When I turned vegetarian at 16 years old, I received a lot of questions – most commonly, “why are you doing this?” and “how will you survive?”.
As I entered my early 20’s, when people found out I was vegetarian, they would look at me like I was nutritionally deficient. “Where do you get your protein from?” they would ask. I would relay how soy, lentils, quinoa, brown rice, nuts and protein shakes were part of my daily regimen but they never looked convinced that the diet I was on was “right”. I was even told to “be careful” a few times.
Judgment follows me even more now that I am predominantly vegan. “Are you at least taking a calcium supplement?” I am asked. (Yes I do take a calcium supplement. Need I mention that almond milk has the same amount of calcium as regular milk and that dark, green, leafy vegetables are really high in calcium?) “Don’t you miss cheese?” is another question they ask. When I talk about cashew cheese they look at me like I’m an alien.
There’s also the “why are you doing this, you are so young” comment, which I find hilarious. You’re never too young to make decisions for the betterment of your health!
So here are my tips for handling all the dietary judgment you may get:
Don’t Care What People Say – Stay Authentic to Yourself
Who cares what other people think? You know what’s right for you, including your diet. Everyone’s bodies are unique. Some people can’t handle sugar, some people can’t handle caffeine, and some people need meat. There’s no “right” diet (aside from avoiding the junk we all know about). If you want to make sure that your diet is right for you, work with the proper professionals and get the right tests done to ensure that your diet is providing you with the nutrition you need. Once you have medical tests that illustrate your diet is working and you start to feel better, you can have the confidence that you’ve made the right choice for yourself.
Don’t Yield to Social Pressure
If someone stops inviting you out because you don’t want to have a sugary cocktail or fried food, I say good riddance! You should be surrounded by people who love and accept you for who you are. I am incredibly fortunate to have friends that are open to trying out vegan restaurants or taking me to places where there are enough vegan options. It’s awesome! They also still invite me out to keep them company, even if it is at a place where I don’t want a lot of the food. Good conversation & fun doesn’t need junk in your system!
Challenge the Stereotype that Healthy is Not Yummy
Bring healthy foods/snacks/desserts into school or work to let your friends or coworkers try out foods that are tasty and healthy. You won’t seem as much of an alien to them once they understand the kind of food you eat (and in most cases, they’ll love it as much as you do!)
Enjoy your healthy diet and stay true to yourself! 🙂