of dad who has strong views on everything. He’ll
go purple in the face over ‘mindless hooligans
who care about nothing’ but gets just as worked
up over people who care about everything. You can’t
Fortunately, there’s another type of parent and
they’re on the way to becoming the biggest group
of all. These are the parents who are interested in what
you’re doing, why you’re doing it and usually,
after a few concerns about health, who will support you
all the way.
Believe it or not, there are ways to deal with all the
difficult types of parent successfully. The main thing
is to avoid throwing a wobbler. The reason why parents
object is largely ignorance. Most if not all parents
genuinely believe what they’re saying and care
about your health and welfare – although sometimes,
unfortunately, it is about control. What you have to
do is stay calm and show them they’re wrong. Find
out exactly what’s worrying your parents, and then
provide them with the information that answers their
Sally Dearing, 14, of Bristol told me, ‘When I
went veggie my mum went bananas. I was surprised at how
strongly she reacted. I asked her what the problem was.
Basically it came down to her knowing nothing about veggie
nutrition or food. So I told her about all the diseases
you can get from eating animals and how veggies get less
heart disease and cancers. I just piled all the reasons
on top of her and in the end she gave in! She bought
some recipe books and I helped with the cooking. Anyway – guess
what? After about two years she went veggie and even
my dad has stopped eating red meat.’
Of course your parents might have an entirely different
argument, claiming that animals are well cared for and
humanely slaughtered so there’s no need to worry.
Again, show them the truth. What you mustn’t expect
is for them to change their opinion straight away. New
information needs time to sink in – and folks generally
have to swish it around for a while and give it a bit
of thought. What usually happens after a day or so is
that parents think they’ve spotted a hole in your
argument and can’t wait to tell you why you’re
wrong. Listen to them, answer their argument, provide
some more information and wait. They’ll be back
for more. This can go on for days, weeks or even months.
Parents often think your vegetarianism is just a passing
craze. The only way to prove to them that it isn’t
is to be firm about what you believe and stick to it.
Believe me, it doesn’t take long for them to take
you seriously – if you are serious! I know, because
I’ve bee through it myself. I didn’t handle
it very well to begin with. I thought all I had to do
was explain the truth about how animals were treated
and my parents would change their whole lives immediately.
They didn’t – and instead of being patient
I started raising my voice, blaming them, and telling
them that they were responsible for the animals’ pain
and suffering. Of course, they were responsible for some
it but that wasn’t the best way to go about convincing
them that my going veggie was grand.
In the end, my mum got pretty annoyed – maybe
it was something to do with those ‘Warning, this
package contains a dead animal’ stickers all over
the kitchen?! But her irritation didn’t last long.
What she was guilty of was trying to sneak little bits
of finely-chopped meat, usually chicken, into my meals
because she thought I’d fade away without it. But
I sussed out what was going on straight away and refused
to eat the infected meals.
My mum stopped her sneaky tactics about a month later.
Once it dawned on her that I had changed forever, we
had long chats and she became very sympathetic – she
even began cutting most meats out of diet as well.
But what can you do with a stubborn parent who ‘won’t
have this nonsense in my house?’ If all the previous
advice fails, then it depends on just how much aggro
you’re prepared to put up with. If you refuse to
eat any meat or fish there is a good chance that he or
she will change – in time. Basically, when they
see you thrive on a veggie diet then at some point they
will accept that it’s a healthy way to live.
Some young people I know reach a compromise with their
parents. Sometimes the offer comes from them because
they can’t stand the nagging any longer and sometimes
it comes from the parents. It might be an agreement to
eat fish but give up meat; or to eat free-range chicken
and turkey but not red meat. For some people the compromise
works; others find it unacceptable. Quite a few see it
as a half way victory and live with it – but only
for time being.
If you’re faced with this situation, I can’t
tell you what to do. You might want to treat a compromise
as a step forward or you might feel you have to stick
to your principles. You might decide to wait until you’re
more in control of your own life before becoming vegetarian.
It’s difficult, particularly if you know the objections
are unfounded, like when your parents insist that vegetarianism
is unhealthy. In the end, only you can decide.
Leanne McCrorie, 15, from Glasgow, found her dad to
be a problem when she went veggie. She says, ‘My
dad tried to make me eat meat again – it was like
he didn’t want to be proved wrong and took it as
some kind of personal insult that I didn’t want
to be like him.’ But in time she was pleasantly
surprised al what happened. ‘Mum and dad started
to eat veggie food with me and now they say they really
What can be really irritating is when parents or grandparents
blame your vegetarianism for everything that goes wrong
in your life! Judith Rushman, 15, of North London experienced
this: ‘If I got a cold my nan would say “See,
I knew it – it’s that diet of yours.” My
mum even brought up vegetarianism when I fractured my
ankle a school!’ Still, the truth will out! Judith’s
family are ‘much more understanding. It’s
taken three years, but my mum actually thinks that meat’s
What can sometimes help with any parental ruck is to
get another adult to argue your case for you. If you
know an adult veggie make sure they know exactly how
you feel and get them to talk to your parents for you.
It’s likely that most of the objections you face
are really more to do with inconvenience than anything
else. Offer to help with the shopping and cooking so
your mum or dad isn’t left scratching their head
not knowing what to buy or cook. Even better, cook a
meal for the whole family at least once a week. Help
them by finding out the kind of foods that are quick
and easy to prepare and cook.
Fortunately, most people have a lot more knowledge about
vegetarianism than they did a few years ago and many
are pleased when their kids go veggie. If it was that
difficult there wouldn’t be half a million teenage
veggies in Britain alone.
‘I’m a vegetarian because I can’t
stand the horrific way animals are killed just for food.
If your parents are difficult, just state why you are
vegetarian and prepare to be flexible – don’t
alienate yourself. Try helping with some meals. In the
end they’ll realise that vegetarianism saves animals
and the environment and that it’s the right thing
- Damon Albarn, lead singer of Blur
Pointers to Dealing with Parents
You have to be reasonable with parents – to a degree!
The trouble is, left alone they may make the wrong decisions.
So, be clear where you can have influence. Help with
the shopping and, at the same time, try to make sure
your folks don’t buy battery eggs or veal etc.
If they don’t agree you could:
- Reason with them. Explain calmly how battery
hens/veal calves are treated and show them lots of
pictures which you can get from animal rights organisations
Viva! Explain to your mum and dad that they’re
responsible for animal suffering if they keep buying
- If the supermarket charges a fortune for free-range
eggs, shop around. Health food shops, markets and farms
usually sell them much cheaper.
- Really shock your parents and offer to do the washing
up for a week if they but free-range eggs/don’t
eat veal/ eat more veggie food.
If that doesn’t work, you could be less subtle
- Accidentally drop all the battery eggs on kitchen
floor. Then point out that the eggs break more easily
because the shells are thin due to the poor conditions
of the birds.
- If meat is the offending item, forget to put it
away; leave it close to the cat’s dish instead.
- Paint or felt-tip the eggs with sad faces of hens
and messages like ‘Warning – Salmonella’ and ‘Laid
- Sneakily swap the battery eggs for free-range eggs
in the shopping trolley when no one’s looking.
- Get loads of great veggie recipes and – eek – help
with the cooking.