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For Andrea

To Andrea, whose parents won't allow her to be a vegetarian:

 You don't mention your age, but I am assuming that your parents still have
some say in your life.  When I decided to become a vegetarian in my teens,
(15 years ago, when being a vegetarian was not as accepted as it is today)
my parents demanded that I go to our family doctor for a physical,
convinced that he would support their theory that I was malnourished as a
result of my diet.  I agreed, and asked to have blood tests done.The
results showed that I was in fine health, and even had high levels of iron
- something that even the doctor was surprised to discover  :). Everyone
was expecting me to be anaemic.  Their argument no longer held any water,
and so my parents left me alone after that.

Your best defense is to enlighten yourself and your parents about the
benefits of following a vegetarian diet.  You have to show them that you
know how to plan your daily menu in such a way that you are getting all the
nutrients you need to be in good health.  You could talk to a nutritionist
who knows about and supports vegetarianism to help you in your meal
planning.  Also, it might help for your parents to hear from a professional
that there is no danger in your choice not to eat meat.  Make an
appointment for you and your family to discuss their fears and your
convictions.  The key is education.  Do not create animosity over this
issue.  You must not blame your parents if their point of view is not an
enlightened one.  Your job is to educate.  Take the time to research, so
that you will have answers to all their questions.  Show them that you are
acting from a responsible place, and not an emotional one.   I have found
the book "The Vegetarian Way"  by Virginia & Mark Messina  invaluable, and
recommend it to you.  Highlight what you need your parents to understand
and ask them if they will take the time to read it.

Wishing you and your family peace in this matter,