Q.What are the best suggestions you have for new vegetarians/aspiring vegan to creating meals my carnivore family will enjoy?
A. I get this question A LOT because being the only vegan in a carnivore family can be difficult at first! Not only do I get this question a lot, I have a lot of different answers I can offer depending on you and your family’s personality! But to keep things simple, we’ll start out slow, with two of my favorite suggestions, two that I’ve used with a non-vegan/non-vegetarian family and group of friends.
My number one rule for new vegans and vegetarians is: DONT SERVE THE FAKE ALTERNATIVES.
I’ll repeat DONT SERVE THE FAKE ALTERNATIVES. Okay, you may think I’m nuts for saying this (and I may be!), but as tempting as these pre-packaged, ready to go alternatives are, they’re not going to help you or your carnivore family, right now. Your family is most likely weirded out by your new decision to give up meat (congrats on taking the plunge btw, you will not regret it!), but they’ll be even more weirded out by food that looks like what they’re used to eating, but in reality, tastes very little like it.
Don’t get wrong, I love Tofurkey sandwiches and a holiday roast around the holidays, but it took me a long time to like them. When I first became vegan (a little over 6 years ago!), I was super excited to taste and test all the crazy alternatives out there from vegan cheeses, yogurts, milks, meats, the works! BUT, it was hard. As a new vegan, I was still used to the textures, flavors and all my memories tied to the original foods, not these awkward substitutes.
But, with time, the memories and cravings pass and you replace those with new ones, plus think about what you’re gaining, life. You’re not only giving life to those animals who may have suffered, and improving the environment, but you’re also giving more life to yourself by making yourself healthier and happier. So, bottom line, instead of reaching for the boca burger in the frozen food aisle, try making a homemade burger instead.
In my experiences, vegans, vegetarians, and flexitarians alike all appreciate a veggie burger. Here’s one of my favorite recipes here! Another route is by doing the standard vegan/vegetarian dishes that come vegan/vegetarian, like a pasta dish, this one is a popular! Or opt for a soup, like this decadent, comforting favorite!
But just remember that this is your journey and you’re not alone! If your carnivore family isn’t quite on board just yet, give them time, think about how long it took you to join the veggie wagon! But always remember that this is a process, a lifestyle change is always a work in progress, so don’t overwhelm yourself, keep your steps small and count and celebrate every single victory along the way!
Suggestion 2: Don’t go the other route either, the route where you try to be super health conscious super quickly.
Ok, this isn’t the Biggest Loser, this is you and your journey. I know so many vegans and vegetarians who decided to make the switch for purely health reasons, which is great, but it can be problematic for those in your carnivore family if you decide to turn pizza night into kale night. Just remember to keep everything in moderation when you’re first starting out, which means don’t try to make every single dish a kale based salad, yes I love kale, but not for every single meal, raw.
Think about it this way, have you ever tried a fad diet? Well, I have and they suck! I never stick with those, and if you treat veganism/vegetarianism as a fad diet, it’ll suck not only for you, but also for your family! It can be a challenge as a new vegetarian/vegan and so if you’re feeling limited in what you can and can’t eat it can cause irritation and resentment, and if your family isn’t 100% on board with you, and you sacrifice pizza Fridays for kale salads, they might start to resent your new life choices a bit too.
Just remember to mix things up, instead of a heavy delivery pizza, try making your own instead with fresh veggies! Or, instead of eating cauliflower steaks, try this cauliflower mac and cheese instead (your family won’t even realize it’s healthy!). I’m 100% for eating healthy and balanced, but you have to remember to take it easy, bake your family some vegan chocolate chip cookies, and celebrate your journey. It’s all in the baby steps.
Just be the leader and eventually your family will come along! It can be difficult being the only vegan in a carnivore family, but it is totally doable and inspiring!
It’s always been my philosophy: lead by example! If they see you happy and healthy, chances are they’ll want in on it too! Just give them a little bit of extra time to catch up and in the meantime do the best you can with your favorite vegan/vegetarian alternatives.
Have you ever struggled being the only vegan in your family? What did/do you do?
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