Making the switch to a vegetarian lifestyle isn’t always easy, especially if your entire family is all about huge turkey dinners. I discovered this first hand when I gave up eating meat.
Initially the decision had to do with my health, I wanted to feel better about my body and the food I was consuming. Whenever I ate meat, I felt extremely sluggish and bloated. So why not try something new? It couldn’t be that hard to go without meat, right?
I felt great about my choice: convicted, passionate and ready to start a new journey. But I lived with my parents in a home full of meat-eaters—it wasn’t the ideal setting for my newly acquired veggie lifestyle. Everywhere I turned someone was snacking on something I couldn’t have: kolbassa and crackers, pepperoni pizza, a ham sandwich. Craving induced hunger set in—what if I never got to experience a steak dinner again?
Needless to say, I caved. I held off for four days, but in the end a mesmerizing turkey club sandwich took me down. Guilt and regret washed through me immediately after my plate was clean. I vowed to never slip like this again—I could be strong.
A few more days went by and I sat with a heavy heart after slipping up… again. Why was it so hard to commit to being vegetarian? I realized that I had no network of other like-minded people that I could turn to. I hadn’t found a community of vegetarians to be a part of for support, so I was isolated in my efforts.
I also found it difficult with the food options available to me at home. Since I was the only one in the family making the change to vegetarian, a lot of our meals revolved around meat in some way or another. I didn’t have a fridge full of vegetarian-friendly foods to run to whenever I wanted a snack.
Over time I made it work, I learned to be gentle with myself if I slipped up until it eventually stopped happening, I stopped by the grocery store to get some of my own snacks and I found online resources for recipes, advice, and inspiration.
My body felt amazing. Gone were the days of bloating and after-meal tiredness; I found I had a lot more energy and a feeling of lightness that had never been there when I’d eaten meat. Now that I’d been able to go without it consistently, I felt renewed.
However, it wasn’t just about the health concerns anymore; along the way I researched contributing factors for becoming vegetarian or vegan and found a ton of information on the ways the meat industry is affecting our environment and the animals. I wanted to keep up my new lifestyle not just for myself, but also for the planet and the creatures of the earth. I wanted to do my part in contributing to a kinder world.
Several months after I’d made the decision to become vegetarian and had fully committed to it, my mom decided to try it out as well. Let me tell you, that was a turning point—all of a sudden things got much easier.
While I’d already figured out ways to make it work on my own, having my mom come on board made all the difference. The kitchen became stocked with foods I could actually eat, there was one more person who wasn’t criticizing my decision or trying to get me to go back to eating meat and I had a companion I could talk to about all this vegetarian stuff.
Someone in my family finally understood what I was going through and I could share what I’d learned so far along my journey with someone who was just starting out.
Now I’m not saying that if your child becomes a vegetarian you should follow suit. But supporting your child and fostering a positive environment—whether it be through adjusting meals and your grocery list or helping them find their own vegetarian community—is a must.
A poll commissioned by the Vancouver Humane Society reported that 33% of Canadians, which is around 12 million people, are already vegetarian or at least trying to eat less meat. I’m not alone in my decision to become vegetarian, but having someone in my family support my choice was a really important part of the journey.
With a third of the population heading towards a meatless diet, chances are one of your kids may give it a shot too. Whether for health, animal rights, or environmental concerns—this is a big decision, and your response and support can make their experience a lot easier.
Besides, more fruits and veggies in the house will be better for the whole family.