difficulties of being vegan: advice needed!

Hi! Im 17 years old and became a vegan a month and a half ago and I actually really love it. I did it for a healthier life style and because I had horrible stomach pains all the time after pretty much everything i ate. Although I have always eaten healthy, because my mom is a nutritionist, this plant based diet has helped my digestion system a ton. It has been getting difficult lately though (not because I’m craving meat) but because I feel like I am constantly being brought down by friends, family, and society. No other high school senior understands that I just want to nourish my body. All of my friends look at me like I’m crazy. When i say i cant have a salad with chicken they say well its healthy just have it. Its not about just healthy! Its about all the benefits of a plant based diet. When I go out to restaurants I usually cant eat what is being served which is frustrating. My father and I used to go out to dinner once a week but now that im vegan i dont enjoy going to restaurants because I hate drawing attention to myself when I dont want anything on the menu. When I tell people I am vegan they get so confused and dont understand why I would choose this lifestlye. Its really exausting having to always explain myself. Our society has made it perfectly normal for every teenage girl to be on a “diet” and stay away from carbs but its considered crazy and extreme to go vegan and be healthy?! im getting frustrated and tired… I just need some posative support and don’t know anyone else personally who is vegan. I also eat gluten free which makes me the pickiest eater on the planet… I hate to be so picky and get embarrassed not being able to eat out. I am also going on vacation in a week where i wont be able to cook. Should I just stop being vegan? I dont know what to do so any support would be greatly appreciated! :slight_smile: xoxo <3

My heart goes out to you, and I can understand the pressures that a teenager goes through in this day and age. I think being part of a vegan forum like this will definitely help you stay encouraged. Also, you should check to see if there are any vegan meetup groups meeting in your area. I don’t know if there are any age restrictions, but it doesn’t hurt to check it out and see. You know your body and you know what your body can handle, and your health is what’s important. Continue to educate yourself about veganism and pass on that knowledge to others so that they may begin to understand where you are coming from. Lastly, I have found that a lot of restaurants are becoming more and more accommodating to people with dietary restrictions. I know that you are frustrated, but continue to push forward and surround yourself with like minded people (find a vegan support system).

Hi Juliah - I am the mother of a 17 year old vegan who began being vegan in January of this year. Her grandmother, who she loved dearly, died of pancreatic cancer in December 2012 and she swore off meat, cheese, eggs, milk, honey, etc. after that. I was initially against it, but after consulting her pediatrician, I let her go for it. I made her research high protein non meat foods and I began to purchase them for her. We learned about seitan and other meat alternatives. She always loved veggies, so that was never a problem. Cooking for her, and tasting the food while I did it, I became vegan myself in May of this year. This is after 53 years of being a definite carnivore.

Anyway, one of her biggest problems is her friends at school and other places. Though she has begun to navigate the vegan world very well, it does require pre-planning and preparation. For example, she never goes to kid based activities hungry since pizza, subs, etc are the usual standard fare. She will cut up fruit, take a peanut butter sandwich or something else to eat. Sometimes we will stop and get something to eat and take with us. If you prepare ahead of time, then you don’t have to stand out to your friends.

She had her 17 birthday party at a restaurant that served both vegan and non-vegan foods. Her chocolate birthday cake was vegan and her friends loved it.

She always researches a restaurant (whether it is a fancy sit down restaurant or a fast food place like Panera) before we go so she knows what she can and cannot order. There are apps and websites that you can use. That way, she does not have to play 20 questions when she gets there, she already knows what to order. One day we went to Olive Garden and she wanted to know what she could eat. The chef actually came out with the ingredient board (all restaurants have one) which showed which items had egg, milk, peanuts, gluten, etc. He was happy to help her figure out something to eat. Use your phone and download the apps. She is always checking items against what she has loaded.

I am saying all of this to let you know that I am proud of you for making this choice and you should stick to it. I am happy that my child forced both of us down this path. I feel so much better and actually at this point don’t miss meat much at all. We even made it through Memorial Day meat free.

Good luck.