TL;DR

When my mom bakes a cake for us (whoever is at home but it's usually me, my little sister, my father and her), she uses eggs (which are not vegan), even if I will be there. How can I tell her that I find it hurtful to completely ignore the fact that I'm vegan, and thus can't eat the dessert?

Background

I'm 23, I have been vegan for 2 years, I live in my parents' house (well, not the past 6 months but I'm moving in again). I often cook the meal or part of it.

My mom hates cooking (I hate it too). She also doesn't like that I'm vegan and would probably wish for me to "convert back".

For the meal, there isn't a "main dish", there is just vegetables and starchy cook separately from the meat to make the meal vegan for me.

If she cooks something that needs milk/butter, she uses vegan alternatives but, if she needs eggs, she won't use the vegan alternative.

What I have tried

When I see that she is about to prepare a (non-vegan) cake, I ask her, why not use some maize starch(or some compote, depending) instead but she always told me "that's not how I learned to cook" or some similar excuse.

Sometimes, she will also say: if you aren't happy, you can cook. But the problem is, I do cook sometimes (just not cake) and I don't want to always have to do the cooking just because I'm the only vegan at home. Even though I know what to use as an alternative and would be able to tell her.

I didn't tell her (yet) that I found her hurtful because I wanted to avoid this (probably) difficult conversation.

Question

How can I communicate to my mother that I find it hurtful when she cooks for everyone but me?

Notes and clarifications

My mother does cook vegan stuff sometimes but only if she only needs to switch cow milk with rice milk. If it involves eggs, she won't switch ingredients.

When there are multiple things to eat, I don't really mind not eating something but when there is only one dessert, I do mind. Especially since this happens on a regular base (~ once per week).

Please, don't tell me that I'm selfish. I just want to be able to enjoy a vegan cake the same way they enjoy the vegan meals that I make.

No, I can't go out and buy a vegan cake, they're not readily available where I live.

A lot of answers suggest to teach her to cook vegan. This might work, but it might also not work: last time I tried, she just let me do the waffles on my own. So, I would be grateful for other solutions that do not involve cooking.

If the dessert is vegan, everyone will happily eat it.

My mother usually cooks 2/4 of time, me 1/4 and my father 1/4. At least that's how I see things but everyone on the house probably has a different opinion on the matter.

The cake is usually for the four of us (well, three of them since I can't eat it). If it's for guests, I mind less not being able to eat it (because it's not really for me, because I usually know in advance and because I can prepare/buy myself something else if needed).

Some people seem to think that I'm vegan for health reason, I'm really, really not. And the last time I tried to eat a not vegan cake, I didn't enjoy it because I felt guilty.


Follow up

I have asked my mother to tell me every time she wants to use eggs in a recipe (so that I can jump in and use something else instead).

I also printed and pinned on the fridge a summary table of what to use instead of eggs.

Finally, today, when my mother told me she wanted to make a pie using eggs, I jumped in and used Maizena instead (will she was cooking some other stuff). We didn't cook together but she mostly saw what I did and I hope that, if I do it often enough, she will start doing it by herself.

(but answers to help bring that issue with her are still very welcome if all this doesn't work)

Notes and clarification:

I would rather have the answer to "How to communicate to my mother that I find it hurtful when..." but people keep giving me answers to "how to have her cook vegan" so I used their solution in the hope that I won't need to "communicate that I find it hurtful when..."

  • 2
    Please don’t write answers in comments. It bypasses our quality measures by not having voting (both up and down) available on comments, as well as having other problems detailed on meta. Comments are for clarifying and improving the question; please don’t use them for other purposes. – Tinkeringbell Oct 1 at 11:17
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    You assume that your mother cooks for you four, but you can't eat it. Does your mother thinks, she cooks for all the family or her position is more like "i cook, what i like. I'm fine with everybody eating, what i cooked"? – fixerlt Oct 2 at 12:03
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    @fixerlt She does cook what she likes but she always takes care of doing enough for everyone so, ... – Noon Oct 2 at 12:10
up vote 120 down vote accepted

Originally commented on a different answer, but I want to flesh this out into a full response -

Unlike other answers, I don't believe your primary choice is to just accept this as what it is and move on. However, I don't think that a monologue about how she's making you feel is going to make her more likely to accommodate you. If anything, approaching people with "I feel slighted by your behavior" usually makes people less likely to work with you. That's why, in the following paragraphs, I'm going to explain a more subtle way to express to your mother that you want to change the current norm, without making her feel under attack (which will increase your odds of success).

The key thing to remember here is that you chose to be vegan and take on all responsibilities that come with it: giving up certain foods, buying special (sometimes expensive) substitute ingredients, learning how to cook with these substitutes, etc. Unsurprisingly, your mom had no say in the matter. For someone who doesn't like to cook, the fact that she does make some vegan meals for you (aside from cake) is an important indicator that she is trying to accommodate for you.

Instead of pitting the cake issue as you vs your mom, view it as a moment where you need to be a teacher. You've said that your mom doesn't like to cook. As someone else who doesn't like to cook, I'm going to run on an assumption based on how I'd feel about learning to cook a common recipe with new, unfamiliar ingredients: Stressed. Learning how to do something you already don't enjoy in a different way can be overwhelming. This is your moment to teach that it isn't as big of a stress as it needs to be.

Invite yourself to cook a vegan cake with your mom. I'd recommend approaching it by saying:

"I've been upset that I haven't been able to eat any of the cake, but I understand that learning to cook specifically for my diet can feel like a big task. Would I be able to cook the next cake with you, and I can show you that it's actually pretty easy to substitute eggs for _____?"

What's important about your approach, which you'll see above, is that you come at your mom from an understanding angle while still expressing that you've been impacted by being left out from the eating of dessert. This is as far as I recommend going into your feelings with your mother. Once you've made this gesture of acknowledgement about her feelings, it'll increase the likelihood that she'll listen to you and accept your offer to show her how to make a vegan cake, because you're coming from an area of compromise and mutual acknowledgement. Remain prepared that you may still need to compromise, the cake may still not always be vegan (maybe others still want the egg-y cake sometimes or it's just more convenient for your mom)... but this will be a start to reducing the amount of stress she feels by accommodating for a diet she did not choose and isn't used to.

If she declines your offer, I'd take the opportunity to ask her why she doesn't want to learn. Express that you feel really left out and miss being able to enjoy her cake, and that you'd like to know why she won't compromise with you. Unfortunately if there's nothing you can do to help console her reasons, at this point you may just have to accept that she is unwilling to budge about learning this new cooking skillset.


All parties involved in this situation feel what they feel - selfish, rude, or otherwise. The best way to bridge this problem is with understanding and attempting to find a compromise, with emphasis and focus on OP and their mother, as asked in the question. Let's focus on positive suggestions and bridging the gap instead of criticizing OP's feelings.

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    Comments deleted. Please remember that comments are for requesting clarification or suggesting improvements, not arguing with the answer (or OP). Please see this meta post for more information. – Em C Sep 27 at 13:36
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    I think you've got your quote backward, shouldn't it say "easy to substitute __ for eggs"? – Azor Ahai Sep 30 at 21:53

You are asking for something extra

I think it is perfectly fine to be vegan. But if there is a bunch of people to be cooked for, demanding a change of meals because of the wishes of one would be requiring something extra. Just because you choose not to eat something, does not mean everyone else is fine going with that and also not having that for family dinner.

From the comments and edits I read that your mother seems to have very little knowledge about vegan replacement products and prefers to cook "how she learned it". It might simply be that she is used to that and insecure about such replacement products, which is why she does not use them on her own.

It is important to note this, as it makes a major difference. You want some additional effort to be made for you. This can be fine, but you need to be mindful of specifically that to not act entitled towards her.

Communication - the difficult part

You have two options, either avoiding the issue (which you stated is not your longterm goal, but where you are at currently) or, in my opinion, simply being direct. You are feeling hurt that your mother does not cater to your wishes.

If your goal is to communicate your feelings then you have to be direct and honest. Tell her directly without beating around the bush that you feel left out. If you feel insecure about how the conversation might go then think to yourself about who your mother is. From what you have edited into the question and said in the comments she is probably a nice person and is not intent on hurting you.
Probably the worst that could happen is her being dismissive of it at first, which would mean you have to keep pushing.
Talk to her that you would appreciate a change of behaviour in this regard.

While you talk to her make sure not to say something that feels like you are blaming her, because then she will think of you being entitled for extra effort. You should go about it by focussing on you feeling left out and that you would appreciate her letting you help her cook so you have a common meal and you do not have to cook an extra serving for yourself.

If your mom has learned vegan cooking with your help she is definitely more likely to apply it in the future. Because then she has the tools and the knowledge of how important that is for you.

I always find an honest approach to be preferable, you will not get your point across by distracting with something else that might be easier to talk about.

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    Comments deleted. Please remember that comments are for requesting clarification or suggesting improvements, not arguing with the answer (or OP). To posters - if you have important information to add, please edit it into the appropriate post. – Em C Sep 27 at 13:13

I'm not sure if I read that correctly, but I get the feeling this is also a lot about getting a cake baked by your mother - for you. As you say you find it hurtful when she bakes a non-vegan cake.

So, why not communicate THIS to your mother? Say something like:

I have so many happy memories involving cake you did bake for us. Nowadays, with my being vegan, I can't anymore enjoy a cake my mother baked. I feel so left out seeing you all eat this cake, and not being able to participate. I know I chose my vegan lifestyle and so am responsible for it. But eating a cake you baked is not only about a tasty dessert, but a symbol for the love and the unity as a family. If I get you a recipe and the ingredients for a vegan cake, and showed you how to bake it that time, would you bake one for me the next time? I just want to feel that feeling of having a cake my mummy made for me...

By pointing out the symbolism of said cake and its significance to you, it wouldn't be about accommodating your "extravagant" lifestyle, but about a labour of love.

It's a simple technique derived from Marshall Rosenberg's violence-free communication.

I found that any time I used it, explaining my feelings and therefore the reason behind my plea, people are more declined to comply with my plea. Granted, I take this approach mostly with my family. The examples are varying... talking to my daughter about the necessity of wearing a helmet while riding her bike: I want her to be protected the best way, because I love her - instead of just ordering her to do it.. Asking my husband to wake me from napping with a hot tea: because it feels like being cared for and loved.

Of course there's a difference with my daughter STILL not wearing a helmet or my husband not making tea - the first gets a sterner talking and asking for her reasoning, the latter just gets a sigh and an "okay" - I may be disappointed, but there's no point into forcing somebody into a labour of love, is there? ;)

  • "people are more declined to comply with my plea" - i think you mean inclined, not declined. – cp.engr yesterday

TL;DR

Time your communication better.

Telling her that she is being hurtful is not very amicable and would likely result in further defensive responses as it is probably hurtful that you do not like her food any more.


Based on your story, I believe the biggest stumbling block is the timing of your communication.

You say:

When I see that she is about to prepare a (non-vegan) cake, I ask her, why not use some Maizena (or some compote, depending) instead but she always told me "that's not how I learned to cook" or some similar excuse.

"why not use some Maizena" is specifically provoking a defensive response because the simple answer is "I am not familiar with it, why are you pushing this in my face right now?"

Trying to change the way that someone does something in the middle of execution is downright the most ineffective way of getting a person to change what they are doing. It provokes a sense of defensiveness because you are asking them to change in the middle of auto-pilot.

In your case, it is specific to cooking but it's true in countless aspects. Consider the following scenarios:

  • To a student: hey I see you're studying biology tonight from textbook xyz, may I suggest textbook abc instead? It's better you know.
  • To a carpenter: hey I see you're about to install the standard oak handrail, would you mind using this exotic wood instead?
  • To a mechanic: Hey I see you're about to change my oil, can you rotate my tires first?

Do you see what I am getting at? You need to have a damn good reason for interrupting execution. Damn good reasons are usually limited to safety (hey, don't use peanuts or else 2 people will be hospitalized) and money (I know you were gonna install oak but I will pay for the labor and expenses for the exotic wood so make it happen, thanks.)

I see you have tried this multiple times but your results have been absolutely futile because she resorts to being defensive due to bad timing on your part.

However, based on her cooking vegan stuff sometimes does make it clear that she is trying and being receptive to your needs so that is good news.

My suggestion is to wait until a neutral time (2PM on a Sunday maybe?) when you can bring up your dietary wants. Additionally, now would be a good time to apologize that you've been trying to interject your veganism in the middle of meal-prep. State how much you appreciate the vegan dishes that she does make. Do not place blame for her wanting to cook in a way which is familiar. If you try telling her that she is being hurtful at any point then that will result in further defensiveness. YOU need to meet half way and offer to always keep egg substitutes stocked and provide some sort of ratio chart of one egg to whatever substitute. YOU should take this time to preemptively offer to cook dessert for a week straight.

Since this conversation will be held during a neutral time, you may even request your mother to take some time on non-busy day and teach you what she knows and you can collaborate and chime in with the substitutes that you know. This way you will both learn in a safe setting.

Being vegan is YOUR want in life so you absolutely cannot expect people to bend over backwards for you. However, people are usually willing to accommodate with enough notice so always be grateful anytime anyone steps out of their comfort zone.

Think about all of the things you had to learn and internalize when you made the choice to be vegan. Asking someone else to do the same in the middle of meal-prep is quite an egregious request.

  • Thank you for your answer. I believe you are right in saying that my timing is off and I'm definitely using the ratio chart from now on :) – Noon Oct 1 at 19:03
  • @Noon You're welcome, I've seen your question hovering around the Hot Network Questions for a few days now but after seeing the answer you did accept it made me question what your real goal is so I'm glad you clarified it. – MonkeyZeus Oct 1 at 19:06
  • I must admit that I accepted the nicest answer because I was sick of people upvoting the answer telling that I was selfish (I haven't decided yet if I will change the accepted answer, I'm probably gonna wait a little more before taking a decision). – Noon Oct 1 at 19:10
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    @Noon No worries. You're only obligation is to accept the answer which helped you most; this is not a popularity contest :-) – MonkeyZeus Oct 1 at 19:12
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    This is one of the few answers here that actually focuses on communicating about the veganism with the mother, but it seems heavily focused on 'getting mom to bake vegan cake' instead of the actual question, which is 'how to communicate to mom that I find this hurtful'. Would you say the same advice is applicable in both situations? Could you perhaps then edit your answer to make it more clear in one way or another that this will communicate to the mother that Noon feels hurt? – Tinkeringbell Oct 3 at 12:53

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