Going Vegan Between A Rock And A Hard Place

After reading the book “Skinny Bitch” and realizing the crap that’s in food, working Mom wonders how to go vegan and not die of exhaustion

Rock And A Hard Place

I recently decided to go vegan after reading the book, “Skinny Bitch” and realizing the crap that is in the food I eat. However, I am between a rock and a hard place.

I have 4 kids and a full time job. I come from a family that strongly resists vegetarians, to the point of ostracizing and joking about them.

How do I follow what I believe is right for my children and myself, prepare 2 separate meals three times a day, and not die of exhaustion?

I really want to do this, but I’m worried about the fight ahead of me. I already struggle finding meals without restrictions, so finding vegan meals my family will eat without the battle feels very overwhelming.

Do you have any advice? – S.S.

Savvy Vegetarian Advice

Hi S. It’s a worthy goal to go vegan, but I think it’s something you need to do gradually. Very gradually, in your case. It should be a challenge, but not a big fight, and it certainly shouldn’t be exhausting. It should make your life better, not harder.

As you say, you don’t have just yourself to think of, which would be challenge enough. You’ve got your kids, maybe a husband (not mentioned), your full time job, and your anti-vegetarian family. You already struggle to make everybody happy, and juggle everything you have to do.

My advice is along the lines of  ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’.

First, start giving equal importance to your own needs. IMHO, a Happy Mom is a Good Mom. If you can’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of all those other people?

I’m not talking about being selfish or self-centered. I’m talking about self-love. You not only have to re-program yourself to accept that, but also your family. It doesn’t have to be a fight or a struggle, but it does need to happen. Y
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You should get some help with that – a neutral, yet empathetic person you can talk to, yoga or meditation practice, whatever works for you. Make time for yourself. It’s important.

Second: Don’t worry about going fully vegan or even vegetarian at this point. Keeping the Big Picture in mind, take practical baby steps toward your goal.

Introduce one plant based dish at a time to family meals, with the least disruptive timing and frequency. Give some thought to what your family will eat, but make it something you want to eat. It should be something they can eat with their meal, as a side. Like a salad, soup, veggie or grain dish (e.g. plain rice or noodles).
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Pitch the changes as part of a campaign to make your family’s diet healthier, more nutritious, more balanced. Don’t force them but involve them in the process, and aim for acceptance of each step. Progress over time to a meatless meal, say once a week.

After they’ve absorbed the concept of eating healthy, then introduce the topics of animal cruelty, global warming etc. Maybe watch the movie ‘Forks Over Knives’ together – but don’t preach. You’ll be more successful if you let your family make up their own minds.

Gradually reduce or eliminate red meat from your diet and the family diet first, and progress to the smaller animals. Don’t substitute tofu or other exotic foods yet. Serve more familiar foods involving beans or even eggs & cheese – e.g. bean based soups, salads, chili, sloppy joes, burritos with refried beans.

After some time, try out things like tofu burgers or stir fry with fried tofu. Make vegan desserts – they’ll never know the difference.

Savvy Veg has lot’s of kid friendly recipes!

Also, read the free Savvy Veg report, Veg and Non-Veg Eat Together, for more in-depth suggestions for blending veg and non-veg eating styles.

Please write if you have any comments or questions. And I’d love to hear from others who’ve been in similar situations.

Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian

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7 Responses to “Going Vegan Between A Rock And A Hard Place”

  1. Savvy Veg says:

    It’s true, isn’t it, Mohamjip? Men will take the easy way out – as long as they’re happy and well fed at home, they can develop astounding flexibility about the content of their meals. Good going! :-)

  2. Savvy Veg says:

    Katharine, thank you for your thoughtful response. I agree with you that pretty much things are going to happen as you’ve decided they will happen. Firmness and flexibility of mind are both necessary for success, as you’ve illustrated so well. Thanks again!

  3. Katharine Alexander says:

    One thing I have learned being vegetarian (not vegan) with a non veg husband is that 90% of the time you DON’T have to make separate meals. It takes a little restructuring of the dishes, but keeping the meat and cheese separate from the “vegan” base is entirely possible.

    For example, I will make tortilla soup. I use veg bouillon for the broth, and make the soup base. At the same time, in a separate pot/pan I have the chicken cooking. When the soup base is mixed/finished I just add a few ladles of the soup to the chicken so it absorbs the flavor. From there you can go 2 ways. 1) Keep the chicken separate and everyone adds their own meat (sometimes not an option if their is a meat hog) or 2) Separate your portion and mix up the rest. Everyone from there tops their own dish with cheese or what they want.

    Its possible to do this with pretty much everything. Where the meat and cheese or additives, or worst case scenario the meat is its own dish (like broiled salmon) and everything else is a vegan based side dish (like roasted red potatoes/simmered beans etc).

    And as hostile as your family can be, since YOU are the one cooking, you might make the rule that at least once a week they are going to suck it up and eat whatever you make without complaints or they don’t eat.

  4. Mohamjip says:

    You can try what I did … the bulk of the meal was what I was making for myself. It became the side dishes for other family members. Though I didn’t like it, if I was preparing a meal, I prepared some chicken or porkchop, etc. for the others. They didn’t notice at first. Then one day, my partner told me to not buy meat any more. He wasn’t changing to vegan, but he was willing to eat vegan at home and buy a hamburger, or whatever, when he was at work.

  5. Leo Schwaiger says:

    The Mahomet Library has a list of books, DVDs, and websites that will show the experiences of doctors and individuals who advocate lifestyle changes to improve and/or maintain health.

  6. J Kingsbury says:

    Thank you Deborah, for your wise comments!

    This is my philosophy: Going vegetarian is part of your personal evolution – your journey through life. Along the way you encounter challenges, detours, back tracking, leaps of faith, lightning bolts of inspiration, joys and sorrows. You just keep moving, keep your positive intentions in mind, and you'll get the support that you need.

  7. Deborah says:

    I found this site today while looking for a vegan slow-cooker recipe and I read of the concerns of S.S.

    S.S. the advice given is excellent, but you must have patience.

    I learned about vegetarianism at the time the book Diet for a Small Planet had spawned FML's Recipe's for a Small Planet. The book was pressed into my hand by the only other woman in our university physics class; said she was teaching a course on cooking from the book; it was 1972.

    I read cover to cover, and then embarked; since that time the "battles" with culture, family, and friends have subsided. The western world is much more veg friendly. It is now easier to prepare meals at home and to travel and to eat in restaurants as a veg. That reduces much strain, and its potential health impact. And there is the World Wide Web; people with similar experiences, those with more advanced experience to guide you along the way!
    Also, the web can provide detailed instruction on every conceivable approach to vegetarian/vegan foods and their preparation.

    It has taken me and my husband over thirty years of a vegetarian life, to travel toward a still more healthy diet as vegans! If we are patient and do not force changes on ourselves, then dietary adjustments that are made by informed decisions will support good health and well being.

    S.S perhaps the anxiety and conflict you feel will start to abate when you "embark"… prepare one of the recipes on this site as a side-dish for your family…as part of your resolve. It might be way too exhausting to prepare two sets of meals and not fair to your children to force the issue of diet with them either. Delicious food always works no matter what "diet" that food is categorized into.

    All the Best

    Deborah

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