How to Deal with Resistance from Family and Friends When You Become a Vegan (for Teens)

When you decide to be vegan as a teen, you can meet a fair bit of resistance from family members and friends who are not so convinced that your choice is either a wise one for your health or a a good one for your sense of enjoyment of life. It can be quite upsetting when somebody dismisses your choice by suggesting that you're just doing it to be like a movie star, to be thin or just going through a fad. You know you're not. It's not only your choice but it is also a case of asking for respect from others for your choice.


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    Explain to your family and friends the reasons why you have decided to go vegan. Do this calmly and with good facts supporting your defense. You don't want to argue or ram things down their throats but you do want to make it clear that you've done the research and that you are serious about your choice. In particular, get the low-down on health and veganism - this is most likely to worry parents and cause them to react in less-than-helpful ways.
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    Be polite and respond simply with parents who do not understand your choice. For example, if your parents are serving dinner and they ask you if you'd like some chicken, milk, or salmon in a "hint, hint" way, thereby ignoring that you have told them already about your choice, simply decline. Do not whine, argue or leave the table in a huff. In merely declining, there are no strings attached.
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    Try not to react defensively or with irritation when siblings tease you about your choice. There is a difference between defending yourself calmly and acting defensively and rising to bite at every morsel of teasing offered to you. If siblings make fun of you and tease you with meat and other non-vegan products, you have many options. You can ignore the jibes and eventually the fun will disappear for them. You could respond by explaining that it is just a personal choice; if you say this simply, end it there. If you want to bore them, go into great details in a sort of monologue that they will be anxious to escape from. Anything you do, the goal is to get them to stop and to begin respecting you. If you have supportive parents, ask them to assist you in calming teasing siblings. Overall, a family that has respect for each other should not find it difficult to be respectful in this situation.
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    Be strong and calm in other situations outside the home. If people try to anger, irritate or tease you at school, work or elsewhere about your veganism, including taunting you by saying that meat, dairy, and fish tastes so good and that you don't know what you're missing out on, you can also choose to just ignore them or you can discuss the merits of being vegan with them. It also helps to have one or two famous vegans to quote as proof of healthy vegans, for example, Moby of music fame or Gwyneth Paltrow, the actress. Wikipedia has a list of famous vegans you can learn by heart. It also helps to find famous sports people who thrive on a vegan diet, such as tri-athlete Brendan Frazier or Ed Templeton, professional skateboarder.
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    Cook up a storm. If you want to impress the omnivores, give them some delicious vegan food. Not only will it prove that vegan food's all right, it'll also help to build a shared sense of understanding and enjoyment. People rarely knock back a meal or snack that has been made with love, care and attention. And one of the age-old tricks of many a vegetarian and vegan is not to reveal the ingredients until after the compliments. That way, it's a little harder for the naysayers to take back their enjoyment! Always make good use of flavors, spices and herbs when cooking for non-converts as it is taste that you are seeking to convince about here.
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    Ask your parents and other family members to become actively involved in learning more. If they are teasing you because they feel personally threatened by your choice or because they really fear for your health, ask for one night of their time to talk through the issues of being vegan. Use reputable websites that have information about teens and vegan diets to assist you to present your information. Perhaps do this after the meal that you have made in the step just before. Some websites are listed below. There are also some excellent feature films, documentaries and videos that your family may be willing to watch with you to get a better understanding of some of the issues involved (for example, Forks Over Knives, Earthlings or the Intelligence Squared debate that recently took place in Australia, entitled "Should Meat Be Off the Menu?").


  • Don't stop being a vegan because people tease you. If it gets really bad, tell an adult, or, be strong about your choice and not care.
  • It's really important to work out what you can eat when going out with friends. This can often be a stumbling block that prevents your enjoyment and, in turn, can upset or irritate friends when you don't join in the enjoyment of a meal or occasion. Obviously it will vary from country to country, but look online for "vegan fast food choices" or similar phrases to help you find lists that others have kindly compiled to help you find choices where your friends are going. Also, think creatively. The restaurant only has cheese sauce for its spaghetti? Ask for spaghetti with only olive oil and a shaking of dried herbs. Or, if you're really desperate, just ask for the spaghetti and some ordinary ketchup! You will learn by experience.
  • Do your own searches online and in the library on teens and veganism, to find the solid facts that you need to meet concerns and jibes raised by other people. Knowledge is power and whenever you make a choice in this world that goes against what is considered a normal lifestyle, you do need to be armed with knowledge to be able to calmly persuade others that you know what you are doing.


  • No matter how much someone teases you, don't react with anger or lash out because you are so hurt. Many teens who become vegan do so because they are highly compassionate and sensitive by nature. It stands to reason, therefore, that your sensitivity to being teased is likely to be elevated, but stooping to the level of those who are teasing you is never acceptable and does not fit in with the vegan ethos of caring for people and animals alike.
  • When you make the change to become vegan, be prepared to make some sacrifices. You might need to acquire an after school job to help your family with grocery money. Most parents are on a fixed income and can not start buying specialty foods such as tofu and soy milk just because someone in the family has decided to alter their own personal diet and go vegan. While it may not seem like such a far stretch for an individual, independent person to change his or her eating style, it is hard for a parent who has to cook for a whole family to change and prepare individual meals for different members of the family (financially and physically).

Sources and Citations

  • Veg Family, Vegan Teens - articles and information on making it easier to go vegan for teens

Article Info

Categories: Vegetarian Health