“Guess what mom and dad, I’m a vegetarian!”
If those words would strike terror in your heart if it came from your child, this article is for you. While we all are aware that vegetarians walk amongst us, when someone we love becomes a vegetarian, its easy to fear they have fallen in with some strange eastern cult and that we should start looking into organizing an intervention before they go off the deep end and go to South America to disappear forever into a commune or follow some cult leader to doom because.
But before mom goes into hysterics or dad puts the kid in a padded room, lets have a reasonable discussion about what it means when your loved one becomes a vegetarian and what you can do to make sure they are safe and still the same person you always have known and loved. And the heart of being able to cope with the conversion of a child or a loved one to vegetarianism is knowledge and understanding.
The truth is you have not lost your child to a cult or to another religion if they become a vegetarian. In fact, you can still take them to church and they can be the same religion they always were and also be a devout vegetarian at the same time. That is because their decision to not eat meat is primarily a dietary decision and it doesn’t have to mean anything severe or odd about the one you love.
More and more normal and healthy people you already know have made the move to a vegetarian lifestyle and it doesn’t change who they are. There are primarily three reasons the one you love may have decided to become a vegetarian or a vegan.
1. For health reasons. Eliminating meat from your diet is good for you and it is an outstanding way to diet. If your loved one just wants to eat more healthy, there is no reason to organize an intervention to put a stop to that.
2. For ethical reasons because your loved one is upset about the cruel and unethical treatment of animals who are raised for slaughter to provide the meat industry with food to feed us. Even if you disagree with this ethical position, eliminating meat from the diet is not a radical thing to do. It is just a different lifestyle and a healthy one at that.
3. for spiritual reasons. Most religions encourage some form of fasting or limitation of excess in eating. Perhaps your loved one is going through a time of greater religious devotion and not eating meat helps with times of contemplation and prayer. Anyone would see that as a good thing to be encouraged and supported.
Notice before the list we used the word “vegan”. Don’t be afraid of that word. If your child calls from college to say, “Guess what mom and dad, I’m a vegan”, that just means your child has become a vegetarian but is following a culture of vegetarianism that is more extreme than others.
Instead of overreacting and putting your loved one into an intervention, the best response to learning he or she has become a vegetarian is to learn more about it and encourage the move. Your loved one can be a life long vegetarian and have nothing bad come of it. If fact, he or she will live better and longer because of the decision. Do some reading about what it means to live a vegetarian lifestyle and be supportive in how you prepare meals or in what restaurants you chose when spending time with your loved one.
Then be open to hear why your friend or family member made this change in their life. Will they try to “convert” you to become a vegetarian also. Perhaps. But by engaging in an open discussion of what it means to be a vegetarian, you can express support for your loved one without becoming a vegetarian yourself. And when you make their decision normal and approved of as part of your family life, it can enrich your loved ones life and yours too. Because becoming a vegetarian is a very healthy step for anyone.
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