Transitioning your entire family to a vegan diet is not a simple process. For most people, the first thing that comes to mind is shifting to some obscure commune and surviving on lentils. However, going the plant-based route can actually be exciting. More importantly, the vegan lifestyle offers healthier options for families. The thing is, for a family that is used to meat and dairy products, the shift can seem like a daunting task. If you embraced veganism and plan to introduce it to those you love and care for, here are suggestions to help make it less unnerving.
What’s a Plant-Based Diet?
The switch to plant-based diets is becoming more popular with more than a third of U.S. consumers, including celebrities trying to go vegan. So, if you’re wondering what a plant-based diet entails, think of whole plants.
These include legumes, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, herbs, spices, whole grains, and of course, vegetables and fruits. A vegan diet is devoid of animal products.
Here are some of the benefits of plant-based diets:
- Prevents, and reverses, advanced stage cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes
- Helps with sustainable weight management
- Lowers the risk of heart disease
- Reduces the risk of mortality
- Prevents hypertension and high cholesterol
Strategies to Help You Easily Transition to a Vegan Diet Talk About it
Communication is key in everything you do. The first step is to raise the issue with your family and discuss it. Let them understand your reasons for becoming a vegan in the first place and why they should join you. For instance, let them know the health benefits of plant-based foods, such as they are good for your waistline, heart, and overall health. Without understanding the why, it’s going to be an uphill task. There might be some resistance at first, but the more they understand the facts behind it, the easier it will be to convince them. Avoid discussing this issue over a meal. Certainly, don’t talk about it all the time. They will need time to adjust and bringing up the subject every time is going to get on their nerves. By all means, lead by example. Soon the positive changes will start to manifest themselves, and once your family starts to take notice, they will be more inclined to try out your vegan recipes.
Learn the Benefits of Vegan Lifestyle
You can’t teach your family about the benefits of going vegan if you don’t have all the information. There are dozens of reasons to become vegan. Invest in educating yourself about vegan practices. Seek out vegan documentaries, read vegan books, listen to vegan experts, read magazines and blogs. All these are rich sources of information for the vegan lifestyle.
Share your thoughts carefully and try to stay calm. Don’t simply drop your normal meals for vegan diets. It might be too much to handle. Start with one or two plant-based meals a week, like oatmeal, bean and rice burrito, lentil stew, and veggie stir-fry. Build on these meals in slow progression to create a habit. Don’t put any pressure on those you want to switch. Let them enjoy the vegan diets, and soon they won’t even realize you stopped using beef or dairy products because they no longer miss them.
Start with One Meal Per Day
Another approach is to include at least one vegan meal per day. You can opt for a plant-based breakfast, like waffles, pancakes, toasts, or smoothies. With time, introduce a plant-based lunch or dinner by trying out tantalizing recipes that your family won’t resist.
Plan in Advance
The last thing you want is to surprise your family with a plant-based diet only for them to reject it. To avoid this, create a weekly meal plan and place it in a visible area. This will help prepare their minds for what to expect come dinner time. You can ask your kids to write a list of their favorite fruits and vegetables and make a point of including at least one item from the list with every meal. This gives them an option that they enjoy, making it easier for them to try out the new vegan diet.
Keep it Simple
When starting out, don’t go overboard with the type of vegan foods you cook. Stick to foods they are already used to but replace beef and dairy products with plant-based alternatives. For instance, you can try burgers using veggie patties, replace butter with olive oil, and use vegan cheese instead of dairy parm. You can also try a veggie lasagna or a burrito loaded with crisp veggies. Better yet, share vegan plant-based success stories like weight loss, which many people struggle with.
There are many benefits associated with a vegan lifestyle. When introducing plant-based diets to your family, don’t push them. Be as gentle and understanding as possible. Starting out might not be easy, but with good preparation and planning, veganism will soon become part of your family tradition.
All images by Shutterstock