Part of the reason why I started this blog was to record my family’s journey with moving to not only a vegan diet, but veganny stuff in general, as being vegan is not just about what you eat (or don’t eat!).
I went vegan in March 2012. I informed Husband that I could not in good conscience continue to cook the way I had. He understood and no longer buys meat and when I do the shopping I don’t buy any animal products. He is however using up the stuff from our upright freezer but once it’s finished he won’t be replacing it all.
The challenge for me was to find vegan meals that my family would love. Arthur (8yo) was the difficult case, as he is what experts call a ‘fussy eater’ and a lover of cheese. Cooking him non-vegan meals was hard enough as it was. Unfortunately, he instantly equated ‘vegan’ with “I can’t have any of my favourite foods and I’M REALLY UNHAPPY ABOUT THAT”. He has emotional attachments to things and when he is faced with the prospect of losing something, he takes it hard.
Arthur has two vegan friends and even though they’ve never actually discussed being vegan, they have positively influenced him. When I first tried the vegan sausage rolls recipe, I mentioned this was one his friend’s favourite meals. I do think it helped because Arthur never ate sausage rolls, vegan or otherwise. I was also stunned to see Arthur go and eat some of the roasted chickpeas I’d made, again ever so casually mentioning that his friend makes these.
Last week, Arthur said “okay Mum-o, from now on whenever you make something vegan I’ll try it”. This is amazing, considering how resistant and oppositional he had been. I mentioned that ‘I know some vegan and vegetarian people on the internet who have Taco Tuesday nights’. I’ve never made tacos for the kids as there’s no way they’d go near it– they’re not fans of foods being presented that way and anything messy gets put in the too hard basket. So I loaded up some pictures of vegan tacos. Come Tuesday, I’ll have taco stuff ready to go. Even if he fills his tacos with one thing, it’s a great start as he is willing to explore new ways of eating.
As a four year old, DeeW (now 5yo) asked me where meat comes from and why I don’t eat it anymore. I explained as delicately as I could and she said “you mean the meat is animals that used to run around happy on the farm???”. Okay so I obviously left out the whole factory farming angle but then she declared “I don’t want to hurt the animals or eat them, I want to be vegan too”. Arthur explained that being vegan would mean she doesn’t have yoghurt and that vegetarians eat yoghurt but not meat. So she said “okay I will be vegan sometimes and vegetarian sometimes”. She asked lots of questions after I read “Vegan Is Love” and was quite upset when she realised animals suffer. She hasn’t eaten meat since and is always asking “is this vegan/vegetarian?”. It’s at the point where she was given a candy cane and said “these aren’t vegan because they use crushed up bugs to make the red colour”. She was offered a piece of non-vegan pizza and said “no thanks, it’s not vegan” 🙂
So that’s where we are at currently. I take baby steps approaches with my children for most things they find difficult. Ideally I’d love to only go to vegan or vegetarian businesses but that’s not the reality for my family, nor is it for some others in my position as the only vegan in the family, especially a new vegan. I am hesitant for example to go to a non-vegan restaurant or cafe and blog about them here but the truth is my family get to see that I can go out and have a vegan meal and still have fun and not miss out on anything. Some vegans have partners or children who refuse to ‘eat vegan’ so their dining out choices must be an eatery that serves both meat and vegan meals. I figure that for my family, if it’s one step in to getting my family that much closer to being vegan, I’ll try it. Even if it means going to a non-vegan place (which is rare anyway). My children sometimes find change difficult to deal with, so I am treading very carefully. My approach is working because Arthur is willingly trying food, being curious and sitting down with me to brainstorm vegan foods he likes and foods we can veganise. DeeW is making her own connections and refusing meat and it’s not because she is copying me. Had I put my foot down cold tofuturkey I guarantee I would have highly oppositional children on my hands!
Baby steps. Slowly but surely wins the race. Good things come to those who wait. Etc etc etc.