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veg/non-veg clash

Ok, so here goes........

My mom used to be a vegetarian (ovo-lacto)....my dad never was and never will be......and I am essentially a total vegetarian (no dairy, no eggs except for VERY occasionally). 

My dad finds it EXTREMELY upsetting that we don't all eat the same food all the time......I'm not quite sure why that's such a big deal to him, but it is----the concept of people eating meals that are not totally "communal" actually depresses him. 

I really don't know what to do.  He thinks that he accomodates me, and that I do NOTHING to accomodate him.  BUT....he doesn't eat beans (unless they combined w/ meat/poultry/fish), tofu or tempeh, so I NEVER get to eat what I like for dinner.  (I'm not allowed to eat beans while he eats chicken.)  I make a LOT of compromises--eating dairy and eggs; I've even eaten fish.  I realize that he also makes lots of compromises, but he's NOT THE ONLY ONE!!!!

How can I (peacefully) get him to understand and respect my eating habits/lifestyle? :-[

I live in a ranching community.  No one understands my choices and I am constantly being told that if I don't start eating flesh, I won't live long!  This is absurd.

My sense is that he is being controlling and judgmental of your choices.  By refusing to let you eat what you wish and forcing his choices on you is being inflexible on his part.  Pouting over it is clearly manipulative behavior.  On the other hand, he is your dad and you live there, so you need to keep the peace.  You are also an individual and you have a right to make healthy choices for yourself, be those choices about diet, lifestyle, personal dress and grooming habits. 

I don't think he'd take well to a heart to heart because he just can't see it.  I am afraid you are stale mated.  Mom has given in and it seems to me that by pressuring you, he feels he can achieve the same outcome.  Just be gentle with him if you can.  Men over 40 can be extremely immoveable and stubborn people, giving a whole meaning to the term "set in their ways."

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I am not trying to be rude but it seems like your father has some issues with food. I would ask him politely to stop blaming his depression on you. Provide him with some solid sources of nutritional info about beans and other foods he wants to ban. I like whfoods.com "The healthiest foods in the world" site.  I would also say once in a while to eat what you want before your family dinner, than munch on some vegetarian sides made for the whole family so you don't look like you're eating different food than him.  Other than that.. I dunno, his way of thinking is pretty weird to me. I'm sorry you have to deal with that  :-\

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I definitely agree with kylissa here, "provide him with some solid sources of nutritional info" about vegetarian diets and whole foods.  He can't really disagree with solid proof!

And I also have an analogous scenario with my father.  He was raised in a very italian, meat-oriented meal order, and with almost every meal he has, meat is a part of, meat sauce, meat chili -- processed and canned of course, it's really gross.  I try to warn him about the dangers of eating processed, high-cholesterol foods, but he is very set in his ways.  I know he wants to try to eat healthier now that I have warned him, but he owns his own woodworking business and he's the only employee he has.
  However, there are definitely alternatives to his diet that are much healthier for him.  I know it can be very very difficult to persuade someone 'stubborn' to understand where you are coming from, especially if they keep a closed mind to what you are saying.  But, don't give up.  People who most often succeed in their passions are the ones that remain passionate themselves.  Best of luck to you.

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i've given up on trying to win my father over. look on the bright side.... whenever you bring someone amazing home or have leftovers, just tell him it's vegan and he won't touch it!  :D

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  "My dad finds it EXTREMELY upsetting that we don't all eat the same food all the time......I'm not quite sure why that's such a big deal to him, but it is----the concept of people eating meals that are not totally "communal" actually depresses him"

    Quite simply, if you believe in veg*nsm; be who you are. If he has a problem with everyone eating differently, present him with the clear and simple option of him joining you. Just repeat that invitation for every complaint and he'll probably tire of hearing it, and leave you alone. :-\

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Benjamin Disraeli said it best: "Never complain, never explain." Just keep doing what you're doing and don't be drawn into discussions which quickly morph into arguments on his side. You're free and over 21, so just smile and refuse to be drawn. I remember back in the 60s some of the popular phrases: "I see where you're coming from"; "That's really beautiful, man" (beautiful=ridiculous, but most over 30s didn't know that) or a friend used to look at the hostile person and say, "I really understand how you feel and I'm glad you feel comfortable expressing it." And then just leave it there. I try to prepare some veg*n dishes my DH likes (mushroom spaghetti etc) and otherwise I just cook things I know I like. Of course when you're on his turf, it's harder...as Kylissa says, share the dishes you can, and rave about how good they are if you can...otherwise just weather the storm. We're here for you.

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I have heard something recently that made me think of your post, but it was in relation to smoking (nasty habit) and not about eating.

I had a friend who smokes talk about not liking nonsmokers by and large.  She said that they tend to be judgmental and unaccepting of a smoker's choice to do so.  She said it is like the nons view themselves as superior to smokers. 

I got to thinking about your post when she said this and then I got to thinking about how other people view my food choices.  I am vegan.  My kids are vegan at home and I don't say much about what they do outside of the house.  They are all old enough to make their own decisions.  My oldest girl will be vegan if she feels like it.  My next one will not be vegan outside of the house and no amount of talking or lecturing will change this.  My next one down doesn't mind vegan at home, will eat a packed a lunch that is vegan and seems not to care too much about anything to do with food.  The youngest is a vegan and she is fairly outspoken about it.

We have family we spend a fair amount of time with.  There are comments about my wanting to be superior and different by being vegan (it is a health choice for me) and that somehow by not eating flesh foods I am automatically critical of those who do.  I don't expect them to accommodate me at a meal, I will bring my own for my youngest and myself, not a problem.  They expect ME to accommodate THEM and cook flesh if they come to my house for a meal!  I don't and they just have to accept it, it isn't going to happen here.

I wonder if your dad is feeling that you are trying to be superior to him.  I wonder if he feels inferior that you won't eat flesh with him.  By being depressed (aka pouting) that you don't eat what he eats, he is being manipulative, as I think I said in my post above.  He is trying to make you feel guilty, obviously.  I don't know, I am a different sort of parent.  I hate to hear of parents who try to make every choice for their children long past the time when this appropriate.  My youngest is 10.  She can't choose her bedtime, but she does make her own dietary choices, her clothing, her hairstyle and the awful color of her fingernails.  My oldest daughter is 17, nearly 18.  I almost never say anything to her about her choices as I consider that my job as a parent is pretty well done. 

I am glad I can't talk directly to your father, I'd have some choice (think harsh) words for him.  Parents aren't supposed to hinder their children, they are supposed to nurture them and to progressively let go of their parental power.  I am well aware with 6 kids that there comes a time to let go and to consider that you have done all you can to shape their lives, but now it is down to them. 

Of note, I think my 17 y/o daughter is pretty awesome.  She will be valedictorian of her class in the spring and has a full ride scholarship already in the bag.  She wears a little too much makeup for my taste, but is very directed and straight laced.

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