“You’re now a what?” I exclaimed. Standing in our kitchen in front of the open refrigerator, my daughter, somewhat hesitantly but proudly stated, “I’m a vegan, Mom.”
Well, I thought, this is what happens when you send them away to college, and they return as their own person. “Okay,” I said, “what exactly does that mean?”
Gesturing into the refrigerator, she stated, “I mostly can’t eat any of this stuff.” After an explanation of all the food items vegans don’t eat I wondered aloud “Well what exactly do you eat and how and what am I supposed to cook and buy for you? There’s nothing left!”
And so the learning curve began. She came prepared with recipes, cookbooks, vegan websites and more. She convinced me she wouldn’t starve and that she wouldn’t be missing vital nutrients. “But what about the Dannon coffee yogurt you love and the Parmesan cheese you literally dump on your pasta? Do you mean to tell me you won’t eat that anymore? I don’t believe it.”
True to her beliefs she didn’t find it difficult to give up these former favorite foods. She had found wonderful healthful and plentiful vegan food items. And she taught me. We shopped and cooked together and pored over vegan recipe books deciding what we would make next.
And then the dare came: “Why don’t you try eating vegan, mom?” Visions of my cheese, yogurt, milk, and eggs, flashed into view.
“Oh no honey, not for me.” She was crushed. She so wanted me to share in her new found passion of cruelty-free eating. Not wanting to let her down, I agreed. And at summer’s end, before she returned to college, I was eating a mostly vegan diet, and feeling fantastic. I had lost some weight, and my cholesterol had dropped close to 50 points. Once I became educated about factory farming and the cruelty inflicted on animals, I knew I no longer wanted to be a part of that and contribute to any suffering.
But what about the rest of the family—how did they handle this change? Well, while they did not become vegan, the food we made was so delicious, no one seemed to miss anything. And in many instances, the vegan dishes were preferred.
That said, the missing turkey at Thanksgiving can still be an issue for some of the family. But I have always believed and maintained that food should not be a reason for fights and rifts in the family. I respected my daughter’s choice all those years ago when she became vegan, and I wanted to support her. She found the turkey offensive and vehemently disliked Thanksgiving for that reason. Finding that extremely sad, it was decided to ditch the turkey. Now, our Thanksgivings are filled with fabulous vegan food—grain and vegetable dishes, mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes made with Earth Balance butter, and Tofurky roasts. But mostly they are filled with love and respect.
And how can you not respect and be proud of our children who become vegan? They do so out of respect for animals, and the health of our planet. They are making informed conscious food choices. So I would say to the parents of vegan kids, “Congratulations on raising a wonderfully compassionate person. Job well done!”