Most of us were brought up eating meat and other animal products but an increasing number of people are choosing to eat differently. After all, we are not our parents, and we are likely to choose a different lifestyle from them in lots of ways.
Food obviously has an important role in our social lives and it can be a daunting prospect to be the one who takes a different path. But being vegan doesn’t mean you have to eat all that differently, as most of your pre-vegan favourites can easily be adapted. So you won’t be picking through sixteen types of lettuce while the rest of your family eats pie and chips. No, you’ll be eating pie and chips, too! If that’s what you want.
Most people when they first go vegan choose to substitute meaty foods for meat-free versions. So, if the rest of your family is having sausages, just buy a vegan sausage and have that. It won’t look all that different from theirs, but it won’t contain gristle and blood, and so it will be a whole lot tastier.
Similarly, choose from the range of burgers, pies, schnitzels, sausage rolls, fish-style fingers, ham-style slices and all the other substitutes that look and taste like meat but have none of the stuff you want to avoid.
If you’re eating out with loved ones, you’ll find that most restaurants offer vegan options or have full vegan menus, so you won’t feel you’re making a fuss when you get there. It’s always worth checking beforehand, though, and if there is nothing obvious on the menu, call and ask if they can create something for you.
Now, what to do at home? It is a strange thing but vegans, like non-smokers, often come to detest the sight and smell of animal products. If your parents, partner or children still consume them, then a compromise must be found. Having different shelves in the fridge can work, but some people ask their family to eat a vegan meal once a week, or more. This works best when you do the cooking and what you make is delicious! Most people find their loved ones are fully supportive, especially when you explain your reasoning to them, but sadly, some people are less kind. If this sounds like your situation, join Veganuary’s Facebook group, which is full of incredibly supportive people, some of whom have gone through the same teething troubles as you. You may also find there is a vegan group local to you, so you can go along, eat cake, and not feel like you’re the only vegan in the world. Because you’re not!
Finally, big family gatherings can prove something of a challenge if you’re the only vegan. It may take a little planning to make sure there is something for you to eat and you may need to offer to bring your own main along. If it’s a buffet, take along some hummus and samosas and you’re bound to find other things, such as crisps and nuts, that you can eat. If it’s a barbecue, take along your veggie burgers and sausages, and – if you’re keen to avoid the meat grill – your own barbecue too. Disposable ones may not be all that environmentally-friendly but they might be useful in this situation.
One upside of being the vegan black sheep in a non-vegan family is that you can become a living example of a healthy, happy vegan and it is quite likely that others around you will start to eat more vegan foods, too.