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JUDITHMYHILL's Photo JUDITHMYHILL Posts: 21
5/10/09 6:26 P

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My family only occasionally teases (but they understand the benefits so I know this is light hearted). We have won people over by providing tasty food. At our wedding my brother in law, a true meat eater, was truly astounded by the food.

The people who I worked with also used to say I needed some meat because I was weak (I was only size 10 and 5ft8). After I had had my child he apologised when he found out she was 10pound 3 ounces when she was born!

My daughter (9yrs) has been teased at school. Was told she was a 'stupid vegetarian' by one boy. Then two weeks later scored higher on a test and told me that see, he's more stupid and he eats meat!

I think that if you don't bang on about your choices (and theirs), they eventually see the benefits that your lifestyle brings and that you are happy and content. Here in the UK peoples attitudes have generally become more open towards Vegetarians (although Vegans do have a harder time). With vegetarian food more readily available and mainstream (Linda McCartney and Quorn have helped)

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CLEOTHEMUSE's Photo CLEOTHEMUSE Posts: 36
5/7/09 12:09 P

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My family are "chronic teasers." We tease each other about everything. They have teased me about being the left-wing nut job vegetarian radical feminist for 20 years now. I tease them about being right-wing dead-animal-eating tools of the corporate machine. We all love each other...and the snide comments are always good for a laugh.

They love my cooking. They will wolf down my vegetarian meals practically licking the platters clean. So, I figure that's the best way to get through to them. Provide yummy, healthy options at family meals. That way they can see that every dish doesn't have to have a dead critter in it to be enjoyable.

Habit is habit and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.



Mark Twain


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CD4165167 Posts: 37
5/7/09 10:48 A

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Tribekah, that's a great way to put a person in their place without stooping to their level and making comments about their eating habits -- I never thought of approaching it that way before! Thanks for the great tip... I can just imagine how some rude person will react after making some snarky comment when I say, "That was a very forward comment/question. Is there a point you're trying to make?" Ha ha ha...love it.

TRIBEKAH's Photo TRIBEKAH Posts: 511
5/6/09 9:35 P

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we say things like its an allergy that stops us from eating dairy or egg products. Yes the old 'we can't have a cat cuz mommy's allergic' lie

meat is a little trickier tho, basically I feel no one in my family questions our choices although we do not see extended family more than once every 8 yrs or so. we live quite far from one another.

ppl that are friends or that we see socially do question choices.
My friend (good friend) said "I just can't eat all the salad and greens, I don't want 3 lbs of vegetables" this was her answer when she mentioned portion control, to which I said "its not about portion its about poison control" which is what I believe.

I often think of asking a just as blunt or rude question right back.
Instead I just say "that was a very forward question, do you have a point you are trying to make?" generally that shuts them up.


what lies before us
and
what lies behind us
are small matters compared to what lies within us


Good judgement comes from experience, experience comes from bad judgement.
MERRYROSE's Photo MERRYROSE Posts: 1
5/6/09 9:15 P

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One of the main reasons why people tease is because they are ignorant or they just feel threatened. When people pick on me (which doesn't happen too often) I just ask them if they really know what goes on at factory farms, do they realize how many antibiotics and hormones are being pumped into their bodies by eating meat, and that eating meat is the leading cause of global warming, cancers, and diseases. These types of people need to be put in their place so make sure you stick up for yourself. Think of all the reasons why you're a vegetarian. You don't want to cause an innocent animal any suffering, or maybe you don't like the taste. You want to be healthy and live a more environmentally friendly life style.
I recommend that everyone read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. It's a fascinating book and is the catalyst that made me turn vegan after several years as a vegetarian (Both of which I never thought I'd be!)

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SLIMVIXEN's Photo SLIMVIXEN Posts: 118
5/6/09 7:34 P

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It's really great to read everyone's experiences, insights and thoughts. Thanks so much for sharing, and I'm going to copy and paste this thread somewhere so that I can refer back to it and reflect during those more difficult moments (which I hope are fewer and farther in between) where I just can't seem to let other's words and attitudes not affect me as much as they have in the past.

Thanks so much again. You all are wonderful.

- Mel

"Every day, I become more the person I've always been. Every day, I am astounded by the discovery of me."


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SEXYONE4's Photo SEXYONE4 SparkPoints: (26,705)
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5/6/09 1:20 P

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People ususally react surprised when I mention that I am a veggie. Then they go on to say they don't see how I can go without meat and then they talk about how much they love meat. Sometimes they just look dumbfounded and ask why. I usually tell them, but if they start ranting about how crazy I am I tell them that you don't see veggies asking meat eaters to defend themselves (unless they're PETA or something).

God before everything. Peace above anything.


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SONICDISH's Photo SONICDISH Posts: 134
5/6/09 12:27 P

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Every time I go home and eat with my family I am criticized. Usually it comes from my mom. I always tell her that she should get used to how I eat (I have been vegan for 2.5 years and vegetarian for several years before that). And it's pretty obvious that I am getting enough to eat (I am on Spark after all...). I just ignore it. I know people get sensitive about their own eating habits and react by being rude. Most people I encounter are interested in what I eat.

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5/5/09 10:06 P

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Yeah, you do have to be careful at TexMex restaurants. The staff at good restaurants will be upfront with you on ingredients. They take this pretty seriously because some people ask questions related to food allergies. Corn tortillas should be safe but flour tortillas often have lard. Ask about chicken stock in rice and lard in the beans as well. If you think the waitstaff is BSing you about something being vegetarian ask them to double check with the kitchen.

CD4165167 Posts: 37
5/4/09 12:19 P

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Hi everyone - I've been a vegetarian, living in city whose nickname is Cowtown (actually) for 14 years. It's kind of ridiculous that people think it's acceptable to poke fun or ridicule people because of their eating habits, don't you think? I would say that says more about them than it does us! Anyways, when people do that super annoying "mmmm this hamburger is soooo delicious, ooooh dead cow yum yum," I like to stare at them like they're completely mental (because really? Grown people acting like that? Give me a break) and they usually realize what they're doing and back off. I'm lucky my family accepts me for who I am, though, so I don't have to deal with insensitive comments too often!

And NewComb, (the 2-month vegetarian) be careful when you go to restaurants, especially Mexican ones. I've stopped eating at Mexican restaurants altogether because they often cook their beans and rice in chicken broth, use lard for their tortillas and deep fry using lard as well. So even though it looks like your meal is vegetarian, it's often anything but! And also, never NEVER order soups at restaurants! I've worked in restaurants for years and have seen firsthand how servers will lie to people when they ask about whether the broth in soup is vegetarian or not. Trust me, unless you're at a vegetarian restaurant, it's chicken or beef broth.

Good luck with your journey -- and next time someone makes fun of you, poke them in the eye with a carrot stick. That'll learn 'em!

KARRIELYNN1 Posts: 1
5/4/09 10:15 A

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If someone is really interested in the reason for not eating meat (or animale products) then explaining your 'why' is acceptable. I've been a vegetarian for 20 years - when people 'ridicule' me I just ask them "Do I look like I'm deprived?" and if they really feel the need to keep it up I just tell them, "you are what you eat and I prefer the life force of vegggies and whole foods, not dead rotting flesh" that usually shuts them up.

ONEPERSON Posts: 239
5/3/09 6:10 P

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Most of the criticism I've gotten has been over the nutrition aspect - people acting concerned about my family's protein or calcium intake, or the adverse effects of soy. If I have time, I'll calmly explain why I'm not concerned about those things in a way that makes it clear that I've done my "homework". When I first went vegetarian at age 14, I could tolerate the nightly teasing from my immediate family around the dinner table. My brothers would claim to have secretly sneaked bits of meat into the other side dishes, or they'd draw happy faces in the mashed potatoes and say, "You can't eat that now, because it has a face!" I could laugh those comments off. It was when we got together with extended family that the jibes were tougher to handle. I didn't like having attention drawn to me like that, that feeling of being in the spotlight with everyone waiting to hear how I'd respond to Aunt Beth's wisecrack. Back then, I really wasn't equipped to explain my vegetarianism from a logical or scientific perspective in enough detail to impress an audience. I'm not even sure I had a full understanding yet of why I'd made that decision myself. It's only many years later, after a lot of practice and research and reflection, that I feel equipped to cope with whatever comments, questions, and jibes people throw at me.

Several others have mentioned the importance of not preaching veg*nism to others, and not being critical of THEIR choices. I know that the few times I've criticized others' dietary choices, I've later regretted it and wished I'd been more loving in my choice of words, or just kept my mouth shut. But other than that, what's served me best is becoming well-informed so that I'm prepared to respond when confronted with questions/concerns. And if the comment is so crude or stupid that a logical informed response seems out of place, and I can't come up with something quick and witty on the spot, then I laugh it off and say nothing. When people ridiculed Jesus, he turned the other cheek - I feel like that's a good example to follow if people are being just straight-up cruel and mean. As others have said, rude comments about another person's lifestyle choices are most often born of ignorance. If people are hostile, but we continue to show love in return, only good can come of it.

Good luck! I know how frustrating that is to feel like your family just won't leave you alone and let you enjoy a meal in peace! The longer you do this, the easier it becomes, I promise.
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HBGRANNY's Photo HBGRANNY Posts: 196
5/3/09 3:31 P

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There is only one person who I have to 'defend myself' from as far as my eating habits go...my DH.
I know that he is only concerned about my health, but that doesn't make a lot of sense to me since I have not been ill once since I changed the way I eat...It always causes a discussion in which I feel like I'm being interrogated, but I try to just give the information he asks for and stand my ground. I doubt that it will ever change.

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5/3/09 3:01 P

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Funny thing is that when I first became a vegetarian my dad used to joke all the time about it. He made fun of me constantly and at every meal he offered me meat and when I reminded him I was a vegetarian he would act suprised. Several times I caught him when he thought I was out of earshot bragging about how healthy I was eating and how he admired my dedication.

TRANQUILCHICK's Photo TRANQUILCHICK Posts: 5
5/3/09 2:55 P

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I'm a new vegetarian -- it's been about 2 months now. Before making the transition to vegetarian, about a year ago, I stopped eating processed foods, soft drinks, basically anything with artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. My colleagues at my part-time job thought I had gone crazy, but after seeing how much better I looked, they started asking me things like "what DO you drink"? (Answer: filtered water, tea that I make, coffee w/fat-free milk, juice). Some have even taken my challenge to stop drinking carbonated, highly sugared drinks.

I have not faced ridicule about being vegetarian (so far)... but a few people have asked "do you get enough protein? and things like that. I tell them I am happier that I am not eating animals anymore. That pretty much stops them in their tracks. I need to add that I am 59, so I don't care so much what other people think, like I did when I was younger. I had lunch with my mother, brother, and sister recently, and my mother chose a "meat and three" diner. They offered a vegetable plate, which I ordered. The first time I "officially" proclaimed myself vegetarian was when my sister and I went to a Mexican restaurant. I asked if they could substitute beans for the beef in the tacos and the waiter was perplexed at first. I simply said "soy vegetariana" and he got it. He suggested the perfect substitutions for me. No fuss, no muss.

I have a snappy comeback for people who just don't "get it". I tell them I have not decided not to anything that has a face. (I don't know where I heard that, but it's great.)



MOONGODDESSWHM Posts: 1
5/3/09 11:20 A

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When I first decided to become vegetarian at age 13, my parents constantly tried to get me to eat meat. "Just a few bites?" or "This is sooo good, don't you want some?" would be things I heard often. But I stuck to my beliefs. It helped that I was very stubborn and enjoyed being different. Kids picked on me in school when they found out. But I realize that it was just because they didn't understand, and like kids tend to do, they singled out the person that was different. Now that I'm an adult, people like it when I cook interesting dishes for them. I still get a few comments I don't appreciate every once in a while from "friends" that think I'm a "hippy", but I generally let their remarks roll off my back and realize that I'm doing something better for myself than they will ever do. Sometimes it does help to confront the person about their remarks. Tell them it hurts your feelings when they make comments about your choices and it's not something you are willing to change about yourself. Maybe explaining why you have made your choice will help them accept it.

DESIGNGODDESSPA's Photo DESIGNGODDESSPA Posts: 141
5/3/09 11:18 A

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They may not understand that their comments are hurtful. And its hard for them to understand. For you what is essential to them seems drastic. Hold your head up high knowing that you are eating well for your body while at the same time relieving the pressures on the Earth and saving our animals friends from a sad demise. You're doing the right thing.

I like to save my words/comments on vegetarianism for when an opportunity to share arises - only when it would be non-threatening to friends/family. That way I am not seen as standing on a "soapbox" and my comments might be taken legitimately. Once in a while, people do come to me and ask questions, and only then, I let them know what I know in hopes to make a positive difference in there lives.

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CARISSA51 Posts: 1
5/3/09 11:06 A

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I've been a vegetarian since college (17 years ago), and I always use the great quote, "If only 10% of the people in the world ate lower on the food chain, there would be less hunger in the world." I go on to explain how much resources it takes to produce a cow vs. tofu.

SARA.SUNHOUSE's Photo SARA.SUNHOUSE Posts: 2,197
5/3/09 7:27 A

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Time will eventually convince most people that you are serious. It took years before my DH's parents realized that we were serious. We've been vegetarian for over 30 years now, and it's just part of the background for them.

Try not to take things personally (easier said than done!!). Those who are making the most fuss may be the ones who are most embarrassed about what they eat. Maybe not their steaks and bacon, but maybe their potato chips and candy bars...

And if you feel good and are getting healthier, then you will have the last laugh.

If not now, when?

Highest weight: not really sure, but I posted 76 k
Reached goal weight of 145 on April 1, 2004 -- goal weight 65 k
Current weight: 70.5 k


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PANDALEEN's Photo PANDALEEN Posts: 277
5/3/09 2:21 A

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Only a couple people in my life ridicule me for my choices. My boyfriend keeps asking me when I'm going to be "normal" again. When I brought up once that I was pondering a vegan lifestyle, he literally freaked out on me, even though I don't push my choices on anyone else. I think he's just defensive because he knows that he lives an unhealthy lifestyle, and he thinks I'll start getting annoyed at him if I'm eating healthier.

My family is very supportive. Mostly they forget once in awhile, and offer me chicken or steak or a burger and then quickly correct themselves, no harm done. I don't get offended by that. My brother's girlfriend is filipino and made empanadas especially for me because they were my favorite before I gave up meat, but she didn't realize that I don't eat chicken because she doesn't really consider it meat.

Sometimes it just takes a little explaining. If people keep bugging you, ignore them. Mostly anyone new that finds out I'm vegetarian asks if I eat fish, and what kinds of things I eat. They're just curious a lot of times. :)

Sorry for the ranting, there's so much I wanted to say but I want to cut it short so it isn't a novel!


"Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss." - Douglas Adams

"... I improvised, crazed by the music... Even my teeth and eyes burned with fever. Each time I leaped I seemed to touch the sky and when I regained earth it seemed to be mine alone." - Josephine Baker

"Well shes walking through the clouds
With a circus mind thats running round
And moonbeams and fairy tales
Thats all she ever thinks about
Riding with the wind." - Jimi Hendrix


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ERTHFIREWNDWTR's Photo ERTHFIREWNDWTR Posts: 9
5/2/09 9:21 P

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I had difficulties with my dad when I first became a vegetarian, he and my step mom raise cattle, so it was not something he wanted to comprehend. It's been 14 years since I made the change and it was only two months ago that my dad finally acknowledged my decision and actually said he was proud of me for it. I thought I was hearing things.

He was the only one in my family that gave me a hard time, but my classmates were very cruel. I stuck with it, cause I knew that it was the right choice for me. I don't try and convert anyone to my side and at the moment, I don't even know another vegetarian.

The people in my life are very supportive now, even my new in laws. Just stick with it and keep your head up, you're the only one that can choose what you do with your life and how you want to live. In time, they'll either understand or you simply won't care as much. I'm not a fan of "you are what you eat" because you being a vegan doesn't change the kind of person that you are. Good luck.

The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones. - Chinese Proverb


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POTRIDGE's Photo POTRIDGE Posts: 5,280
5/2/09 9:09 P

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My hubby went out of his way to buy a bumper sticker and stuck it on our fridge. It read, "Save a cow. Eat a vegetarian". I cried but then I made my own little sticker to place over the vegetarian part. So now it reads, "Save a cow. Eat a falafel". I agree...humor it!!!

DIET IS A FOUR LETTER WORD!!!!

We are constantly creating our "karma" or destiny through our intentions, thoughts and deeds in this moment. It is achieved through countless deliberate acts of selflessness.

It's hard to be happy with others if we are not happy with ourselves.

Just keep on moving and you'll get there.


If you ever want to feel good about yourself, go out and help someone else!


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R2C2NU's Photo R2C2NU Posts: 212
5/2/09 7:47 P

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Humor is my first line of defense. Over the years Iíve acquired a few lines that are intended to disarm them, like telling them Iím actually a Fredetarian, I eat what I choose. Asking them what they eat to stay so healthy often brings out some laughs. If not, act like youíre really interested. That way you can enjoy the laugh, but not while they are standing close to you.
My next level might be to tell them how surprised I was when I connected the loin cloth with tender loin. If it gets too bad I gross them out a little by telling them I donít harass them for eating ground up cow or a baked pigís ass, so let me enjoy my stir fry or whatever Iím eating at the time. Mentioning crossover foods such as baked potato or green beans helps to bridge the gap but Iím not above mentioning foods I rarely eat and canít pronounce, something they wonít recognize but sounds yucky. I keep a smile on my face and try to keep it light.
Humor works well for me but not every time. Sometimes I just remove myself from the lineup and let them fire their shots for there own enjoyment. Family gathering can be brutal. For some reason family members feel free to say things to other family members they would never say to anyone else. Holidays always brought out the worst of my extended family.
One thing I no longer do is suggest what others should do about their food choices. That just opens it up for them to dump on me. I canít change anybody else; I just work on making the changes I want to make in my life. That can be hard enough. A good way for me way to influence others is to quietly do my thing and let them see the results. They may not verbalize it but they canít help but notice. As long as I know Iím being the best person I can be at that moment, what others say or do doesnít bother me. (as much)
I like the Biker guyís suggestion. Invite them for a meal and try to prepare foods you have found to be enjoyable and think they might enjoy. Donít prepare a new dish; stick with what you have had success with. And you may want to try to limit what you make to things that will keep well in the refrigerator. You could end up with a lot of leftovers.
Stay positive and focus on what you intend for yourself. Enjoy the process. Iíve learned that the rough times always offer the best opportunity for growth. Be appreciative of your family and friends being so helpful.
Peace


CD4267301 Posts: 227
5/2/09 6:49 P

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It's a shame it's your own family. I think it hits harder than when it's others.

I offerred to host Thanksgiving Dinner this past year. I told my family I had everything covered, but if they wanted meat they had to bring it. I had all the traditional fixings, but if was all vegan. I enjoyed every bite, knowing I could eat every bite. Everyone LOVED the food. My mom brought a turkey, so there was meat, but that was it. I think it opened their eyes that my food isn't that much different than theirs. And the bubble bread was a huge hit!!

Good luck with your family. Remember, much of their thoughts & words are born of ignorance. Education & experience are key.

TEAMROSE's Photo TEAMROSE Posts: 369
5/2/09 6:17 P

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When I changed my eating habits, of course everywhere and everyone was very critical. The easy solution was to fire back with snide remarks like "you are what you eat, PIG". This only made for strained relationships. After all, I was the one that was different from the norm.

Now, when I hear the remarks, I either let them roll off my back or say something like "this too shall pass".

Surprisingly, since noticeable results are showing up on my body, more often than not the comments I receive are things like "is it hard to stick to that type of diet?" "are you getting enough protein?", well you do look better, but I could never do that to myself"...

Bottom line, if you ignore the remarks, change the subject or just answer simply, people will move on to the next subject. We are all very sensitive. The reality is, we are not as important as we think. People are more interested in their lives and will move on to the next subject (themselves), if you ask them any question about regarding their lives.



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SLIMVIXEN's Photo SLIMVIXEN Posts: 118
5/2/09 5:42 P

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Hi all. I've got a question that I'm sure has probably been addressed in the past, but I'd love to get current feedback, thoughts, experiences, etc. if you feel like sharing.

I've been vegan since August of last year. It's a personal choice, as are everyone's eating habits. Even if I am concerned about some of the things my family (extended family) decides to eat and may, on occasion, suggest the inclusion of more vegetables and fruit in their diets, I have never been one to harp on what they should or shouldn't be doing or to use the dinner table as my own personal soapbox for extolling the benefits of a veg*n diet. For the holidays, I bring my own dishes and mind my own eating business since no one (except for my husband) has cared to try anything I've prepared.

Until recently, things had gone well. Or, as smoothly as I could've hoped. But, this past holiday felt like something straight out of a firing squad. I don't know. Maybe they assumed I was 'going through a phase' before and now it's sinking it that my diet preference is a permanent one. But, the jokes and jabs and just plain hostility toward my plate by several of my family members was just... astounding.

I dealt with it as best I could. Tried not to get hostile or defensive because I don't feel that my eating habits are anything to defend. I'm happy, I'm healthy and I enjoy everything bit of food I put into my mouth. But, the experience was crushing and, because of those hurt feelings, I don't think I handled it as well as I would have liked to or have in the past with the occasional jokes that would pass my way.

So, I'd love to find out how others here may have dealt with similar situations or other occurrences in the hopes that I can learn from you.

- Mel

"Every day, I become more the person I've always been. Every day, I am astounded by the discovery of me."


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