Our fifteen-year-old daughter came to me this summer and asked, “Mom, let’s say I want to save the planet. Would you be okay with me going vegan?”
She presented me with a list of supplements she would need (B12, Vitamin D) and her grocery preferences and meal ideas.
I wasn’t surprised. I was kind of excited. She’s an idealist, like me. And, also like me, enjoys challenging the status quo.
So I told her yes, that would be fine. I was more than happy to accommodate her dietary choices. Her father – my partner – was more skeptical, but has been pleasantly surprised by many of the vegan dishes.
Our fifteen-year-old is the only member of our family of five who is a dedicated vegan. I’d like to reassure families out there that it’s easier than ever to accommodate an individual’s plant-based diet even while the rest of the household still eats meat and dairy.
Here’s how we keep things simple (and flavorful):
Start by finding vegan versions of your family’s favorite recipes.
Don’t start out by forcing everyone to eat tempeh, tofu, and cheese substitutes right away. Ease them into the idea by experimenting with plant-based versions of their favorites. A quick Google search will yield you hundreds, if not thousands of vegan-ized versions of traditional American family favorites, without fake meat, fermented soy, or fake cheese.
Serve meat and dairy separately, or as garnish.
Whenever possible, we’ll cook a primarily vegan meal, and cook the meat separately.
For example, when I roast a chicken, I cook it separately from the sides. I bake a flavorful vegan dressing with lots of herbs and vegetable broth. I fix some garlicky chickpeas or northern beans in the Instant Pot, make vegan mushroom gravy, and a spinach and strawberry salad with walnuts and vinaigrette.
When I fix vegan chili or soup, I cook any meat separately and serve it as a garnish, alongside cheese or sour cream.
For home cooks, you need not worry about a loss of flavor or mealtime inspiration. Lots of global cuisines are vegan-friendly. And if you have internet access, you have millions of recipes at your fingertips.
Here are some examples of global vegan-friendly, whole grain, and plant-heavy cuisines with easy-to-find ingredients:
- South Indian
- Mediterranean (Southern Italy, Greece, Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia, and more!)
- Mexican and Tex-Mex
- Asian (Vietnam, India, Thailand, Japan, and more!)
Follow vegan influencers for tips and recipes.
Plant-based influencers want to make veganism as simple, healthy, and delicious as possible so it appeals to more people.
- Tabitha Brown is my favorite at the moment. Her energy is infectious.
- Miyoko Schinner of Miyoko’s Creamery not only makes tasty dairy substitutes, but also posts plenty of recipes, including comfort foods.
- Isa Chandra Moskowitz is a vegan cookbook queen and NYC restaurateur.
Oreos are vegan.
Need I say more?
New Pioneer Co-op has incredible vegan cakes, pies, and pastries to go, perfect for special occasions (or, just because you want pie or cake).
Other quick tips:
- Don’t let family members make fun of or shame your child’s dietary choices. It’s unkind.
- In the same vein, the plant-based family member should not make fun of or shame meat and dairy eaters’ dietary choices.
- Plan on bringing at least one or two plant-based dishes to big holiday gatherings, birthday parties, and potluck dinners.
- Use this as an opportunity to help your kids learn to cook.
- Enjoy becoming a healthier, more creative cook and eater!
Do you have any tips we missed? Share them with us below!
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