Struggles with diet changes

This past weekend I was fortune to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family and friends. I had the chance to escape the city chaos and enjoy a feast at the cottage before returning to my mom's for another turkey dinner. Our dishes were relatively healthy with a few exceptions (lots of dessert!). We had a good variety of raw and baked veggies, meat and dessert. Recently, I've decided to eat vegetarian dishes throughout the week and allow myself to eat meat Friday to Sunday. I came across a list of 101 reasons to go vegetarian and I was shocked at some of the statistics. Here are a few that stood out for me:

50. 1lb of beef takes 1 gallon of petrol to produce.

62. Chickens are crammed into battery cages with up to 3 other birds, they are unable to even spread their wings & many can not even stand up.

91. Vegetarians have a 40% reduced level of cancer than the general population thought to be because they have a higher intake of vitamins A,C & E.

95. 50% of people do not have the enzyme to digest milk properly & milk allergy is related to asthma & eczema.

96. Meat eaters have double the rate of Alzheimers disease as Vegans & Vegetarians—some people also think that Parkinsons disease is also linked to meat eating.

Struggles with diet changes

I find diet changes are hard to accept for the older generation. If I were to tell my grandfather I went vegetarian or cut out dairy out of my diet, he would roll his eyes and force feed me meat products. Throughout my life, I've seen my mom struggle with the idea of my sister and my brother's girlfriend going vegetarian and eliminating foods from their diet. What are you suppose to eat if you can't have dairy or bread? Don't you miss meat? Those food allergies are all in your head. These are some of the things I would hear repeatedly and would hit a nerve every time! Why couldn't they accept the fact that when I eat dairy I get stomach pains and even I don't react instantly it is causing my body harm? There are so many other foods I can eat to get my calcium intake. And in all honestly, I don't really enjoy consuming cheese or milk.

Over the weekend, my mom made her traditional cheese cake and mash potatoes (with sour cream and butter). Holidays are probably the hardest times I will have to endure with my dietary restrictions and I honestly don't even want to talk about it with stubborn people. To make my mom happy, I had the smallest sliver of cake (but refused to have more than one). But I know from now on I will have to be more strict about eliminating certain foods and be more prepared (whether it's bringing my own dish or opting out of dinner with friends).

As an aspiring holistic nutritionist, I'm looking forward to the knowledge I will gain in order for me to be able to back up my food choices and not take offence to any negative feedback. If they can't understand it, that's okay. It's my body and I will fuel it my way. I will not let anyone tell me what I should and shouldn't eat and put my health in jeopardy.

As a vegetarian or vegan or someone who eliminates certain foods due to allergies, how do you cope with negative feedback or do not have the same nutrition views? How do you deal going out with friends who are meat eaters and might not necessarily support your view on nutrition and diet choices?