The art of gentle conversing is much like preparing someone’s coffee in the morning.
It’s a small, serene act of kindness, but its warmth can subtly (and beautifully) decorate the day to come.
Unfortunately, unlike brewing coffee, finding ways to remain calm and speak respectfully in the middle of a fight is not always easy—but gratitude can help.
Gratitude softens the words surrounding it and sheds light on our deepest intentions.
It is my guiding light when it comes to gentle self-expression.
After years of blowout fights and fruitless arguments, I’ve realized one thing matters most when disagreeing with a loved one—our relationship.
If it comes down to winning, compromising or just “agreeing to disagree.” I always choose the one that leads to the tightest hug goodbye. It’s easier said than done, but it’s completely worth it.
Gratitude is a purposeful way to navigate whatever issue I need to address—or let go of—with someone.
So I wrote this letter to my father to express gratitude, respect and (despite his dismay) my decision to remain a vegan. I hope it helps all the caring non-vegans out there who worry about the well-being of their vegan counterparts.
More importantly, I hope it serves as inspiration for any relationship carrying both love and opposing views. Some fights cannot be won, but consideration and gratitude assures us that we can leave the battle with pride and much fewer casualties.
Gentle expression is far from conceding—it’s magnificently forceful.
It’s standing in our truth with love rather than anger.
Not a day goes by that I don’t attribute some part of my wonderfully vibrant and exciting life to you. You have made an indelible impact on the woman I am today, and for that, I am eternally grateful.
I know the vegan lifestyle is not what you had in mind for the dark-haired, thick-eyebrowed Italian daughter you raised on supersaud and spaghetti with meat sauce. But I impute a large part of this decision to your lessons of showing empathy and kindness to those around us. I know veganism seems very extreme to you, but I assure you it comes purely from a place of compassion—a quality I know you value.
Despite working long hours Monday through Friday, on weekends I watched as you donated both your time and money to causes and events that helped others. While my more animal-conscious eating habits and spending choices may not change the world, I’ve learned from your example that a positive impact of any size is worthwhile and important.
Growing up, every meal we had together started with vegetables. You’d always serve them first (to ensure we’d eat them), claiming that you were still cooking the rest of the meal. Steamy sweet peas and carrots, broccoli with garlic and oil, grilled asparagus. You took a young, hungry girl and taught her not only how to eat her vegetables, but how to love them.
While some vegans have a hard time with the increased vegetable intake, you made modifying my food choices less extreme for me than most.
You taught me the power of knowledge and discernment. This ultimately lead me to the discovery of the unfair practices of the meat and dairy industry. You showed me how to make informed decisions by reading multiple sources and digging for the complete story.
I’m open to discussing my findings with you. If not, just know you have instilled an inquisitiveness in me that never settles for one person’s or group’s opinion.
Dad, you have taught me so much. I value your viewpoint and validate your concerns. We don’t always understand each other, but you are still so important to me and I strive each and every day to be a daughter whose choices you can view with pride.
I treasure the guidance you gave me growing me up. I may have chosen more unconventional paths, but they are paths I couldn’t have navigated without you.
I hope you know you have raised a kid capable of making safe and healthy vegan choices. I hope you know that I love you, and I am always, always listening to what you have to say.
From your radically vegan daughter, with love.
Author: Alexandra Pellegrino
Assistant Editor: Hilda Carroll/Editor: Yoli Ramazzina