Dear Miriam,

My 15-year-old daughter recently declared that she is now a vegan. My husband is a part-time beef farmer, so you can imagine how this went down at home. I’m assuming that it is a phase she is going through at the moment. I know that a good few of her friends have decided to go vegan also, so it seems to be contagious.

I feel that there is little point in arguing with her as I remember what it was like to be a teenager. Any time that my mother or father tried to stop me from doing something, it just made me dig my heels in even deeper. When it comes to teenagers, I feel it’s best to pick your battles.

I am, however, concerned about her cutting out food groups like dairy in one fell swoop. I’ll also admit, Miriam, that I am a bit stressed about what it will mean for my workload as well. We have three children in total and I’m essentially the head chef. The rest of the family are definitely not vegans and the last thing I need is to be cooking two different dinners every evening, not to mind thinking about what she will have for breakfast and lunch.

I am doing my best to respect my daughter’s wishes, but I don’t want to become even more of a slave to the cooker in the process. Have you any advice?

Concerned mother

Dear Concerned mother,

Thanks for your email. I think you are wise to realise that there is little to be gained in arguing with your daughter over her decision. But here’s the thing. Her decision also equals her responsibility – well, in as much as you can reasonably expect of a 15-year-old.

First things first though, you mention that you are worried about how your daughter will have a healthy and balanced diet if she goes vegan. In that case, I think it would be a very good idea to see a dietitian for some practical advice and guidance in this regard. Your GP might have a local recommendation or, alternatively, you can find a list of professionals registered with the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute at

I understand your concerns about ending up cooking two different dinners every evening. At this stage, I would feel that your daughter is old enough to have a part to play in preparing not just her own dinner, but also a family meal. I’m not sure what age your other two children are, but perhaps it’s time for them to get involved also. Who knows, maybe your daughter’s decision can actually be a catalyst for a more positive change in the house where all the children start to step up in the kitchen; albeit with a bit of guidance.

I’m not sure what you usually have for dinner at home, but potatoes and other vegetables are obviously vegan-friendly, so really, nothing has to change in that regard. Maybe your daughter will find recipes that present these in a new and creative way that all the family may enjoy? Why not give her that job to look after over the summer holidays, at least for a few evenings a week? We could all do with eating more veg anyway, so everybody will benefit. Her siblings can also get involved with this.

With regards to what replaces the meat element of the dinner, perhaps yourself and your daughter could look at recipes that could be easily batch cooked and frozen in individual portions, that she can make herself and then use as she needs, like a vegan curry. It’s about making it as easy as possible for all involved, so that this does not turn into another job on your to do list.

Maybe it is just a phase or maybe this is the start of a lifelong journey for her. Either way, by giving her ownership of her decision, you are helping to equip her with the right tools to look after herself in the long run. Wishing you both the very best of luck.

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