View Full Version : Help! Thanksgiving with non-vegans
My gf and her little daughter are planning to go to her family for thanksgiving. They will be serving the traditional meal, and although they adjusted well to her vegetarianism, they are not pleased that she is now vegan. I won't be there with her, and she is worried about offending them, etc. (If we both remain on the outs with our family, it'll be a lonely wedding!!) Her main concern is with her mother offering foods to Elly that Elly used to eat, and then having to try to defuse arguments etc without hurting anyone's feelings or compromising her principles. How do you all stop the anti-veganism arguments before they start?
11-25-2002, 06:04 PM
Here are a couple of things I can think of offhand. I'm sure others will have advice too:
I would call "mom" and say, "We're really looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with the family. Since we're vegan now, I thought I should find out if in advance if anything you're serving is going to be vegan. If not, I'll just bring some food for me and Elly because I don't want to put you to any trouble."
If she's comfortable, I would follow up with, "I know you guys like to offer Elly food, especially your fantastic cooking, but it would mean a great deal to me if you guys would refrain from flaunting the meat and dairy foods in her face. I wouldn't want her to feel bad. Does that sound like a plan?"
Obviously, I don't know her relationship with her mom, and there are so many different comfort levels when dealing with family. I would just tell her to tell the family in advance what she wants and expects, and hope they comply. If it gets really uncomfortable, she should be prepared to leave.
Be sure to let us know how it went!
Hello and thanks! This is actually Shannon (Will's s.o.). I'm new to this so it is hard to 'defend myself' but I think things should go ok. My parents are pretty cool folks, but they just think my food choices are 'weird'. I just wish Will was coming -- he knows more about it than me and he is so softspoken and calm. I have a terrible temper, lol! Anyways, thanks for the advice!
11-26-2002, 07:21 AM
It took my husband and myself about 3 years to be able to stop "defending" and start ignoring. We just do things our way and to heck with what they think of us or our ways. We know that our ways are the more compassionate choice.
We used to get a lot of "ribbing" and it was great being able to lean on each other for support.
Let us know what happens. Happy Thanksgiving!
12-01-2002, 07:04 PM
All that worrying for nothing! The only questions I got were why Will didn't come, when were we getting married, and how soon were we going to have a baby!!!! I was so happy at how well they took the veganism, I didn't even fuss at those questions (normally I'd pitch a fit!!) They did ask was I sure Elly would get enough protein, but they ask that all the time! My mom loves to cook, so Elly and I had plenty to eat even though only maybe 1/4 of it was vegan!! My baby brother even mentioned that he might like to start "eating vegetarian a couple days a week" Well, ya gotta start somewhere, right? Hope everyone's thanksgiving was as nice as mine!
Soooooooooo, when are we getting married? ;) xo
12-02-2002, 06:15 AM
I'm so glad things went okay.
It always gets better with time, when family sees they can't talk you out of it and when your health far exceeds theirs. You'll start looking younger and younger while people your age look older. At least, that is what is happening to me.
12-02-2002, 10:18 AM
This was my first Thanksgiving as a vegan. The family could deal with me being a vegetarian for 6 years, but they didn't seem too happy about me being a vegan this year. One of my aunts said, "WHY on EARTH would you do that?? NO, i'm serious. Explain why you would ever want to do that!" This was in front of all the other family members. I was shocked and said, "I don't want to fight about this on Thanksgiving." She said, "fine". (meanwhile she places some deep fried turkey on her plate that had it's guts removed and bread crumbs stuffed up in it)
Also, at a birthday party a few days later (also serving thanksgiving food), my Sister-in-law's brother's wife (who BARELY knows me) said, "You need to cut down on Carbs! I talked to my boss about it."
GRRR. She's seen me eat two meals EVER.
Anyways, I've decided to bring a fact sheet to my Christmas dinner. If anyone gives me grief I'll tell them to see the flyer, and that my email address is on it if they feel they need to argue or say mean things to me. This may cause conflict, but I think it'll be fun :)
12-02-2002, 11:12 AM
You're where I was years ago. Here's what I learned about family and veganism: They tend not to mix.
Anyone reading whose family is very supportive, great! This doesn't apply. But if your family gets upset, asks you questions in front of everyone, seems shocked, annoyed, insulted, or incredulous... watch out. They are exhibiting fear energy. You don't have to respond to these outburts of fear.
If someone comes at you with fear energy, you could try to deflect it back at them without taking it into yourself. You shouldn't have to defend your choice.
Here's what I might say:
"Boy, I didn't expect your reaction. It seems to be upsetting to you that I'm choosing not to eat animal products. Why do you think that is?"
But do you see what I'm saying? You'll never "win" when you respond to their questions. People who are that afraid are often threatened by your growth. It's hard to accept, but I'll bet a lot of vegans go through this... their family just can't accept that you've made a conscious choice about something they don't see as wrong (or at least can't admit to themselves that it's wrong to eat animals).
Know what I mean?
So bring your list if you want, but trust me... they won't hear you if they are afraid. If someone genuinely wants to know why you made the decision, tell them.
Also, if they badger you or push you to answer questions that come from their own fear, simply say, "You know... I don't think I really want to discuss this topic with you. Would you mind if we changed the subject?" If they pursue, say the same thing over and over again until they stop. Don't answer their questions if they are coming from a place of fear.
This is from years of trying to "defend" my diet, my choice, my lifestyle to people who just aren't aware enough to understand. I save my breath now.
Or, you could always turn it around on them. "Why on EARTH would you choose to eat rotting flesh? No, I'm serious. Why would you ever choose to do that?"
Then be prepared for an onslaught of negative energy the likes of which you can't even imagine. But it's a valid question, no?
12-03-2002, 07:57 AM
You're right. I don't need to defend myself. The good answers just make them more defensive and mean about it. It's just shocking to me that they're acting this way. I'm sure next year I'll be used to it. I really don't mind when people say things like, "oh. But where do you get your calcium?" It may be annoying because we hear it ALL the time, but at least it's them wanting to make sure you'll be ok. Once you tell them where, they normally say, "oh, cool. I didn't know vegetables had calcium in them." I'd rather people respond like that than try to embarass you.
All well. Maybe Christmas will be better :)
12-05-2002, 03:37 AM
I just wanted to add that Carol J. Adams's book "Living with Meat-Eaters: A Vegetarian Survival Guide" is really quite helpful with ideas for dealing with family and friends. I think I would have done what you did, C., in saying, "I don't want to fight about that at Thanksgiving". One of the things I learned from the Adams book and other experiences is that I'm quite entitled to say, "I don't want to discuss that while we are all eating together". Why should the pressure about food always be put on the vegan at shared meals? We rarely get to eat in peace, the way meat-eaters do (socially, I mean -- conscience probably still troubles many!)
Family eventually gets used to it. Sometimes there are one or two people who will never let it go, but they may be the ones closest to the edge of giving up meat, since they seem so interested... :)
12-06-2002, 07:43 PM
Erin is right: whenever someone asks me any kind of rude question or something that is none of their business (which happens quite often it seems) I've learned to ASK A QUESTION in response. I often ignore what they asked me and ask "Why did you want to know?" or some other kind of question to get them off track.
I think often people are defensive around those who are vegan because they KNOW what they are doing (eating meat, etc) is gross and not right--deep down they know they should be doing the same thing and so they are most obnoxious or rude to others who are vegan.
I appreciate Erins ideas on how to handle rude people and also the other suggestions from people. Thanks for sharing.
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