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Gently confront DD about drinking milk?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

DD (almost 13) is vegan.  This is her choice.  My other DD and I rarely eat meat, but regularly consume cheese, eggs, etc.  I do eat meat about 2X per month.  Dh and Ds are omnivores and will eat meat any chance they get. 

 

DD misses cheese and ice cream the most.  We have found substitutes, but they are not the same.

 

I have suspected for a month or so now that she eats dairy products outside the house.  she ate something the other day that was iffy on whether or not it had dairy in it - something she would not do in the past.

 

This morning I came downstairs to a cereal bowl that definitely had cow milk in it (there is no other kind currently in the house).  Yes, it was definitely hers - the males are away on a trip, and I know my youngest DD had not been up.  It was the vegan DD's.

 

I have NO issues with her eating dairy.  Indeed, I wish she would - it will make feeding her easier (there - I said it!  I have a decent repetoire of vegan foods, but she is so picky, and expanding of food items is a good thing).  I also feel bad for her that she misses cheese, while understanding her objections to it.

 

So....what to do?  My gut is saying "do nothing" - but if she is eating dairy I do not want her to have to hide that from us.  

 

I do think her identity is somewhat wrapped up in being vegan (there isn't a day that goes by without someone saying the word - "no, DD will not eat that, it is not vegan."  I think she does not want it to look to us like she is wimping out on her ethical code.  

 

So...what to do?  As stated above - I am heading towards not saying a thing and letting her come out to us ( or go back to solidly vegan) in her own time.   Anyone ever struggle with this?  Another thought (and it only arose as I typed) do you think she might feel guilty about comsuming dairy?  I would like to work that out with her, although goodness knows what I would say.....Any ideas on what to say to a teen if they feel guilty for eating dairy?  

 

Ugh!  I need a living with your vegan manual....


Edited by purslaine - 11/21/11 at 8:14am
post #2 of 14

If you feel the need to know then you could casually ask and make it no big deal. I am vegetarian and I have attempted to be vegan and it is hard in today's world. There could be some guilt she's feeling. You could talk to her and let her know that it's ok if she eats dairy sometimes and it doesn't mean she has to give up trying to be vegan if that's important to her. It sometimes takes awhile to make that switch. Does she drink soy or another cow milk substitute?

post #3 of 14

First, it's rare when following what the gut says turns out to be a mistake. But you probably know that.

 

However, it would be simpler if you knew what she's thinking and feeling. I never missed ice cream when I went vegan, myself. Didn't find the substitutes lacking. There might be other brands, like some of the coconut based ones, that are fatty enough to satisfy. (healthy is another issue!) I like the Uncheese Cookbook a lot for much healthier alternatives to dozens of dairy foods, lots that I never even heard of when I was eating cheese. I find it's easy to substitute for lower-quality cheese foods like Velveeta sauce or Cheese Whiz, and homemade is nutritionally such a huge improvement, and often not much harder or more time-consuming. But, if it's better cheeses, like the 10-year-aged Gouda dh likes, I doubt it's possible to replicate the complex flavor and unique texture.

 

I'd guess that that doesn't really solve this puzzle, though. She may well be embarrassed, since other people probably went to quite a bit of inconvenience for her benefit. That's not a diet issue, though, it's about how a person changes gracefully, how others around her acknowledge that she is growing up and trying different things on the way to finding out who she is. You clearly accept her however she is, whatever choices she makes. It probably wouldn't hurt to remind her of that. As for everyone else, I guess that's the kind of thing everyone has to work out as they grow up, and I don't know that there's any help for it.

 

When I added local eggs to my previously vegan diet, it was awkward at first, because certain people were so excited. Now we could go to all the restaurants together that they had had to skip when they wanted to eat out with me. But of course, really, it made no difference, because those places serve factory eggs which I wouldn't touch. That introduced another round of educating the people around me and rewriting the boundaries, which I hadn't been that comfortable with in the first place. I was 37 then, can't imagine going through all that when I was 12. I had nowhere near the strength of character it takes to assert myself that way! Very few people know now that I do occasionally eat a dairy food. It's so complicated. I feel okay with doing that rarely, but I'm always afraid other people will judge me. Plus, once a boundary is broken, I'm afraid everyone will think, well she ate that piece of cake the other day, she can eat this cheese today . . . and I will lose control of my diet. Or have to negotiate every piece of food I share with anyone else. That might be part of your dd's situation.

 

I could go on and on . . . there could be so many issues involved. One thing I might do, if she comes out and says she is conflicted, is find sources of dairy foods that are more ethical than standard supermarket brands. Can you find local dairies, maybe which you could visit together? (Take ds and dh too!) That might make it easier for her to make a choice she feels good about.

hth

post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thank you - it does help.  I might even let her read this thread, if I decide to open the discussion.

 


We do occasionally buy rice or almond milk.  We bake with them, but that is about it.  She does not pour herself a glass of one.  They occasionally go bad from lack of use.

 

We have found a semi-decent ice cream - she likes these soyliscous bars - but getting them is a bit hit and miss.  We have to get them when ewe go to the city and cannot always find them.  She does like Daiya cheese (so do I!).

 

She has hinted she would be willing to eat eggs from really ethically raised chickens - but eggs are not a thing she misses, cheese is, and that will be harder find around here, I think.

post #5 of 14

How long has she been vegan? The first year can be incredibly hard. I know I "cheated" a good bit and yes, I felt guilty and would have been humiliated if anyone had known. In your shoes, I'd probably talk to her letting her know I know but that she doesn't have to admit to anything, and that regardless of which route she takes, I'd love to help her out to make the road easier for her.

 

Successful veganism takes creativity, and her learning to cook and experiment could make things a lot easier for her. I know it did for me. Also, taking a break from substitutes for awhile and understanding that her tastes will eventually change can be helpful. In my experience, the substitutes taste so much better and more satisfying if you go a few months without cow milk before trying them. I second giving coconut ice cream a try. The soy stuff doesn't hold a candle to it, imo. Mint chocolate chip coconut ice cream makes my life. I've heard that almond milk tastes closest to cow milk of all the subs. It's been years since I've tasted cow milk, so I can't speak to the truth of that, but my family does love almond milk. However, I hated it when I first tried it. I was on soy milk (which was very unsatisfying) for about a year before I tried almond milk again. I loved it then. I used to miss cheese as well. I stopped bothering with substitutes for about a year (especially since most of them have casein anyways). I tried nutrtitional yeast after that, and it has pretty well satisfied my cheesy cravings. Cashew cheese has been great for things I used to use cream cheese for after I figured out how to tweak the recipe to suit me. Rice milk yogurt was also a great discovery for us. It tastes a lot closer to the yogurt I remember than the soy stuff. Learning to cook good vegan food instead of relying on storebought substitutes was a life saver for me. A grilled avocado sandwich can be a great way to satisfy a craving for a grilled cheese, as long as you don't go into it expecting it to be the same. Two slices of bread "buttered" with Earth Balance on both sides, homemade vegan mayo (which is very easy to make, btw) on one side, mashed avocado, a sprinkling of nutritional yeast, and maybe a slice of tomato and/or sauteed onions and portabellos and cooked for about a minute on each side makes for a pretty yummy sandwich. I'd take that over a grilled cheese any day, even if I was eating dairy. I've made them for a couple omnivores who now make them on a regular basis themselves. You also might try experimenting with seitan.

 

Have you ever gone to vegweb.com? Awesome vegan recipe site. I used to practically live there. It might be helpful for her to make a point of teaching her how to cook and exploring the world of vegan cooking together. I'd be pretty hard up if I didn't know how to hit the kitchen to satisfy my own cravings, especially since so many of the storebought substitutes really leave something to be desired.

post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

She has been vegan 1-2 years.  

post #7 of 14

i agree there's a lot of potential guilt as well as a heavy dose of cognitive dissonance in indulging cravings for foods you're ethically opposed to.  i used to call myself a cheating vegan because i was vegan 99% of the time.  now i just try to avoid labelling my diet, though it's certainly helpful to set clear boundaries for others who buy/serve you food.  i also wondered if she'd be more inclined to eat ethically raised dairy.  it would necessitate being more open about it, but would probably feel better.  you might also encourage the family to lay off mentioning her veganness unless necessary and allow her the room to make less 'strict' choices without feeling judged, which it sounds like you're doing.

 

another thought, from working with teens (and remembering what it was like, sort of) is that she's keeping a bit of a secret which she may enjoy as a sort of safe rebellion, OR which may be uncomfortable and lead her to be sloppy, as with the cereal bowl, to get 'caught.'  that might tell you more than the actual food issues whether you should say anything. 

post #8 of 14

and i'm drooling for that grilled avocado sandwich!!

post #9 of 14

Maybe it would be helpful to talk to her in a way that is completely non-food related, but communicates your love & support for her. Let her know that you are aware that she's figuring out her choices in life and the path she wants to take, and you don't expect her at the age of 13 to have it all figured out. She can keep experimenting and working out what's best for her. You're there to support her as she finds her way. It's OK to try things on for size, see if they work, tweak if necessary. That's a process that we all go through as we grow up, even after we're all grown up. That kind of thing. You wouldn't have to mention her diet specifically, but she would hopefully understand your message.

 

post #10 of 14

I've only skimmed the other responses.

 

I'd leave it alone. If she wants you to know, she'll tell you.

 

Unless she wants you to know but she doesn't know how to say it and she left the bowl around as a hint. Watch and see if that's a trend. If not, let her have her identity.

 

Also, I have read you can freeze both rice and almond milks. Freeze them in ice cube trays, store the cubes in ziplock bags, then take out how many you need. I'm not sure if there's any separations with the almond milk. Most of what I read said these folks used the almond milk ice cubes in smoothies. Though it's certainly worth it to try and see.

post #11 of 14

I say do nothing.  As a vegan who recently experimented with ovo-vegetarianism, I told people anonymously on here, but not my friends in real life.  I didn't want to announce a change until I was sure.  When I decided to return to veganism, I was glad not to have to go back and tell everyone again.  For this reason, I do understand your daughter's actions.

post #12 of 14

I've hidden eating dairy from people in the past -- it's one of those things.  I wish I'd been found out.  It's so hard to lie and keep lying to people you love, especially because they hold you to some standard that you feel you can't uphold.  It doesn't seem like she's trying too hard to keep her habits hidden.  If keeping the cereal bowl out was her way of telling you, maybe you should just casually mention it.  Especially since you don't have an issue with it, you could just be like, "Oh, are you eating dairy again?  If so I'll pick up XYZ next time I'm out."  Catch her off guard.

post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsSlocombe View Post

I say do nothing.  As a vegan who recently experimented with ovo-vegetarianism, I told people anonymously on here, but not my friends in real life.  I didn't want to announce a change until I was sure.  When I decided to return to veganism, I was glad not to have to go back and tell everyone again.  For this reason, I do understand your daughter's actions.


That's a good point too, though.  Sometimes it's just a phase and not a decision.

 

post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 

we naturally fell into a discussion about calcium (which both of us know she can get without dairy!) and I asked her in an off-hand way that if we could find ethically treated dairy cows would eat cheese? (which is the item she most misses).  She said yes.  Now I have to figure out how to find ethically treated dairy cows....

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