I suggested that she should take it slow, in small steps, and not cut out everything all at once. To help, we have bought and browsed through vegan cookbooks. If nothing else, I will probably end up becoming vegan myself, but I really want my daughter to follow through on this. Any advice?
It is refreshing and encouraging that you are so supportive of your daughter’s decision to become vegan, and that she has even inspired you to explore veganism for yourself! Although her motivation to become vegan may, on the surface, seem impulsive and superficial, it's possible she has considered the profound underlying issues, as well as the ramifications of such a major, life-empowering choice. Have you asked her about this? Even if she hasn't taken any deeper concerns into account, teenagers go through countless “phases” and try on many hats until they find the ones that fit them comfortably. Exploring various lifestyles is how we learn about ourselves; it’s a natural part of maturation that can continue throughout our lives, if we’re lucky. Who we are today will not be who we are tomorrow, if we keep an open mind, heart, and intellect. And that’s a good thing, for both teenagers and adults.
Even if your daughter were to become vegan now and abandon that decision later, what would be lost? There would certainly be no harm done, and more than likely, there would be many positive consequences. Whether temporary or permanent, being vegan could be an adventure and a learning experience that could influence her in countless positive ways, such as improved health, greater self-confidence, heightened awareness, deeper compassion for animals and other people, an expanded sense of value and purpose, and a broader perspective of global and environmental concerns.
Although it's tempting and often wise for parents to advise teens to take things slowly in certain areas of life, when it comes to issues of ethics, morality, and health, why compromise? Young vegans are typically prompted by passionate principles and beliefs, and, like most teens, frequently see their values in terms of black and white, without any gray areas. Consequently, they may interpret “going slowly” as being disingenuous or hypocritical.
From a practical standpoint, being vegan may seem difficult to parents. It entails unlearning many “facts” about nutrition that most people just assume are true, buying and preparing unfamiliar foods, trying out new recipes (often with varying levels of success), coping with the reactions of other family members and friends, and exploring alternative products, clothing, and even shoes. It can be expensive, confusing, and overwhelming. For all these reasons, it's important for you and your daughter to jointly examine her rationale for becoming vegan (including her crush) and discuss the myriad ramifications — not to dissuade her, but to bring any lofty ideals down to earth where you can both figure out how to put them into practice. Together you can prioritize what is most important and determine where to begin. You can share the joys of reading about vegan nutrition and meal planning and have fun checking out vegan products and retailers. It can be an opportunity to draw your daughter even closer to you. However, pushing her in one direction or the other could have the opposite effect and cause her to rebel.
If your daughter hasn't done much cooking yet, this could be a great time to spark her interest in it and develop her self-sufficiency in this area. Doing so might also relieve some of the kitchen burdens for the current “cook and bottle washer" in your household.
If your daughter doesn’t stick with being vegan, that’s okay. Her curiosity ignited your interest, and in turn, that may open doors to exciting avenues for improved health and nutrition for you and your family. So regardless of whether your daughter’s crush or the rock band’s fame are fleeting, the long-term impact of her vegan exploration will be constructive and worthwhile.