Dear G Philly: Answering Reader Questions

You ask. We tell.

Most of my life I’ve been eating meat, but recently I decided to become a vegetarian. Part of the reason is that I’m dating someone who’s meat-free and has been for many years. She’s also enlightened me about great dishes (I never would have guessed that I could eat more than just tofu!) and trends in factory farming. I’ve watched the documentaries, bought some new cookbooks and have decided it’s time for me to get healthier. Only problem is my friends and family are not being very supportive. They are accusing me of doing this for someone else – and they are convinced that I will be risking my health. How can I show them I’m serious about this and that I’m actually making a really smart decision? I already feel better and have lost some weight. I didn’t always make the best decisions when it came to food.

That’s easy. You can show them you’re serious by sticking to your dietary choices and living a happy, healthy life. Just because you may have been inspired by another person to reconsider certain life choices doesn’t mean you are simply trying to please someone else. You seem to very very well-informed about vegetarianism – and what it means for you and your eating habits – not to mention your waistline. Most people, you should know, don’t throw around phrases like “factory farming” for fun, so you’re ahead of the game in the information department. And while your current squeeze may get some credit for helping to shape the way you view things like eating, nutrition and treatment of animals, chances are your friends and family will see that after living as a meat-free eater for some time, you are quite serious about these issues. They may change their tune, too, when they see you’re reaching a healthy weight and are feeling better overall and making great food choices.

In the end, though, it really doesn’t matter what other people think. You need to do what’s right for you. And if vegetarianism is a good choice, then all the better. If the loved ones in your life are still critical, try reminding them that there are other famous people who subscribe to the same dietary choices, like one of the most famous vegans in the world – Ellen DeGeneres! You could also try cooking for them. Like you, they may be pleasantly surprised.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I’m trying to figure out how to tell my family that I’d like to stay at my place this year. Every holiday I end up going home to see them – and while I enjoy catching up – I would love to stay with my partner, make our own dinner and have some time off with friends rather than being stuck in train stations or in traffic. But whenever I bring this up, I’m met with animosity. I should mention that my family isn’t very gay-friendly. The last time I invited my boyfriend to Christmas, it was uncomfortable, to say the least. I’m almost 40 years old. Isn’t it time for me to make my own holiday memories?

You’ve already answered your own question. It is time for you to make your own holiday memories. This is especially true if your family isn’t supportive of you or your boyfriend. It also sounds like your family lives somewhat far away – or that you would need to take time off to travel. We all know that holiday traveling can be a trying experience sometimes. Paired with a family who makes you and your partner feel “uncomfortable” – it’s no wonder you’d like to stay home. One solution is making other plans with your family that aren’t holiday-related. You could try inviting them to your place between Thanksgiving and the New Year. If they opt out, be gracious. If they decide to visit you, it’s on your terms. You may find them to be more open with you and your partner when you can set the pace. It also gives them a chance to see how happy you are – and that you care for them even when you celebrate differently.

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