Your best friend is vegan, your neighbor is a vegan, there are vegan options on the menu of your favorite restaurant, there are vegan lotions and make-up at the beauty store, and you watched a documentary (or three) about veganism on Netflix. So, needless to say, veganism has intrigued you. But if you’re a teenager whose parents’ weekly shopping list consists of animal products such as eggs, chicken, ground beef, chicken broth, butter, and pizza pockets, you might not know how to talk to them about the ways in which they can support your potential cruelty-free lifestyle. If this sounds like you, don’t worry because many vegan teens have gone through the same thing. Often, you’ll find that, at first, meat-eating parents (or at least one parent) can have a difficult time understanding your transition. However, by following a few simple tips, your mom or dad (or both) will be saying “pass the seitan” in no time.
Turns out, your English teachers are correct—you need to support your claims with facts and credible sources. Rather than telling your parents you want to go vegan because it’s cool and trendy, learn about veganism as much as you can. Then, teach your parents! Show them websites such as The Vegan Society and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (which have a lot of information), and tell them to watch vegan-friendly videos on YouTube. Or, if your parents aren’t the online types, get creative, and put together a PowerPoint or a pamphlet with all the information you found on the internet. Once your parents know that you know what you’re talking about, they’ll respect your decision and will want to see you thrive in your new lifestyle.
Watch vegan documentaries
Again, as your English teachers say: show, don’t tell. If you have Netflix, ask your parents to watch What the Health, Cowspiracy, and Vegucated. Of those three, you should begin with Vegucated because the film follows the lives of three non-vegans challenging themselves to go vegan for six weeks (spoiler alert: all three go vegan). If your parents don’t watch documentaries, try Okja. Our advice: keep a box of tissue near you because this one’s a tear-jerker.
Have a purpose
Are you going vegan for your health? If so, tell your parents. Are you going vegan because the animals raised or consumption are responsible for 32,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year in our atmosphere? If yes, then explain how you want their grandchildren (trust us: parents love this line) to live in a healthy, prosperous world. If your reasoning is ethical, remind your parents that millions of animals are raised for consumption in harsh conditions for the sole purpose of being slaughtered. Then, remind them that slaughtering animals isn’t cool.
Show them the health benefits
If you’re going vegan for your health, you have a lot to tell your parents. This is important because many omnivorous parents worry that their vegan children won’t get proper nutrition. Well, mom and dad, nothing could be further from the truth. Your parents might think that the most prominent sources of nutrition—protein, vitamins, and fat—come from animal products, but the truth is that there are a lot of ways to nourish your body on a plant-based diet. If your parents are concerned about protein consumption, tell them that tofu, tempeh, beans, nuts, and vegetables are full of protein. Also, there are loads of vegan protein powders. And if they ask about vitamins, you can tell them that plants have vitamins K, C, D, A along with a slew of others. If they’re still worried, show them the plethora of vegan vitamin supplements now available.
That said, the easiest, most effective, and most fun way to win over your parents (or anyone, really) is to feed them delicious vegan food. Invite your parents into the kitchen to cook a vegan, budget-friendly Mexican dish or a five-minute Chickpea Curry soup. Then, serve them these meals, and watch as they devour their food. As a bonus, offer to do the dishes (because a little goodwill can go a long way when trying to get your parents to understand you).
Ana Sofia Rodriguez is a vegan teen journalist who likes to write about fashion, culture, and anything else her mind can come up with.