This is a super real topic that I am so happy to be writing about and sharing with you. I went plant-based without my family joining in and it definitely brings with it a few difficult situations.
I think one of the most difficult situations to be in is to still be living at home when you start transitioning into a vegan or plant-based life style and having a family that doesn’t fully support your food and life choices. When I first started transitioning I was still living at home and it was tough! What I struggled with the most wasn’t the lack of support from my family, rather it was being surrounded by familiar foods I was no longer wanting to eat, which made the experience HELL. This struggle wasn’t a reflection of my dedication or drive to become fully plant-based, it was just extremely difficult to break the norms I was raised with when surrounded by them 24/7.
My family was extremely supportive of me and I think that was due to my constant new knowledge on the topic. My passion for eating plant-based had me speaking about the benefits of it all day long (I became seriously annoying), but it did comfort them to know I had done my research and this left them feeling confident that my diet was a healthy one and not depriving me of anything.
Every now and then I would still eat by-products of animal products, like rusks or a pasta with egg in it, because cutting out the immediate meat and dairy was already a big step and it wasn’t always possible to avoid these foods when there was nothing else to eat (or simply due to giving in to the familiar).
And then… I MOVED OUT.
This was truly a game changer for me, and it definitely helped that I moved into my first place with my boyfriend who was also transitioning into a fully plant-based diet – he actually got me started!
Once we had moved into our own environment we were able to start fully taking control of what we were surrounded with and building the perfect situation for eating a Whole Food Plant-Based diet. Even now when visiting at home it is difficult to open a fridge full of familiar foods from my childhood. I am the first to admit to that.
I share some really effective tips for how to transition more easily in my free eBook, Simply Plant-Based, which you can download from my blog and have a look at! (Search ‘Free eBook’ in the search bar and the post with the link will pop up!)
My tips for living at home with a non-vegan family
- Educate yourself – By knowing the benefits of a plant-based diet you will be able to answer any concerns your family may have. Be gentle in your delivery, do not bash their beliefs or ways of eating, but rather powerfully justify your own and ask for support.
- Do not try to change your family and what they eat – This is a path you will truly regret going on if it doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to. I have learned that the best way to open your family’s eyes to the benefits of a vegan diet is by being the example, not by telling them how wrong their diet is.
- Do not start arguments – It is good to have a rational argument ready for any question or sly remark made by family or friends (an amazing place to find these is on Earthling Ed’s channel on YouTube, he is extremely clued up) and by doing your own research into the health benefits and the benefits a vegan diet has on the planet.
- Suggest watching a documentary together – “What the Health” is an amazing one that is super interesting for anyone! It’s as good as watching a movie.
- Ask for a small space in the kitchen cupboard and fridge for your own food – this is an amazing way to take control of your eating. Label your foods to make yourself feel extra special.
- If your parent does the cooking, it is time to learn to prep some of your own meals – It is easy enough to eat similarly to your family, for instance, if your mom is making mince spaghetti. Ask her to portion the spaghetti so that you take your bit before the meat is added. To this you can make your own vegan pasta. Cooking grains and veggies of your choice and placing them in containers in the fridge to add to salads or to make Buddha bowls with during them week for lunch or dinner is an amazing way to stay in control of your diet. This will ensure you will never come home hungry and be tempted to eat the animal products readily found in your home.
- Show them HOW you can be vegan – You don’t only eat salad all the time. Offer to cook dinner once a week to introduce new foods to your family or ask to cook a meal together as a fun bonding experience. Pastas, stir frys, pizzas!
- Supply the cook in the household with exciting new vegan meal ideas – You cannot expect your parent to just know how to cook for you, so make it a fun project. They may even start to see how easy and affordable it is to eat a plant-based vegan diet.
- Mock meats are also a super cool way to show your family how easy it is to be vegan – The brands readily available in South Africa are Fry’s Family, Quorn, and the newly available Linda McCartney (exciting!!!)
It is important to remember that when we go vegan we are indirectly telling our parents that the way they have raised us was wrong and immoral, which is difficult for a parent to hear and can easily get their backs up. It’s difficult for them to digest and therefore it is easier for them to make what you are doing seem wrong. Remember why your parents may be against veganism. They do not understand it and have been taught completely differently about food for their whole lives.
The last point I would like to share with you is that starting small is okay! In my opinion, it is actually a much better way to approach veganism or becoming a plant-based eater. Even one plant-based meal a day is an amazing start! I mean, not everyone is going to be as intoxicated by a peach as I am in the photo above 😉 – give it time!
Again, I would highly recommend having a look at my tips and tricks for transitioning into a plant-based diet in my eBook!
I hope this post has been informative and has helped you with a few ideas on how to make your transition process more positive and fun! It is completely possible and incredibly rewarding.
* I use the terms plant-based and vegan interchangeably in this post, but I would like to clarify the difference. Often when referring to diet, both words are used interchangeably, although it is important to know that Veganism is much more than just the food you eat, it includes other ethical life choices such as the clothing one wears and industries one supports. Plant-based, on the other hand, refers to eating a healthy and balanced Whole Food Plant-Based diet for a healthy body and lifestyle. I identify strongly with both and therefore use both terms.
All my love,
Amber Gisele X