The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog


Posted on September 19, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


By Alicia Hückmann, VRG intern visiting from Germany

These are some of the tips I wish someone had given my parents when I became a vegetarian at the age of 17 and finally vegan a year later. I was very lucky to have my own apartment (and fridge!) during my transition because I no longer depended on my parents providing vegetarian/vegan food. While my family tolerated (or rather ignored) my decision to become vegetarian, they would get me into loud arguments for choosing a diet that is “known to cause deficiencies.” Today, about two years later, this has stopped but they still won’t taste any of the dishes I make, let alone let me cook for them once in a while.

At that time, I was mature enough to understand that my family only reacted in this way because they deeply care about me and want me to be healthy; however, their approach showed me that they had little faith in my ability to take responsibility for my own life. For teenagers who struggle to be regarded as independent young adults, this is one of the worst things that can happen. As a teaching student who has been running classes for 12-18 year-olds, I know how sensitive teenagers react to teachers or parents who make them feel like they are not being taken seriously. Showing teenagers that you think their opinions matter on the other hand contributes immensely to a positive class atmosphere. Teenagers who become vegetarian stand up for their personal values and for what they think is right. Their decisions are often based on profound knowledge about the animal industry, health, and the environment and show that they are critical thinkers who do not mind swimming against the tide. For this reason, I think that everybody who is willing to do the transition deserves support and encouragement by their family and friends.

I think the most important thing is supporting your teenager and their decision. When children go through puberty, they are likely to start isolating and estranging themselves from their family. A teenager that is unable to join family dinners because of their diet and thus forced to prepare their own meals is in even greater risk of doing so. In order to prevent your child from feeling excluded, you could introduce meatless days on which you let your teenager create a menu for the entire family and help them prepare it. Cooking together is a great way of bonding with your child and showing them that you have faith in their skills. Once you create a trusting and respecting relationship with your teenager, it will also be easier to speak openly about your concerns and worries.

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