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Woman's brother rats her out when she strays from 'strict family diet; dad says, 'I'm going to publicly humiliate you.' AITA? UPDATED

Woman's brother rats her out when she strays from 'strict family diet; dad says, 'I'm going to publicly humiliate you.' AITA? UPDATED


When this teenage girl strays from her family diet, she asks the internet:

"AITA for “breaking” my family diet?"

My (15f) entire family are vegans, my dad especially is a very “vocal” vegan. He goes to vegan protests, was in vegan groups in our old city, he’s a vegan activist. Which I love, I’m not trying to paint those things as bad I really respect him for his thoughts.

My brother and I have both been raised vegan our entire lives. At school it’s always made me feel “othered” is the best way to explain it.

Never able to eat anything sold in the school canteen, at friend’s birthdays never able to eat a piece of cake with my friends, or have to be the one who says “we can’t go to that restaurant they don’t serve any vegan food”.

Always having to explain why I’m not allowed to “try a bite” of their sandwich. They aren’t huge things but they are things that make me stick out. Since I’m an awkward guy anyway, it just doesn’t help me socially.

So when we moved cities and I joined a new school last Monday I decided that I’m not going to follow the vegan diet while I’m at school. I kept this to myself because I know my parents wouldn’t support it and would be angry.

When at home, or with my parents I will follow the vegan diet but if I’m out with my friends or at school I’m not going to say, in my mind this was respectful of my parents wishes.

No meat in the house or around them but my myself is different. My brother and I both go to this new school. Since we don’t share a dinner time I didn’t tell him that I wasn’t going to follow the vegan diet, I didn’t think he would support it and I thought he would tell dad.

Things have been going alright but I didn’t know that on Fridays my brother’s dinner time would be at the same time as mine. I was sitting with some new friend and I was eating a cheese pizza (this is the only non-vegan food I’ve eaten so far.

I want to try pepperoni but still feel a little scared) and my brother caught me and asked what I was doing eating pizza.

I tried to play it off but I knew I was screwed, my brother told my parents and now everyone is really upset at me. I’ve been grounded and my dad said he’s going to call my new school and tell them that if they sell me non-vegan food he will put in a discrimination complaint. Which is just going to make me seem like a weirdo now.

I tried to explain to him that I was trying to be respectful by not doing it here, but my parents just gave me a huge lecture about how I’m so selfish for breaking the diet. He said he can’t trust me anymore and now I feel guilty in one half of my brain and in another I’m telling myself it isn’t that big of a deal and they’re overreacting.

But I don’t know if I’m just being blind. Please, no debates about the ethics of the vegan diet. I don’t care to debate it with anyone I’m sure there are subreddits where people will be happy to. Please focus on my situation when giving your verdict.

I’m 15, and honestly I doubt it. My grandparents raised my dad vegetarian before they became vegan and he’s super hardcore with it. I can’t imagine he’s ever eaten meat. my mom probably has, she turned vegan when she met my dad.

I think what he's truly saying is he will embarrass me in front of everyone. He's made big fusses about me being vegan before at school and he knows I don't like when he does it. He probably thinks that I'll just agree so he doesn't come in and do his whole act to embarrass me.

What he's done before is go into the school reception and cause a huge fuss, screaming shouting. He's done this during break time when he knows everyone will be able to see him.

That was about there not being enough vegan foods provided by the school canteen.

He knows it embarrasses me and I think sometimes he uses it as a weapon against me that he will act like that in public. It sucks, but I feel less guilty after talking to you people. So thank you. The thing is it will embarrass me and I’ll be an outcast again like at my old school.

Before we give you OP's update, let's take a look at some of the top responses:

chronique writes:

NTA but you are not in a great position to rebel against your family's choices. The emphasis on a vegan lifestyle is similar to a religious lifestyle and it seems that your father views it that way if he is ranting about discrimination cases.

You are "apostate" and that is going to cause you trouble at home. But you are not wrong to be. Becoming an adult is a time when people challenge beliefs they've been brought up and see if they want to continue them into adult life.

And you don't want to be vegan. You are being respectful - you are respecting their beliefs at home. I suppose there is an argument you should be respectful when spending money your father gives you at school if he feels very morally. But that falls down if you have employment and are spending own money.

You are going to have to assume that you are under scrutiny though by your brother and for interests of a good home life, I'd suggest sticking to the vegan diet at school. It is hard to recommend that you sneak around your parents but you are the only one that can decide if the downsides of being "othered" are sufficiently bad to offset that.

Give it three years and you will have freedom to fully make own choices. Pepperoni pizza is good but it can be quite spicey. Also watch out for an upset stomach as it may take you time to acclimatize to meat.

jeeperscreeppp writes:

It sounds like veganism is not just a diet in your family, it is a religion--a moral code that your worldview is built around. And as with all kids who begin to question the merits of the belief system under which they were raised, NTA for deciding to forge your own path.

I think the timing (new school, kids don't know about veganism) and manner (vegan at home, not necessarily at school) you went about it was very thoughtful. I think you should wait until your parents calm down and approach them about this--explain that the stigma of being...

so different is worse for you at this time in your life than a little non-vegan food, but that you have no intention of upsetting the family dynamic or "converting" your brother to the omnivore club.

In terms of the school, go to your counselor or other administrator and explain that this is YOUR choice. It may be that your parents have no ability to override it. At the very least, it should put the school's mind at ease about babysitting your food intake or a potential "discrimination" claim.

The only thing you did wrong here is consider the pepperoni. You need to walk before you can run, son.

suchfunwseare writes:

NTA. I've been vegan for half my life now (22 years) & I'm an animal rights-based vegan who works at a chicken sanctuary. It super matters to me. A lot. And I still think you're justified in making your own choices here.

If you don't have a strong moral/ethical conviction about not using animals, then you don't. It is what it is, as much as it might make your family (& other vegans) feel sad.

I think it's great that you're choosing to eat fully plant-based at home both bc it's respectful to your family and bc it reduces the amount of animals you're consuming. I don't find veganism hard or othering bc I chose it & it's something that's a deep part of my personal philosophy.

Veganism is an ethical & moral framework with lots of moving parts & hard questions, you cannot force it upon someone.

Your family can feed you plant-based food & only have cruelty free & vegan products for you to use in the house, but they can't force you into an ethical framework that doesn't resonate with you. If you decide later on that veganism is important to you, cool. Welcome aboard.

gaer writes:

I’m a vegan and you’re NTA. You have the right to decide what you eat. You’re doing a great job by eating what you want when you’re out and about, and respecting people’s culture (including your parents) when you’re inside their home.

I’m against your family treating it like an all-or-nothing issue. I make exceptions sometimes. Veganism shouldn’t be about being perfect and obsessively policing what goes in your body. It’s about advocating for animals and eliminating exploitation where possible.

Your parents sound emotionally unhealthy. This isn’t about veganism at all – it’s about them being obsessively controlling.

ETA for the “exceptions aren’t vegan” crowd: Veganism is the avoidance of harm to animals where possible. Sometimes it’s not possible, for example if you’re stuck somewhere without other food, or need a medication that contains animal products. You’re still vegan!

Most vegans I know are very chill and agree with this. I can’t name any of my vegan friends who haven’t had the odd cheese sandwich when there was nothing else to eat at a work function.

If anyone is considering living in a vegan way, know that it’s all about doing what’s possible, and not about perfectionism. People who disagree tend to be meat eaters who have misunderstood what veganism actually is.

gemthyst writes:

NTA. Ironically your dad telling the school to do that is reverse discrimination. Parents raise us, very often, to follow in their footsteps, culture, religion, morals, ethics etcetcetc. But there does come a time when kids can, and should strike out on their own and challenge these.

Following something blindly isn’t wise. Assessing for self and then making your own informed decisions is. The fact you will toe the line under their roof is great as a compromise but, them not letting you see for yourself out of their home is controlling and close to abusive.

Veganism isn’t a protected characteristic like skin colour, so the school wouldn’t be held accountable for discrimination, especially as it’s your choice to try. In fact, they would have grounds to report your parents for forcing you to adhere to a diet you don’t want.

I’d suggest speaking to your school counsellor first and explain it there, and ask them to suggest a way to enable/mediate a conversation with your parents around your choices and decisions.

Your parents don’t have to agree. But they shouldn’t give you a rough time for trying it out. Even if it’s so you can decide to recommit to veganism in future with a more informed info set.

After all. When you leave for college/ leave home they can’t control you so the way needs to be paved for you to test your own ethics around it. Good parents would respect that. Even if they don’t like it.

And now OP's update:

Hi people, I just wanted to get on here and give a brief update to my AITA post. I wanted to say a huge thank you to all the people who messaged me and replied to the post with kind words and encouragement that I didn't actually do anything wrong and I wasn't being blind to the situation.

It's half term where I live at the moment so we're not at school this week, I am hoping that this all blows over by the time of next Monday because I am really worried that my dad is going to embarrass me at my new school by causing a scene.

I was going to send an email out to my form tutor describing the situation to them, but I am worried that they will think I'm being stupid.

My parents aren't talking to me at the moment, like fully ignoring my existence when I go and sit with them so I'm just sitting in my room. My dad took all my electronics off me but he doesn't know I have this old android phone and Chromebook from like 8 years ago in my closet drawers.

I haven't been able to speak to my friends since he took my phone, I really hope my dad isn't messaging them about me because last time I was grounded he messaged all my friends off my phone telling them how awful I was.

My parents haven't been making me any meals when they cook for everyone but I'm also not meant to use the oven so I've just been eating beans and mycoprotein that I've cooked in the microwave.

Even though you all voted me as NTA, I really regret what I did. My dad made me watch this film called Dominion and it's made me feel really guilty. I just wish I had never done it because it wasn't worth all this.

I'm going to be staying vegan because I really don't want to disappoint my family again like this and I feel really bad. This is probably going to be the last time I go on this account, but again thank you all.

Sources: Reddit
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