Tip # 4: What about children or spouses and partners?
My sweetheart and I are both vegetarian - so we're good there.
But our daughter is 13 and she has never quite warmed up to this notion of ditching meat from her diet. Girl loves her beef burger.
The way we've handled it? We've taken the time to talk to her about why we're vegetarian from both a health and ethical perspective.
We have lively discussions at the dinner table often, and she gets it.
However, we don't force our lifestyle choice on her.
At home, we don't cook or buy meat of course, but when she's out at friends' houses, it's up to her.
As far as gluten free eating though, it's pretty much the standard at our house. This is because I'm the one that cooks most of the time, and I'll be damned if I'm going to spend double the time in the kitchen cooking a different meal for everybody.
When we go out to eat however, by principle we do not pay for non-vegetarian food. So if she wants us to pay for her food, she does have to order vegetarian.
But it's not just her. When we eat out with friends, we don't pay for non-vegetarian meals either. And we're fine with them not paying for our vegetarian meals if they so choose.
Regarding spouses or live-in partners, that gets a bit tough.
If your spouse isn't vegetarian, and won't indulge you in becoming one, this is going to be your call as to how much fuss you're going to make about it.
It's your lifestyle. I do think it's going to be a bit difficult if your life partner is a hardcore meat eater and you've become a vegan or vegetarian, but I've seen people do it.
For me personally it'd be difficult. Vegetarianism isn't just a dietary lifestyle for me. It's an identity. So I would find it incredibly difficult even to have meat in my fridge, let alone cook it for a partner.
But if you chose to become a vegan or vegetarian after you'd already committed to being with this person, you do have to look at in perspective, no?
I have a friend Tracey, who is vegetarian, but her husband and two boys are meat eaters. She normally has to prepare a meal for herself and separate meals for her family.
Another friend Ginny is a raw vegan, but her husband eats meat. She draws the line at cooking for him. He can have the meat in the fridge and eat it as long as she doesn't have to cook it.
She does the same with her (adult and married) daughters. When they visit with her grandkids, she just lets everyone cook for themselves if they wish, but she prepares vegan food for family meals.
I think you can only do your best. No need to create antagonism or force your lifestyle upon others. My friend Ginny has seen her daughters visit her less and less because of her lifestyle change, but she's okay with that.
I see so many people use their family as the excuse for why their vegetarian or vegan lifestyle didn't work out.
My take is that if you're anything over the age of 18, there's no reason your family should have to determine your dietary lifestyle unless you're handicapped and/or physically dependent on them.
Tip #5 Join a Support group
Becoming a vegetarian or vegan is a radical lifestyle change.
But it's not radical because it factually is, but because our society is programmed to see meat eating as the "norm" and anything that rejects it as weird.
Isn't that weird? ;)
I can't tell you how many times my own friends look at me funny when I tell them I can't go to a certain restaurant with them because it isn't vegetarian-friendly.
A few times I've had somebody retort, "but they DO serve salad". And they aren't even being facetious.
Some people really do think that vegetarians eat only salad. Heck, even raw vegans eat a little more than just leaves!
So, because it is a non-mainstream lifestyle, you will be well served to join some kind of a support group when you become a vegan or vegetarian, at least at first. And in this day of internet connection, this shouldn't be a problem at all.
Meetup.com is the first place I'd look for local support groups.
Vegans and vegeterians, as well as gluten freers will normally have local meet ups where they meet and share recipes, learn to cook, or even just engage in other social activities altogether.
Other great places are online forums. Just look around the internet and see if there are any discussion boards that speak to you.
If you do decide to go online forums though, be warned that there can be a lot of noise and arguments on various discussion boards, depending on how they are focused.
So choose wisely.
You just started a new and what can be an overwhelming lifestyle in the beginning. Your family probably doesn't get it or is putting you down. The last thing you need is to go engage conclict with strangers, some of whom are probably just trolling behind computer screens.
When I first decided to become a vegan, I got somewhat lucky because I had a friend who'd recently become a raw-foodist. She had started doing meetups for vegans and vegetarians plus anybody curious about the lifestyle.
One thing I found incredible was that these types of people were also engaged in conscious personal growth and alternative lifestyles.
These folks were therefore incredibly fun to hang around. It gave me a chance to make great friendships with like-minded individuals.
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