5 Steps to Become a Vegan Family
Our family recently decided to change our eating habits and we are never going back! We made the extreme jump from full on carnivorous junkies to becoming plant based, whole food (PBWF) vicious vegans. This was a quick blossoming change and has been surprisingly successful with my 3 young children.
It’s easier than you think! As the wise Socrates once said, “The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
Here are the 5 adventurous steps you can take to becoming a PBWF vegan family:
Step 1: Get educated
Whether you’re buying a car, planning a career change, or having a baby, it’s always wise to enter any new situation with as much information as possible. When it comes to changing what you eat, you certainly have the power to get educated. For my family, it all started with a documentary.
There are a lot of really great ones out there. Forks Over Knives is the first one we watched and we were profoundly impacted by it. We began to google our hearts out and soak up as much information as possible. There is a lot of really great websites and books that will educate you on your path to veganism. Getting educated helps you get the conversation going with your loved ones, and make healthy, informed decisions that benefit everyone.
Step 2: Talk about it
Most people truly dislike being forced into something. It’s easier to make changes in your life if you make the decision yourself, based on support and good information. My husband and I apply this concept to our parenting because let’s be real – sometimes kids need a little help making the right decisions.
In the case of making the big vegan jump, we came to the decision together as a family by talking about it. We talked about all the cool stuff we learned about food. We talked about how there is a wrong way and a right way to eating a vegan diet.
We talked about superfoods, vitamins and minerals, nutrients and proteins. Gathering all your information and talking about it with your family will create enthusiasm about the change to come, and also give everyone a sense of ownership in that decision.
Step 3: Get prepared
Once you are equipped with all the knowledge you can get your hands on and have talked about it as a family, it is now time to get prepared. Your kitchen and refrigerator may need a serious makeover. Ours certainly did. If you need help with where to start, there are really great books to turn to.
A few books that we used are:The Campbell Plan by Thomas Campbell, M.D. and The McDougal Program by John A McDougall, M.D. Both books have fantastic information in them consisting of grocery lists, 12-day meal plans with recipes, tons of do’s and don’ts and lots more useful info. Getting your kitchen, cupboards and minds prepared will bring you to the next step – making the jump to veganism.
Step 4: The Jump
There we were, standing together at the edge of the vegan abyss – all 5 of us excited, scared and freaking out! New tastes were to come! A healthy future laid ahead! We held hands, took a deep breath and jumped as one. That jump took us to the grocery store.
The area we live in is by no means vegan friendly. There is no Whole Foods or Trader Joes. There is one small health food store that only has about 3 shelves. The big grocery stores we do have don’t always carry what we need. We have to make compromises sometimes on whether it’s organic or not and sometimes we have to go to several stores to get everything we need.
“I’ll never forget our first dish: Easy Spinach Lasagna. Mmmm . . .”
This may be your case as well, but don’t let that stop you. If there is a will, there is a way! As soon as you have what you need from the store, pick a dish that you think everyone will like. I’ll never forget our first dish: Easy Spinach Lasagna. Mmmm . . . what a way to start! The kids loved it and so did we. This helped us start things out on a yummy, excited note and it can for you too.
Step 5: Keep it real
We certainly can’t pretend that it’s all smooth sailing without any frustrations. Believe me – the struggle is real! Our two older girls, who are 8 and 13, are mostly willing to try new dishes. They usually do so happily, with typical brutal kid honesty. They don’t always like what is made but neither do us adults. Our youngest son, who is 5, isn’t so willing, and sometimes he is not so happy or excited to try all the recipes. Some nights dinner is awesome and we get up from the table with full bellies and happy faces. Other nights it can be frustrating and downright tearful.
It’s a work in progress, full of trial and error. But isn’t all of parenting or life, for that matter?
After all that we’ve experienced, here are a few final tips we’ve found useful to help you on your path towards becoming a PBWF vegan family:
• Stay consistent! Have your kids try everything you make. You never know what recipe will be a new favorite.
• Chop it up! Chop up items they don’t like but need into super small pieces. The smaller the pieces, the less they will notice it in their food and they will eat it without even knowing (queue evil laugh . . . Muahahahahaha!).
• Stay adventurous and positive with an open mind! Your willingness to try new things without fear will help your kids do so also, and trying different recipes all the time makes it exciting and fun.
• Involve everyone in the kitchen! The more they know about how their food is made, the more excited they will be to try it. Plus it’s fun to create something delicious together.
• Lastly, relax! Some nights we don’t want to cook and think it would be easier to eat out, so we do. It’s ok to eat yummy food that’s not so good for us sometimes. Setting the boundary and expectation that foods like that are for special occasions actually makes it that much yummier.
After taking these steps, we’ve been a happy PBWF vegan family for going on 6 months now. Overall my family has benefited from the change. We are healthier and have more energy. My husband has lost 40 pounds and I myself have dropped 25.
We are closer because we are doing the journey together and all 5 of us agree that we will never go back to the way we ate before.I hope these steps are helpful to you and your family if and when you decide to make the leap towards PBWF veganism.
Here are some links to websites and items we found to be of great assistance to us during our journey:
• The China Study
• The Campbell Plan
• The McDougall Program
• Forks Over Knives The Cookbook
Questions or comments? Shout ‘em out below! We would love to hear from you and keep the conversation going!