It’s becoming more and more common to find teenagers willing to become vegans. It’s great to know that the younger generations are embracing compassion and will transmit those values to their offspring one day. Yet, teenagers often face big obstacles when transitioning from omnivore to vegan: they have no jobs and depend on their parents who often say “While you live under my roof, you must obey my rules.” Many teens feel they cannot afford to be vegan because their parents will not buy them vegan food on top of the weekly groceries which already add to the high food bills. While we know that vegetables are cheaper than meat and fish, we also know that many parents will refuse to buy tofu, seitan or tempeh when there is meat and fish at home. And, unfortunately, vegetable milks are still more expensive than dairy milk (at least in my area).
What can teenagers do when they depend on their parents to feed them? Here are a few tips:
1. First of all, don’t be too hard on yourself! You are trying to do the best you can with the resources you have available. That IS a very important step already. Even if, for now, you only give up on meat but keep the rest in your diet, you ARE already making a difference.
2. Offer to help with the house chores. Many parents complain that their children will not help at home. Yet, they are also willing to reward them when they do. Discuss a plan with your parents where you will wash the dishes or do your own laundry in exchange of food or money to buy it. But stick to it! It must be a win-win situation.
3. Set priorities. Do you get pocket money? A school allowance? Any other form of “income” to spend as you wish? I know the amount is likely not to be high but instead of spending it on that new T-shirt that you might not really need now, why not save it for your food? Who knows, you might even earn your parents’ respect if they see your commitment.
4. Help to cook. If some parents are not willing to buy vegetable meats, it’s even more unlikely that they will agree to cook your food because it’s an extra meal and extra work. Well, cook your food then. Not only you will be showing responsibility, you can also use that time to educate your parents on veganism and why it is so important to you. Most of the time you will only have to fry a vegan schnitzel as the existing side dishes are already vegan. Who knows, maybe they will join you one day!
5. Communication is key. Your parents probably think it’s just a phase and that sooner or later you will go back to your omnivore habits. Tell them that veganism is important to you and explain why. You can even decide with your parents on one or two specific days in the week when nobody will eat meat, but vegan food. This will make them buy less meat and therefore save for tofu. And they will also save money if, instead of buying you a pair of leather shoes, they actually buy man-made. After all, veganism is not just about food.
Remember that your parents care about you and their resistance to buying you vegan food might actually come more from the fact that they fear you may lack nutrients, rather than from the cost itself. And if all else fails, once again remember that you are trying your best and probably will not be able to go entirely vegan before you earn your own money. But every step counts. And it takes courage to take steps like these at your age because we all know how you want to belong and be part of a group. It takes courage to leave your comfort zone to start facing mockery, discrimination and even aggressiveness from peers. Congratulations for standing up for what you believe in! Just take it seriously within your possibilities and you will see that sooner than later you will get the help and respect you need and deserve.
About the author: I’m a Portuguese Copywriter and I love blogging about absolutely anything interesting that comes into my mind. I’m passionate about veganism and I hope my entries are inspiring.