In the early days of my vegetarianism, I wasn’t always the confident person I am now. I was shy and I would allow people to talk negatively about my lifestyle choice for the reason of avoiding an argument about their ignorance.
During my freshman year in high school in the summer of 1997, I made the choice to become vegetarian. I did this gradually at first, and then completely phased out all meat from my diet.
Being highly allergic to shellfish with the allergy progressing as I got older, becoming vegetarian seemed to be a very rational choice for me. What had finally motivated me completely was when I learned about the ethical issues associated with consuming animal products.
Making the choice to become vegetarian was one of the easiest decisions I have ever made. At the time of my conversion though, there wasn’t much information out there; convincing my parents that I wasn’t going to die from the “lack of nutrition” was a challenge.
I come from an Italian family that eats basically a Mediterranean diet. I was always very picky with everything I ate, especially when it came to meat, which I barely consumed anyway. I later realized my parents disapproval was never just about me not liking the taste and texture of all animal products, but that they did not understand that going vegetarian was a liberating experience.
It took my parents three years to stop bugging me to eat meat. It did not help that they were raised in a society that taught that you couldn’t be healthy unless you consumed animal products.
At first, it was like pulling teeth. But as time went by, they began to accept my choice and started eating healthier themselves.
Fourteen years after making the choice to go vegetarian, I decided to become vegan after researching how dairy affects the body. The switch was also due to health reasons; I inherited high cholesterol and had been dealing with severe sinus problems, and being vegan solved both of those health issues for me. To be honest, I wish I would have done it sooner.
I have learned over the years that patience is a virtue. You can’t force someone into doing something they are not ready to do, but you can give them reading materials that will help them along the way. Just give it time.
Although my family still eats meat, they eat a lot healthier now because of the choice I made. When I am home or going out to eat with my mother, she eats only vegan foods.
The easiest way to survive being vegan around omnivores is to never be afraid to speak up for what you believe in. As long as you know who you are, who cares what anyone else thinks?
Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/lafattina