Learning how to be vegan in a non vegan household takes time, patience and compromising. But according to our guest expert it can be done!
It isn’t easy being the only one to eat a certain way in your house. I learned this when I began my gluten-free journey. But it is possible!
Stephanie Dreyer is a meal planning expert and the founder of Batch Cooking Club™, a weekly plant-based meal prep membership. She helps busy parents make dinner easier by providing weekly plans and recipes without time consuming prep.
Stephanie is also the award-winning author of the vegan picture books, Not A Nugget and Not A Purse, (both available on Amazon). Stephanie lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three children, who are not vegan.
She’s a pro at balancing her vegan lifestyle while feeding her omni family, and loves to help other families juggling the daily challenge of making healthy, homemade meals.
Living with a Non Vegan
Stephanie has been vegan for 11 years. When she changed her diet, the rest of her family (including her kids ages 1, 4, and 6) did not. Her oldest daughter went vegetarian about 5 years after, and then the rest of her family continues to eat a mix of everything.
Stephanie didn’t feel good in her body and wanted to change. She made the change overnight and told her family she was going from vegetarian to full vegan.
Even though her husband was very supportive, there was tension due to how Stephanie approached food within the family. It started as a forced lifestyle, but she quickly realized that wasn’t working.
Now, she doesn’t force her lifestyle on them, but instead educates about her choices.
Over time, her husband has slowly started to eat more plant-based and her daughter has gone vegetarian.
Change can be hard, but having an open conversation with your family will help. Especially with children who may not understand. Different people view things differently, so it may be hard to understand why others may not make the same changes.
Others may also not understand the nutrition behind it and can give advice based on misunderstanding. However judgement can go both ways, others judging you and you judging them.
Differences in Ethical Values
When you transition to eating vegan based on ethical values, it makes it harder. Everyone has different opinions and views, so it can be hard to understand why your family doesn’t see things like you do.
Getting together with your family to talk openly without judgment is helpful. Dictating rules can make others defensive and make it harder to live in harmony.
Setting up some ground rules is a good first step, things that help everyone feel comfortable. Showing respect for each others choices is really important, even if you don’t agree.
Compromising with Different Diets
Setting up some ground rules and expectations can really help avoid arguments and resentment. Here are a few things that Stephanie and her family do that helps:
- Having separate pots and pans
- Setting separate sponges for cleaning
- When planning dinners make sure everyone feels included
- “Don’t yuck each others yums” meaning do not say negative things about what the other person is eating
If we want to spread our message, we need to step back from the extremist views. This pushes people away and can actually produce the opposite effect.
Leading by example, teaching and showing will help others make their own decisions and perhaps allow them to move more towards a plant-based diet on their own.
It is possible to make one meal and satisfy all types of eaters! There are many strategies starting from the planning process that are helpful.
When planning meals, each person can contribute. Making the meal plant-centered and building upon that for those that eat meat or dairy will help.
If the person who doesn’t eat animal products isn’t comfortable cooking them, those that do can make that portion of the meal.
Here are some examples of things you can make:
- Taco and burrito bars
- Build your own salads and bowls
- Pizza night where everyone can make their own
- Chili and soup bars
- Build your own nachos