Here’s a quick story about a friend of mine whose son refused to eat meat: She proudly told me that she blended the chicken with peaches and he didn’t even know. He thought he was eating peaches. Instead he was getting the “protein hit” his mum thought she needed to give him.
How many of us have experienced this or are already “that Vegan” in the house? How do we deal with the situation? How do we feed a child that refuses to eat animal products when the rest of the family are quite happy to eat anything?
What do I get asked the most? This very question: How do you feed your family when they don’t all subscribe to plant based living? Or, what do you do when your child announces that they are now Vegan?
From my personal situation at home as a mother myself, I want to share some ideas that might help another mom or dad or caregiver to who may be struggling to answer this question. To make it easier, I will refer to the “MDC”, an acronym for Mom/Dad/Caregiver throughout this blog post. The MDC is the main person who takes on the duties, such as cooking or cleaning, in the home.
I wanted to start off by saying that every MDC understands every MDC.
We are all sleep deprived, running on caffeine, usually identified by the dark circles under our eyes, forgetful, moody, confused and often experience moments of insanity.
We respond in short grunts and can often be found wandering aimlessly because we actually forgot what we were doing.
We are all trying to be a chef extraordinaire, a housekeeper, a teacher, nurse, butt wiper, monster slayer, anthropologist, hair stylist, best friend, yogi master, bodyguard, entrepreneur, events planner and fitness enthusiast – not to mention our efforts to be conscious MDCs! MDCs read every food label, search the internet for the healthiest morsel that takes less than one minute to prepare, recycle, subscribe to minimalism, meditate, and subscribe to self-improvement.
And then, we get hit with the added complexity of having to cater for various “meal requirements” – gluten free, fat free, paleo, vegan, banting, dairy free, sugar free… The list goes on! Who knew that the 20th century would be so complex?
Here are my 10 top tips for MDCs!
1) Do not prepare a unique meal for each person. Prepare a couple of dishes on a Sunday that can be kept in the fridge or freezer. Every Sunday I make a vegan Bolognese using Fry’s Mince, a Mexican Taco Mince using Fry’s Mince, chopped walnuts, mushrooms and taco spice mix, Indian Red Lentil Dahl, a large Quinoa Salad and maybe even sweet potato mash (total cooking time – 1hr20min). These form the basis of my meals. Anything else may only take seconds to prepare. The kids love this food and so do we. And it takes the stress out of every dinner.
2) Using plant meats makes life so much easier. You make exactly what you normally make, but you switch out the animal protein for the plant protein. If the family is having a roast, pop a Fry’s Schnitzel in the toaster a few minutes before you eat and the vegan at the table is no longer relegated to the veggies only. You can still make pies, lasagne, curries, stir fries (or stir Frys ;)), spag bol, and cottage pie. If you have family members that are not prepared to try the plant meats, then prepare the meal and 2 different proteins (plant and animal) that can be added at the end of the meal prep or when you serve.
3) If you happen to be the vegan and really don’t want to cook meat for the family, then set up a BBQ outside the house. Make this available for anyone that wants to cook meat. You may just find the BBQ gathering dust.
4) Be grateful for every meal you eat with your family and say it out loud. Gratitude trumps fussiness!
5) Talk about the food you have made: The health benefits (educating yourself and your children will greatly benefit you all), the way you prepared it, and where it comes from (ie homegrown, from a farm nearby). Talking about where animal products come from too, may help the rest of the family understand your point of view (keep emotions out of these discussions – be frank, honest and logical).
6) Realise that everyone is on their own journey – you cannot enforce your own feelings on others. Listen to their point of view, be kind, and give your own thoughts in a non-confrontational way. Plant seeds. Do not judge. Parenting can be tough – let your children make their own choices outside of the home. If your child has decided to go plant based – support them as much as you can.
7) Be prepared for events: school “sausage sizzles”, fundraisers, get togethers, kids parties all include animal products. Pack some options for your kids. I always take a packet of Fry’s Sausages or Sausage Rolls so that my kids get to participate in these events without feeling left out.
8) Find your tribe! There are other people going through the same dilemmas as you – Connect with them.
9) Invest in a few cookbooks (or download free e cookbooks from the Fry’s website www.frysfamily.com) – these will inspire you and are an endless source of great ideas! There are also some great blogs written by MDCs in the same situation as you.
10) Connect with animals – go to a farm sanctuary together and spend time with the rescued animals.