5 Tips For Coming Out To Your Parents This Christmas
Everyone knows that university exposes you to new people and new ideas which can change the way you see the world, or just help you find yourself. But once the Christmas break rolls around, it can prove tricky to communicate these new revelations with your parents. That’s why we’ve come up with these handy-dandy tips to help you say ‘mum, dad: I’m vegan.’
1. Tell your parents about a friend who is vegan to gauge their reaction
Before coming out, it’s helpful to know how your parents feel about vegans in general. You might already know a little about this (maybe you have a vegan cousin). If not, make a causal remark about a new vegan friend or classmate. Who knows? You might find out your parents are super supportive allies to the community. In any case, make sure you get a good idea of the situation now. If you don’t already know their thoughts on this alternative lifestyle, you run the risk of being told just how thankful your parents are to have a child with ‘traditional’ values.
2. Come out as vegetarian first
It’s not unusual to try out different labels, and it’s important to remember that this doesn’t make your identity any less valid. Vegetarianism often seems more acceptable to the wider world, so it can be a helpful stepping stone both to discovering veganism yourself and to helping others come around to your way of thinking. However, this has its own downsides. Vegetarians often face resistance not only from outside of the vegan community, but also from certain individuals within it, who believe vegetarians should just ‘pick a side’. Keep in mind that, no matter what, you should never have to pretend to be something you’re not.
3. Come out in the car.
The setting of your coming out story is important. Here’s why we think the car can be an ideal spot:
Coming out in a confined space means that there is nowhere to go for either party. This might seem daunting, but it will force the conversation to progress and ensures that what is said can’t be ignored. It’s also especially handy that you needn’t make eye contact with your parents, and you can each gaze out the window at nothing; them finally processing that their innocent baby is growing up, and you wondering if you will ever be able to talk to them about food in a normal way again.
DISCLAIMER: if you have an inkling that they may react with any amount of shock or confusion, the car poses a few obvious risks. This is why it’s good to start with Tip 1.
4. Wait until you have ‘proof’.
If you’re not in a hurry, you can wait to come out when the time is right; perhaps at a family meal where you can bring your vegan food along and start the conversation this way. Nothing ambiguous though. They need real proof, like tofu, or a cauliflower crusted pizza. This might work for you if you are worried about being taken seriously when you come out, since it will prove that you’re not just ‘vegan until graduation’ and will ward off any comments telling you its ‘just a phase’. We recommend being careful with this scenario; you don’t want to make your family feel cornered or defensive. Sit your family down first, introduce them to your dish and make it clear that you are open to questions.
5. Don’t come out at all.
Coming out isn’t always necessary or possible for everyone. This doesn’t make you any less of a vegan. Everybody’s journey is different, and you might find that the best course of action for you is to allow your parents to work it out for themselves. For some parents, though, no amount of Alpro cartons or nutritional yeast will lead them to make the connection by themselves. This is why our list is by no means a ‘one-size-fits-all’. We do hope, however, that we inspired you to be who you are and eat your vegan cheese with pride.
Our final piece of advice for all you baby vegans is to live your truth and never be ashamed of who you are. If after reading you’re still struggling to imagine how you could ever break your new lifestyle to your parents, maybe just send them a link to this article…
Written by Kirsty Gilmour and Ellie Moffat, your unofficial queer vegan mentors.