It can be a little difficult to live under the same roof as someone who isn’t vegan or vegetarian, particularly if that person is your husband or wife, or your children. The reason it can be hard is you often have to make two dinners and, as every parent knows, it’s hard enough making ONE healthy dinner let alone two.
Here are some tips for living with a non-vegan family:
They may not be vegan now, but that doesn’t mean they will never be vegan. As vegans, we tend to hold our tongue when with non-vegan friends, family and at work. At home, however, there are more opportunities to let something slip that might upset someone in the family. This could lead to a fight and a few hours of frosty silence, and nobody wants that environment in their home.
Sometimes it’s best to try a passive approach, so try not to accuse your family members of murder as it probably won’t encourage them to go vegan, it’ll just anger them!
Don’t let anyone bully you
Whether you’re living with parents or a sibling or your spouse, don’t let anyone bully you about your beliefs. Bullying can often be unintentional and hidden under the “It’s just banter!” excuse, but if you’re constantly being teased about being vegan and it’s upsetting you, then make sure not to just let it slide. Talk to your family and tell them that their jibes are affecting you.
If your kids won’t touch a vegetable unless it’s a potato, don’t despair! Involve your children by sitting down and writing out the weekly grocery list together, show them pictures of fruits and vegetables they’ve never seen before and tell them how yummy they are, and teach them how to cook from a young age.
Get them excited about trying a new vegetable every week. You never know, they might hate cabbage but LOVE carrots, or they might reject asparagus as disgusting but enjoy sweet potato. If all else fails and they simply won’t eat vegetables on their own, try sneaking them into gravy and sauces until they get used to them.
These methods can be particularly useful if you’re trying to transition your children from an omnivorous diet to a vegan one.
Have a vegan day
Try to convince your family to set aside one day of the week where everyone eats vegan food at every meal. It can be a great opportunity for non-vegans in the house to try vegan food and they may be surprised at how much they like it.
You could make the idea more attractive by offering vegan desserts or treats throughout the day. Not only does this show the variety of vegan food, it could convince pickier children to participate if a treat is promised.
You could have a picnic or visit the beach or do something else fun on the day as well so the kids have fun regardless.
Make similar meals
One way to get around the two dinner problem is to coordinate your meals. For instance, if one half of the family is having spaghetti bolognese, you could also have this meal. All you’d have to do is substitute mince with lentils. A pot of spaghetti can be shared, and you can even ensure that the sauce you all use is vegan-friendly.
Other meals you could make together: shepherd’s pie (again, lentils/ mince), fajitas (chicken could be added after for the non-vegans in the family), soup and curry.
Buy plant-based butter
Instead of buying two different kinds of butter (vegan and non-vegan), get your family members to try vegan butter. It’s often impossible to tell the difference between the two, and it is a cost-saver to buy just one, particularly because there are so many brands to choose from in supermarkets.
Ask for flexibility
If your housemate or spouse loves fish and you can’t stand the smell of it anymore, ask for a heads up so that you can make plans to do or be something else when they’re cooking. It’s always worth asking!
Do you have any tips on raising a vegan family? Contact us and we’ll look into adding more information!