How to start a plant-based diet with my family?

how to start a plant based diet with my family

Starting a plant-based journey with your family, big or small, young or old, may feel a bit like a tall order at first. It’s like trying to herd kittens – everyone has their own tastes and schedules. Taking the first steps toward adopting a plant-based lifestyle may appear challenging initially, particularly when it involves guiding your whole family along this path, from the smallest tots to the eldest members, along this path.

But let me tell you, it’s not only doable, it can actually be fun and so good for everyoneโ€™s health (most importantly). It’s a bit like teaching the kids a new game – there will be some rules to learn and adjustments to make, but before you know it, you’ll all be playing along happily. With careful planning and gradual changes, you can incorporate plant-based eating habits into your family’s life, embracing the diversity of flavors and textures that this diet offers.

How to start a plant-based diet with my family?

Educate yourself and your family

First thing you want to do is educate. Start by understanding why you want to move to a plant-based diet. Whether it’s for health, ethical, or environmental reasons, being clear on this can help you stay motivated and also explain your reasons to your family. There are numerous books, documentaries, and websites about plant-based nutrition that can be helpful.

Below are some documentaries that can get you started in teaching your family the importance of a plant based diet and all the health benefits:

Documentaries:

Forks over knives

  1. Forks Over Knives (2011): Available on Tubi – This documentary explores the science behind a plant-based diet and its health benefits.
  2. What The Health (2017): Available on Netflix – This documentary uncovers the impacts of processed industrial animal foods on our health and environment.
  3. The Game Changers (2018): Available on Netflix – This film explores the myth that meat is necessary for protein, strength, and optimal health from the perspective of body builders and athletes such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Wilks.
  4. Cowspiracy (2014): This film is a bit more oriented towards adults, but it explores the environmental impacts of animal agriculture. There are some mildly graphic animal cruelty scenes but overall, this documentary is super informative.
  5. Vegucated (2011): This documentary follows three meat-and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. It is more geared towards the animal cruelty side of things so be prepared and parental guidance is advised.

Don’t starve yourself

a plate of raw vegetables

Often times when people start a plant based/vegan diet they start eating plain boring raw cut broccoli, carrot sticks and celery sticks. Boring. Funny enough, this is exactly how I started almost a decade ago trying to be healthy with my husband. For lunch, we used to pack a zip lock bag full of chopped up raw broccoli, cauliflower and carrot sticks. ๐Ÿคฎ This is the wrong way to do it!

Get it out of your head that you will starve – You will NOT starve yourself no matter what! Find foods that are tasty and simple you can start with and remember there’s a ton of recipes to try out! Which leads us to the next point.

Discover new recipes

We are stuck and addicted to these meat heavy foods why? Simply because it tastes good. There’s something about the fats from meat products and dairy that keeps us wanting more. It seems juicy and succulent and advertised everywhere as this incredible thing everyone should eat.
In reality, this is what’s making us sick. It’s the food, it’s how animals are treated and how we prepare the foods for our every day consumption.

chick pea salad

We live in an age where there’s arguably billions of whole food, plant based recipes that are not only delicious but seriously good for you!

Go on Pinterest, Google, use whatever search engine you like and start joining Facebook groups and you will find a plethora of new recipes you wouldn’t think would be good unless you try them. Then once you’ve discovered exactly what you and your family loves, create a recipe book or start writing them down one by one so you can keep track and have them on rotation every week.

Start them young

kid showing off his spelt cracker design

This is my favorite tip because it’s what I’ve experienced with our own 5 children.
When we first started, our children’s ages ranged from 4-11 years old and they were all born and raised eating meat and dairy products, and since we begun homesteading we consumed even more.
I noticed it was a little harder for the older ones, especially our 11 year old because they already had a developed taste for meat. He would have sporadic cravings for foods such as In n’ Out, Popeyes and would always look for alternatives of such foods and dairy because it was in his system. His body was longing for it.
As for the younger kiddos, they didn’t get the full exposure to these foods as much as the older ones and when we stopped feeding it to them, they didn’t really crave it or ask for it as much!

Involve your family in meal planning and cooking

Invite all family members to join in meal planning and cooking. This promotes a sense of ownership and excitement towards the shift to a plant-based diet. Discuss food preferences, share the benefits of plant-based meals, and brainstorm fun recipe ideas together.

During cooking, assign tasks that suit each family member’s age and ability. Even simple chores, like washing veggies or setting the table, can make the little ones feel involved. For older kids, let them take on bigger roles like chopping ingredients or even preparing an entire dish.

Turn the kitchen into a fun family hub where you all can learn about healthy food, teamwork, and the joy of cooking. You could even create a family cookbook filled with your plant-based recipes. Remember, it’s not about perfection, but about enjoying this journey towards healthier eating together.

Lead by example

rustic spelt soda bread

Set the tone by showing your family how excited and committed you are to this new plant-based lifestyle. Your enthusiasm is contagious – if you’re eager about the delicious new recipes and the health benefits, your family will likely follow suit.

Attitude is the key to success – if you have a bad attitude towards this change and you’re constantly looking for alternatives or dragging your feet and sighing, it’s not going to encourage your family now is it?

Highlight the colorful veggies, the fun recipes, and the energy you’re feeling. And remember, it’s okay to have ups and downs – it’s about progress, not perfection. Your positive attitude will inspire your family to embrace this journey with you.

What NOT to do while converting to a plant based diet

We can give you all the tips in the world to get you going, but what are some things to avoid while converting to a plant based diet?

  • Don’t temp yourself – for many foodies I know such as myself, I tend to scroll on social media and I always linger on the most delicious looking foods even though they’re not plant based foods. Instead, look for plant-based recipes and accounts that do cook delicious plant based recipes and engulf yourself in that content instead.
  • Don’t settle – if you found a recipe you tried and you hated it but know “oh, this is just so healthy for me and I should eat it every day.” no. Don’t settle for something you truly don’t enjoy cooking or eating. Instead, go explore! There’s a trillion and one ways to cook a broccoli, a million and 5 ways to make a vegan curry and a thousand and 2 ways to make a healthy vegan brownie.
  • Don’t stick to one food – Diversify yourself and your palette! There are more colorful fruits and vegetables than there are meats you can eat you know, eat the rainbow, find exotic foods if you can and try those, try different combinations of certain ingredients!

Conclusion

Remember this is a lifestyle change, and it’s a decision you and your family need to make together and in order to make this work – it’s going to have to be a full on team effort.
If you want support, be sure to hit me up via email sayhello@haipath.com and I’d love to help in anyway I can!

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