Since becoming veggie, it seems that certain people are shying away from me, namely my family. I feel that my parents don't like my becoming vegetarian. It's as though I'm a different religion than they are. And to make matters worse, not only my family, but others think I am somehow neglecting my children if I don't allow them to eat meat or cheese. How do I deal with this delicate situation? Suggestions, please!!!
Personally, my parents only took issue with my dietary shift as far their nutritional concerns went. I did the research and showed them they results, and they were generally accepting.
Now, I also happen to have rather conservative (politically and socially) relatives who definitely hold that "men eat meat." I have experienced degrees of discomfort in these situations, not because I internalized their judgments (I have no desire to be the type of man defined by the consumption of rotting flesh) but rather because, well, it hurts when those close to you are judgmental.
The best advice I can give you is, firstly, don't internalize what is being relayed to you. You have made your own decisions, and be proud of them. That said, perhaps if those close to you really understood your reasoning they would be more accepting.
Finally, there are some practical realities here. Many social situations involve meat. So many "American" institutions are meat-centric (fast food, BBQ, sporting events, etc.) and while vegans can enjoy these things (well, not fast food - ick), most people approach the issue as if we were abandoning tradition. Another final issue is that people often feel implicitly judged when talking with vegans. The relationship becomes strained because it is clear one person is making a moral judgment about the other (even if this is not done actively). I understand because, frankly, I cannot relate to chauvinists, racists, sexists, homophobes and warmongerers (among other groups). It is natural to see relationships strained when ethical issues are at play. I guess the key is to reconcile these things, and conversation will likely be the starting point. Granted, I come from a family of very *open* communicators.
And to make matters worse, not only my family, but others think I am somehow neglecting my children if I don't allow them to eat meat or cheese. How do I deal with this delicate situation? Suggestions, please!!!
Here are a few links that might be useful:
I second VegDave - present your family with nutritional info. There are quite a few misconceptions out there about vegan (and even ovo-lacto) nutrition. It's ironic that the same ppl who are convinced that "neglecting" to eat animal flesh is somehow a danger to a growing child think nothing of feeding their children junk like McDonalds & other processed foods. I think the best way (difficult as it may sometimes be) to convince ppl you love that your dietary choices are healthy is to eat and live very healthfully. If they see you as being robust and energietic, they may make the connection that the way you eat is a good thing. You can tell them about how much better you've been feeling since making the switch (and even recommend they eat a vegetarian meal every now and then themselves). It might also help to get the support of your doctor.
My family teases me, but I'm very lucky that they still respect me. I hope your family will come around soon...