All Aboard The Plant Based Train!
Updated: Apr 4, 2018
Transitioning to a plant-based diet can be challenging enough then when you add feeding a family to the mix it can feel like you are trying to fill a bucket full of holes with water! IMPOSSIBLE! If you’re lucky, your partner or kids might be happy to get on board with this new healthy way of eating, and possibly even be motivated by wanting to do more for the planet and animals. If healthy eating has always been the norm in your household, then the changes you make might not be a very big deal (in fact, they may even go unnoticed!) However, if these are major dietary changes that you're implementing then you have to get creative! There are several ways that you and your family can approach the transition to a whole foods plant-based diet. You may just want to include more plant-based meals, rather than diving in head first. If this is the case, you won't have to give the process much forethought and I absolutely found this the best way to start! However, if you have decided to make the change to be completely plant-based I think it’s best to just NOT say anything at all. Especially if you are the one preparing the meals! You might find that they are simply happy enough to eat whatever you cook! Keep in mind that the best way to win anyone over is by delivering tasty foods, so finding recipes they enjoy will make a huge difference! When it comes to children, your approach needs to be tailored according to their age and eating preference. As their parent, you can probably predict the most likely outcome! Regardless of the situation, these simple tips are designed to help you and your family in the transitioning process:
1. Make a list of meals they already love that just happen to be plant based or vegan! Think Italian dishes like pasta and sauce, Mexican like bean burritos, pasta vegetable salad, peanut butter and jelly,soups, chilli, baked French fries,sandwiches and pancakes for example!
2. Develop a dinner roster, and allow different family members to take turns picking out recipes and meals. The more involved they are, the more likely it is that your family will take an interest in what they’re eating.
3. Make easy swap outs that will go under the radar! The first easy swap that literally no one noticed was swapping out cheese for nut cheese! Grilled cheese , pizza , mac&cheese and nachos are all examples of dishes kids love and the nut cheeses out there are so yummy no one will be able to tell the difference!
4. Watch some Netflix! Plan a movie night! Start by talking about the health benefits of a plant-based diet, or even animal welfare issues if that aspect appeals to your family. Adolescents may also enjoy watching relevant documentaries, such as Forks Over Knives Plant Pure Nation and What the Health.
5. Check out local plant based and vegan restaurants! It’s always great to have a back up place when you are too tired to cook! I also find inspiration in their menus!
6. Plan your family's lunches, so they can keep up their healthy eating habits at school and work. Sandwiches, salads, or dinner leftovers are great options for adults. When it comes to kid’s lunch boxes, fruits, nuts, seeds, sandwiches, and raw veggies with hummus are all excellent staples. You can rotate some baked goods once in a while as well!
7. Prepare plant-based versions of familiar items, to ease the transition.
• For toddlers and pre-schoolers, preparing familiar foods means they are less likely to notice abrupt changes, or be overly challenged by unusual ingredients. Fruits, vegetables, whole grain cereals, mashed potato and pasta with tomato sauce are all common examples of kid-friendly plant-based foods.
• Children that are older will have developed certain food preferences, so it’s a good idea to try and cater to these in the early stages. Plant-based versions of familiar family meals may include: Pizza, burritos, tacos, pasta and sauce and veggie burgers with baked fries!
• You may choose to also include some faux veggie “meats” such as soy sausages, chicken-chunks or deli slices. Though they're not nearly as healthy as grains or legumes, they can make the transition process easier. Most supermarkets and health food stores now carry a large range of these products; just be sure to look for those that are free from dairy and eggs, and go for options that have the lowest fat and sodium content. Finally go online!!! Join some online plant based and vegan communities to share and discover recipes and tips!