It is week 3 of our Plant-Strong™ Summer Kids Series!
Download our easy-to-print PDF here: PlantStrongKidsWeek3!
Today we thought we would ask some of the plant-strong teens in our community their advice on how to help teens go plant-strong and how parents can support their decision to go healthy.
First question: If you are in a household where you do not get support from one or all of your family members, what do you wish they would do? How could they support you?
What would you tell someone in that situation if their parents/siblings/family in the house were giving them a hard time?
“I am currently in a household where I am the only one who wants to be plant strong. My parents and sister are very skeptical about it and sometimes it causes tension. I don’t expect them to change with me but their support would be appreciated. It gets a little better everyday, less eye rolls at meals and even some appreciation when I make them a kick butt plant strong meal I think it will continue to get better when I leave for college because I will be able to make more choices on my own. It’s always good to stay true to yourself and know why you want to be plant strong when your family is giving you a hard time. If you have a strong passion for this it easily outweighs the grief you might get. It also helps when there are groups like Engine 2 Diet who are so motivated into helping you stay plant strong. Just continue to be kind and compassionate to everyone and your voice will be heard.”
“Right now I’m eating breakfast. Across from me my family eats donuts. Being plant strong is really tough, but the temptation of having junk food at your fingertips is what can really make is a challenge. I have my own cabinet in the kitchen where I store my plant strong foods. I recommend that teens wanting to go plant strong that have family members that are carnivores should have a special place to put their stuff.”
“My sister is very unsupportive of me. I sometimes just wish she would lay off! It’s not like I’m hurting her! I mean seriously, she acts like my efforts to have a healthier life style kill her. She keeps telling me how dumb it is. Sometimes, even my friends are unsupportive of me. Lots of people seem irritated about vegetarianism, veganism, and having a plant based diet because they don’t want to think, to know that their diet could potentially kill them. If your family is unsupportive of you, try talking to them about it and tell them about some of the pluses of being plant based. Give them an article or two to read about being plant based. If they are worried about you not getting all of the nutrients you need, remind them of some of the foods you are eating that give you all the vitamins and minerals that you need. If they’re still skeptical, have them contact your doctor or a professional dietician about your health. Most of all, treat them the way you want to be treated. Do not criticize their eating habits continuously if you wouldn’t want them to make fun of what you’re eating. You could give them little tips and reminders, but remember to be polite and positive. And btw, humans aren’t carnivorous. They eat plants too. Dinosaurs were called carnivores because they ate only meat.”
“Most families are just worried about you. They’re ignorant of what veganism is and what benefits there are to it. Plus, especially in my house, your parent(s) may not think it’s “right” in their mind. Also if you don’t cook for yourself it kinda adds a lil more work to whoever cooks. It’s best to hear each other out, if everybody’s willing. When I went to VegFest in Austin a few months ago, my dad (he came with me) and I talked about it on the drive there, and he’s chill with it. My mom though doesn’t seem to want to know anything about it, so if she wants to stay ignorant, then that’s her choice. Most adults I’ve talked about it to usually think it’s cool, of course they poke fun at me and stuff, which most of the time requires strong reassurance on my part, but other than that, you should really sit down and talk about it, and make your opinions and choices you want to make clear.”
“I would tell them to give them a budget so they can shop for their own food. I was an overweight teenager, and got healthy all on my own, I had to work a part-time job to pay for my own food. I would tell kids whose parents won’t support them that if it is important, find a way to make it work, and get educated about it.”
“Sit down with your family, tell them that you are going to changing the way you eat, and you won’t try to change the way they eat if they don’t do the same to you. That’s what I did. I also agreed to talk to my Doctor about it and she was 100% supportive!”
Next question: What would you tell parents who want to get their family plant-strong – specifically folks that are your age? Is there something they should absolutely not do?
“well what my mom did with my sister and i was she start making stuff healthier with more vegetables and not alot of dairy. as time went on she started cutting meat and dairy out completely”
“I would say to make it fun and get the family involved. As you know, there are SO many options and ways to have fun and experiment with plant foods, so I would say to think about the diet change as a fun adventure, rather than as depriving themselves of old (unhealthy) foods.”
“I would say get to not to jump right into it. Most teens hate change, especially drastic diet changes-trust me, I know. Working it slowly into your families daily diet would be easiest. Also, looking at food blogs and facts about veganism, that way the kids, will know what their parents are wanting to do. And just talking about it before you start it, the kids will appreciate it if they talk about doubts and myths and such.”
“In my case, I was the one who first got interested in a whole-foods plant-based diet (WFPBD) and shared the information with my parents. Eventually they have become somewhat plant-strong as well. So I personally think education is huge! If the parents take the time to explain the health and environmental and ethical benefits of being plant-strong, then I believe the kids will be more receptive and excited about the change. There are several great eye-opening documentaries and books available that can be shared with the family. Some people can go plant-strong ‘cold turkey’ but I think starting small would probably be best. I love grocery shopping and finding recipes and blogs online. Get the kids involved in every step of meal planning. Go to farmers markets. Visit farms where you can pick your own produce. Get them on Facebook with us =)”
“My parents showed me Dr. McDougall videos and then my sister and I came to them to say we wanted to do it. That worked for us, I’m not sure if it’ll work for you? I guess it’d just be important to show them the facts and show them how delicious vegan food is. One thing I wouldn’t do would be to give them dairy substitutes (like soy cream) for a long while, because it’ll taste reeeeeally weird if you’re still used to real dairy and could turn them off. I’d point out the impact non-plant foods have on their health, and then the impacts on the environment– so that way they will know they’re not just helping themselves, but the world. While teenagers aren’t always too concerned about their own health, they’re pretty active activists, right? :)”
“Don’t force it! Just start buying and making some new things, but if you force it most teens are going to hate you for it, my Mom and Dad were both overweight and sick and they started making changes, at first I was mad because they were making me change even though I am not overweight or sick. Then they gave me a copy of Engine 2 because they said it was important that I knew how they got overweight and sick. I’m not always 100% plant-strong, but it helped me understand, and I want them to be healthy, because I love them.”
“Do it as a family, and don’t say you are going to do it and then change your mind later. Also, let us do some of the cooking and meal planning.”
Thank you to our amazing plant-strong teens!