Becoming a vegan really is exciting. You are starting a new phase of your life and are going through lots of growth. It’s a great feeling knowing that you are getting healthier, living a more compassionate lifestyle, and reducing your footprint on the environment.
Though this is a positive change in your life, you are for sure going to face a lot of backlash from the people around you. Not everyone is happy that you are going vegan, especially if it makes them feel bad about themselves.
It is going to be tough, but I want to start out helping you learn how to go vegan by sharing my personal story about how I became vegan.
I was born and raised in Canada, leading a care-free life, not thinking about my health at all. My diet was terrible due to a heavy emphasis on Animal Products.
Both of my parents had grew up in Poland in a time of poverty. When they were children, Animal Products had been the food of the rich, so when they came over to Canada, they immersed themselves with Animal Products every single meal they could. This carried over to how they fed me, and as a result, I was quite sick by the time I was a teen.
By 15 years old, I was having tons of health issues. I got use to the fact that every day I had a stomach ache, tons of mucous, and little to no energy to exercise. This inspired me to look for alternatives, and as a result, I ended up on a vegan diet.
Now I bet you can imagine that trying to convince my meat loving parents that I wanted to go vegan wouldn’t be the simplest endeavour in my life. Heck, every year my family and I would go out to The Rib Fest, a festival to try out the top barbecued ribs with the best sauces from all across America, and we just loved it. Going vegan would change how we could spend time bonding together, and potentially our entire relationship.
What I focused on telling my parents about, was the health benefits of adopting a plant based diet. Now being a 15 year old with little nutritional background makes it hard to convince anyone of anything, so I made sure to go out and buy books written by Doctors who know what they are talking about.
The book that really made the difference was The China Study By T.Colin Campbell. I gave my mother The China Study so that she could read through and understand why I was so willing and eager to give up animal products.
I mainly intended to go vegan alone, but once my mother had read through The China Study, she felt inspired to start working towards a plant based diet herself.
As the cook of the house, she started making more plant-based meals, and before we knew it, my dad also came over to a plant-based diet.
Overall, I am very fortunate with how willing my parents were to make the change and improve their lives. They have seen amazing health benefits because of it, and it’s made them feel years younger.
Now that you know a little more about how I became vegan, I want to help you out by going more in depth as to what you should do, and what you shouldn’t do. I’m going to break this down into the two main obstacles you are most likely to face as a teen: your parents and your friends.
Your parents are people who have raised you since birth and care for you. Typically they just want the best for you, so they may be offended if you start telling them everything they have been feeding you for years has been terrible and ruined your health. Saying that they are horrible people who are killing defenceless animal each and every meal isn’t going to do much good either. So what do you do?
Focusing on the health benefits is a great idea, as it brings the idea of a better future right to their plate. One important factor though, is that you can not be preachy. If you preach at your parents and say that they must change or they will get sick and die, chances are they won’t listen to you.
Preaching is just going to start building a wall in between you and your parents. What you want to form is a relationship where they understand that you are doing this vegan-thing because it really is making you feel better. Even if they aren’t motivated to do it themselves, if they can understand that you are able to live a more exciting and passionate life because of it, they will be much more accepting of what you are doing.
Having a book like The China Study also helps a lot because it shows that the vegan diet isn’t just some crazy hippy BS, but is actually supported by scientific evidence.
Focus on getting them to understand why you are making the change, and aim to be as confident as possible. If they see that you are confident about this change and that you have a sound backing from medical doctors, they are much more likely to begin trusting that this might actually work.
Who knows, you may even get the chance to inspire your parents to go Vegan and completely change their lives!
When you are with friends I highly recommend that you don’t make the transition a big deal. I personally didn’t mention that I went vegan unless someone asked me why I was eating fruit for lunch and nothing else.
It is vital that you don’t start preaching at people that they need to go vegan. Just as with your parents, this will weaken your relationship with your friends, rather than build it.
What is really powerful is the effects of silent example. If someone forms a great relationship with you, and learns to trust you, when they learn that you are also a vegan, they’ll be much more willing to ask you questions and be curious. When they see that you have lots of energy and are always in a great mood, they’ll start connecting the dots and will want what you have.
You can’t force anyone to become vegan, but you can inspire people to go vegan through your actions. No one wants to feel judged, and if you make your friends feel inferior, you will never get anywhere. If you are a shining example of a vegan, people will want to talk to you to find out what exactly you are doing.
Just be who you are and don’t try to change anyone or influence them. If you really are becoming healthier, fitter, and happier, people will notice. You will form great relationships with non-vegans, and by just being you, will inspire some to take initiative.
I personally have inspired one of my friends from high school to look into veganism and not once did I push my beliefs onto him. I was willing to answer any questions and lend him some books, but it was his interest that started the conversations about veganism.
In the end, whatever situation it may be, if you are a healthy, fit, happy, and caring individual, you will be able to do well in any situation. Work on your own personal growth and living out what you feel is right, and the rest of your life should align with that. Live through silent example, but be willing to answer any questions anyone asks you. You may lose a few friends who really disagree with who you are becoming, and you might not have extremely supportive parents, but you will be able to continue living as a vegan, and continue growing into a better person.
Enjoy the whole process of going vegan. The ups, the downs, they are all part of your growth. You will eventually look back and be happy with whatever changes you chose to commit to. Take the steps to become who you want to be, but remember to be as honest, caring, and open as possible. I know that if you put in the time and effort, you will be able to succeed in becoming a vegan, and have a fun time doing it
If you know a teen that is considering going vegan or is struggling to go vegan, go ahead and send them this article and it might just help them take the next step.