A Response To... A Letter To ... My Daughter, Who Hates Me For Not Being Vegan

The following letter (and photo) was published in the UK's Guardian newspaper on 4th March 2017, under the title A Letter To... My Daughter Who Hates Me For Not Being Vegan. Below it is the response I sent to the Guardian.

(NB. If you're looking for a blog that has a green picture, and is seemingly about empathy, it's below this one. This is a very rare second blog, written on the same day as the one you seek!)

When you told me you had decided to become a vegan, I was worried. You had always been a fussy eater and I feared that, with such a limited diet, you wouldn’t get the nutrition you needed.

But you were over 18, so it was your choice. In addition, you did begin to eat more fruit and vegetables and tried to include the right food and supplements in your diet, so I was, at least partly, appeased.

You said your motivation was animal welfare and the environmental damage caused by agriculture. Fair enough.

With a younger child and a full-time job, I found it a challenge to research and cook meals for you, but I took it on board. And when you left home for university, I made sure the car was packed with homemade vegan soup for your freezer.

But it is not enough for you that I accommodate your choice. As you have explained many times, for you, veganism is not just about what you eat – it’s a lifestyle. You have watched all the pro-vegan documentaries, read mountains of information on the internet and can effortlessly reel off the soundbites. You have become passionate about the cause to the point of dogma. You will not tolerate any opposing view. Crucially, you can no longer respect anyone who is not persuaded to go vegan. And that means me.

I am open to at least some of your arguments and have made changes to my diet on account of information you have passed on to me about farmed animals. But, as a middle-aged woman, my choices in life are narrowing and will continue to narrow. I have no intention of limiting those choices further by going vegan. In your eyes, that just makes me selfish.

When we meet, I take you to vegan restaurants and embrace the choices available. I send you vegan recipes and seek out vegan chocolate for you in the supermarket. I know that you appreciate my efforts, but I also know that I will always fall short. I have stopped even trying to explain my reasons for not going vegan as it just ends up with both of us getting upset.

There is an uncomfortable contradiction for me in all of this – I have brought you up to be a strong, powerful, compassionate young woman. I would expect you to be passionate about what you believe in. I have taught you that tolerance is vital, but that there is a point when a line is crossed and certain behaviour cannot be tolerated. So I really can understand, in part, your attitude.

But I can’t tell you how hard it is to live with the knowledge that my own daughter is sickened by me. It is so important to me to feel worthy of your respect.

I hope that, in time and with maturity, dogma may give way to a more open attitude. But my fear is that, while you may mellow in how outspoken you are about veganism, your revulsion of me will remain vivid.

And I will just have to live with that.