How do you become a vegan?
Veganism is more than a diet. It’s a way of life where people turn away as much as possible from all types of animal exploitation either for food, clothing or other purposes.
All vegans are one and the same however in adhering to a plant-based diet, which means no food from any animal-related sources like meat, fish, insects or shellfish, dairy, honey, and eggs.
It’s not easy to introduce a vegan diet at home, especially for kids, who are traditionally meat lovers, it doesn’t happen overnight and sometimes, going vegan is not for everybody. But for starters, here are some tips to help you transition your household to the vegan diet without pushing it too hard:
Involve Your Kids In Meal Planning
Most kids love creativity and fun, right? If you’re interested in helping your kids enjoy a vegan diet, make fixing vegan meals fun by making meals and dishes that they like together. You can also let them prepare their own vegetarian lunches and fun vegan snacks for after school. Parents who want to start out slow should incorporate more legumes, seeds, and nuts into their child’s diet each day.
Start As Early As Possible
Vegan experts suggest that it’s easier to add to a vegan diet than it is to take away food items. Again, add more vegan style meals and snacks to your child’s diet, rather than emphasizing what’s being taken away. In a meat-driven society, make it a priority to visit vegan restaurants with your child for an afterschool dinner or a weekend lunch. Furthermore, if pizza is a staple in your household, order vegetarian pies as often as you can as a treat while giving your child the option of choosing vegan toppings.
Get educated about nutrition for yourself and the kids
Going vegan by yourself is different from transitioning your whole family to it. You’ll have to learn many things first to ensure that your kids get the right nutrients even as they grow. There’s nothing wrong with reading books about veganism or even consulting professionals to help you plan the meals at first. You could also look at vegan cookbooks for easy-to-cook and kid-friendly vegan recipes to start.
Slow & Steady Wins The Race
Are you transitioning to a vegan diet? The best way to help your kids adjust is to move steadily towards your vegan goals. Remember, small changes will make a big difference over time. Give your child’s palette the opportunity to enjoy different foods other than meat. Plus, be your best critic on vegan cuisine for your kids. Find out what meals will be a regular in your home based on what you and your kids enjoy eating. It’s very important to have vegan snacks on hand when you’re on the go to avoid cheating and going back to a non-vegan diet.
Before fully pacing out on everything your kids were used to like sweets, meat, etc., show them that going vegan doesn’t necessarily mean depriving yourself. Keep the sweets for a few more months, while you cut back on the meat first. Introduce other alternatives to meat through kid-friendly recipes that they will love. Do it one at a time so your little ones will have a chance to slowly adjust.
Keep the menu simple, at first
As a starter, don’t make the vegan diet complicated. Keep it simple and prepare dishes that you already know how to make. Stir-frys, stews, curries, and soups are instant winners for the vegan taste. While you’re at it, introduce veggie patties for burgers, baked beans, potatoes, and add more vegetables to your recipe while making sure that the taste is just as delicious.
Don’t try to veganize comfort food
Comfort dishes of your family members, especially the kids, may take a while to replicate using vegan ingredients. The taste and texture of these recipes are often very familiar to their senses that any changes would seem too obvious and make it harder for the little ones to adjust. Hold off on trying to eliminate the comfort food completely, instead, try introducing a variety of cuisines in your meals that require less of the non-vegan ingredients. Indian dishes, for example, are more about vegetables than meat, most Vietnamese recipes are also vegan-friendly, so are some Chinese recipes like stir-frys. Don’t be frustrated, it often takes time and consistency before fully introducing veganism in the family.
As parent, you don’t want to force a vegetarian lifestyle on your kids. You want them to embrace the culture. To do this, it is recommended to take it slow, be patient and understand that the vegan lifestyle is not for everybody. For more insights on how to help your kids adapt to a vegan lifestyle, check kinderzeit.org.
Vegan experts suggest that it’s easier to add to a vegan diet than it is to take away food items. Again, add more vegan style meals and snacks to your child’s diet, rather than emphasizing what’s being taken away. and the earlier you train your child to be vegan, the faster they can adapt to it.
Some of the do’s and don’ts when introducing the vegan diet is to involve kids to meal planning, get educated about proper nutrition, do the transition in a slow and steady pace, and don’t try to veganize comfort food. Kinderzeit.org has more details.