I have not always eaten the way that I do today. In fact I do not and have never considered myself a vegan. I am a plant-based eater that eats vegan food. But I still love a sushi date with my girls and I especially enjoy local seafood when traveling. I don’t eat a ton of baked goods, but let me tell you I won’t let eggs or dairy stop me from occasionally enjoying a decadent piece of cake or Lord help me a bread pudding….MMMMMMMM!! I never eat meat and cannot even tolerate a spoonful of dairy ice cream (found out the latter the hard way- funny story for another time). As you can see, that is not a strict vegan diet. When it comes to your diet, I say, DO YOU. No label needed. My priority is all about eating for nutrition and that means a diet heavily focused on nourishing plant-based foods.
My transition to a plant-based diet was gradual (read the full story here: How I transitioned to a plant based diet). I used to eat poultry, seafood, eggs and dairy all of that kind of thing. In my early 30’s my grandmother got colon cancer which eventually took her life. Ever since I’ve made a personal commitment to myself that I wanted to move towards a plant-based diet; eliminating poultry, dairy, including cheese, refined sugar, and processed food. I feel very strongly that what we put inside our bodies has the potential to heal and conversely the potential to harm. My decision to transition to a plant-based diet is a personal one.
Each of us will have our own personal journey, but I am happy to give a little insight to mine. As many of you know, I am married with two daughters. At the time I made this commitment to myself, May, my oldest, was in high school and Xia, my youngest, was in middle school. My daughters eat poultry and seafood. They continue to eat eggs and cheese and Mike, my husband, eats everything except seafood. So yeah, we have a lot of different eaters in our household. But ya know what babes, it’s not impossible to feed everyone!!
What it Takes to Successfully Commit to a Plant-Based Diet in a House Full of Meat Eaters
I believe what it takes to be a vegan or plant-based eater in a household of meat eaters is very simple – it takes resolve and planning.
- Make that personal commitment to yourself
- Know that you are the non-conformist, and that’s OK.
- Remind yourself – It’s a process. It’s not the end of the world, you can & will figure it out!!
- Be open minded. Things are not always going to be perfect.
- Resolve that this new diet is not a trend, it is your new normal. Your new forever lifestyle.
Creating a “New Normal”
Creating a new normal is basically the crux of being a plant-based or vegan eater. Your new normal is going to mean thinking ahead and planning your meals. If you are a vegan eater/plant-based eater or if you have any kind of dietary issues, restrictions, limitations however you wanna call it – this is your responsibility. This is something that is important to you and so therefore it is up to you to make sure that in whatever setting you are in, you have food you’re willing to eat and enjoy. We cannot place that responsibility on others. I made my transition to a plant-based diet while also traveling the world half the year, so it is 1000% possible to adhere to a vegan lifestyle and still travel, have a family, socialize, go to parties etc.
Because this is your new normal you’re going to take steps to make sure that when you are in these environments or if you are traveling that you are not making everyone else around you miserable because of your personal dietary commitments. You are gonna take full responsibility and be flexible. Nobody wants to be around someone who is always going on about their dietary needs, it gets old. My work colleagues would have gotten seriously tired of me if I always made my lifestyle their problem, like no way!! Unacceptable babes. Be cool, try not to be a drag. Plan ahead. Bring along your own food if need be. And most importantly know that it might not always be perfect, and that’s ok too.
Keep Your Home Stocked with Vegan Friendly Alternatives
It will be impossible to commit to your diet without making sure your home is stocked with plenty of plant-based and vegan friendly alternatives. If you don’t do the grocery shopping in your home, make sure you share your grocery list with the person who does. Honestly, since my diet is primarily plant-based with loads of greens and veggies these are all nutritional foods that my whole family can enjoy. However, since I don’t regularly consume milk or dairy it’s important to make sure that my kitchen is always stocked with my vegan friendly alternatives to these everyday kitchen staples.
My Favorite Vegan Friendly Kitchen Staples:
- Butter: Earth Balance Vegan Butter
- Milk: Oatly Oat Milk
- Bread: Food for Life Flourless Sprouted Grain Bread
- Yogurt: Forager Cashewmilk Yogurt
- Cheese: Misha’s Non-Dairy Cheese (I don’t buy vegan cheese very often but when I do, it’s from Misha’s. Their ingredients are very clean and SUPER DELICIOUS)
- Egg Replacer for Baking: Spectrum Essentials Organic Ground Flaxseed or Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer
- Ice Cream: Must Love Oats Ice Cream (all of their flavors are amazing but LOVE the chocolate)
Tips for Cooking for a Plant-Based Diet In House Full of Meat Eaters
SO How do you make that work? For me it was very simple. As the person who did the primary cooking in the house i.e. the weekly meal planning, I took steps to make it easy on myself. I opted to cook meals that I could adjust to being vegan. For example, If you’re like us, pasta night is on regular rotation. I love making a pasta dish with fresh veggies in it like baby tomatoes, zucchini or broccoli (check out my Quick & Easy, Healthy Rigatoni Recipe). Then typically I cook let’s say chicken sausage separately for anyone that wants a meat option and we always have a hunk of parm in the fridge that can be grated on top of each serving. More recently I have also subbed ground beef dishes with Impossible meat as I do with my Vegan Stuffed Bell Pepper Recipe. My non-vegan family enjoys the taste of Impossible Meat so it’s a meat free dish we can all enjoy.
The coolest thing is, your new plant-based lifestyle is a great opportunity to introduce more plant based options to your household while also exploring new recipes & ingredients as a family or group. You’d be surprised how many meals we eat in my home that are 100% vegan and we all LOVE IT!!! The key here is planning. However you structure your meals plan accordingly. Be like, OK I’m gonna make XYZ for my family and I’m going to convert that XYZ into a vegan portion myself. Also, keep the ingredients or foods that you like having on hand for yourself. I love making large pots of soup for myself and freezing portions of it. This way I can pop it out for my dinner and then make let’s say fried panko chicken breasts for everyone else. Simple adjustments like these allow me to be a good caregiver to my family but also be a good caregiver to myself.
Truth be told, I have found it remarkably easy over the years to continue my “forever lifestyle.” My family and friends are supportive and don’t give me shit about it. I believe this has a lot to do with me taking responsibility for my own dietary needs while also incorporating them into my veggie-world!! Because EVERYONE loves my vegan falafels!! LOL!! Are you thinking of switching to a plant based or vegan diet? What are you biggest challenges?