Living with Non-Vegans

Living With Non-Vegans: What’s a Person to Do?

When I went plant-based over 10 years ago, my husband did not bat an eye; he joined me immediately on my journey to vibrant health.  Not everyone is that fortunate.

The following are typical of comments I hear when speaking at events: “My spouse eats the Standard American Diet (SAD) and thinks I’m crazy for going plant-based” and “My children won’t eat the plant foods I make so what’s a parent to do?”

Clearly, there is no “one size fits all” approach to transitioning to a whole food plant-based lifestyle. To be sure, some will find it easier to make the change than others.  A gradual shift may work best for many.  However, those with serious health conditions would be well advised to adopt this regimen sooner rather than later given the immediate health benefits that will ensue.

So how do you do that when there is opposition in your own home to your decision to go plant-based?  You lead by example.  Continue creating foods that you enjoy and make them available to your family.  There are so many tasty recipes that mimic SAD foods without the attendant health consequences.  For example, macaroni and “cheese,” seitan ribs, plant burgers, spaghetti with plant meat-like balls, tacos, lasagna, mashed potatoes with gravy, vegetable stir-fry, pancakes, soup, and banana “nice cream,” to name a few.  Try engaging your family in conversation about why you are eating this way, and ask them to suggest foods they love that you can modify to make them healthier.

Getting your spouse and children involved in cooking with you is another way of making the experience joyful.  I have found this to be true when I cook with my two older grandchildren.  They get a kick out of creating new things and have been open to trying them.  For example, we make our own almond milk together whenever I visit them in Ohio.  My grandson said to me one day, “Grandma, is it time to milk the almonds?”  We have also enjoyed creating fruit art that the kids proudly display on the dinner table as we all dig in!

It is also important to remind yourself that you are not obligated to make foods for your family that you cannot eat.  If you are the primary grocery shopper, you get to decide what foods you purchase.  Hopefully, over time, your family will adjust their eating habits to be more in line with yours.  If your spouse or children (who are old enough to be in the kitchen) want animal foods, they can shop for them and make them for themselves. They also have the option of ordering those foods at restaurants.  The point is that you do not have to be the one supplying or enabling poor food choices.

One final thought:  food should never become a battleground in your home.  You can maintain your healthy eating habits while respecting the rights of others.  By doing so, you are planting the seeds for a healthier future for your family members.

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