Hi there! Welcome back to the blog. Whether you’re living with your parents, family, friends or partner and veganism appeals to you – this post is just what you need! I have outlined 10 tips to assist you in your transition to a plant-based diet, while living in a non-vegan household.
I like to think that I am very experienced in this topic – just under a year ago, I went vegan while living with my non-vegan family. I have made a lot of mistakes, and through my experience of those mistakes, I have learned a lot of ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ in terms of newly fledged veganism. I hope to use my experience as a way to help you! (I know that I wish I had someone to guide me along).
I made the jump to veganism quite rapidly – doing so ‘cold turkey’ as some may say. I woke up on the 12th of September 2017 as a vegan, and I have not consumed animal products since before that date! I think that this must have confused my family a lot. I never provided them with a definite reason for the sudden change in my lifestyle – yet I still expected them to accept it openly!
My family were typical carnivorous eaters (as was I), and they never saw anything wrong with eating meat or animal products. Without my thorough explanation regarding my decision to cut out all animal products from my diet, and their lack of knowledge about the lifestyle as a result – they seemed to be quite worried about the safety of my nutrition and my well-being. I was learning as I journeyed through the experience, but I wasn’t passing on that information to my family. They were very much left in the dark about the whole situation (and of course – a parent is going to worry).
In the beginning, they rarely tasted my vegan meals – which was my own fault really! I cooked solely for myself and excluded my family from the vegan equation (I resented the fact that they questioned the idea of the lifestyle). After a couple of months of smelling my food in the kitchen and tasting bits of my meals here and there – they attempted veganism! Their first attempt didn’t last long; less than two weeks in fact.
Their inability to keep up with the lifestyle annoyed me, but with encouragement from my boyfriend – I was eager to get them back on track. They were still perceiving vegan food as being boring and tasteless. They were trying to experiment with over-complicated dishes, instead of just veganising the dishes that they were already familiar with! I began to further explain the concept of veganism to them, and its importance. I was also getting them to taste various dishes of mine to prove how delicious vegan food could be.
When my boyfriend went vegan about 4 months ago – he kept telling my family how amazing the food was, and how much he was enjoying it. I think that this really spurred them on. One evening I was re-watching ‘Forks Over Knives’ on Netflix in the living room, and my dad was listening from the kitchen. He kept asking questions regarding the listed facts about the dangers of animal consumption; “Is that true?” and “It’s not like that in Ireland though, is it?”. I just kept making sure that he was listening!
He and my mom went on to watch that documentary in whole, as well as various other movies on Netflix which emphasise the importance of a plant-based diet. They decided to give veganism a go again. I didn’t push them into it whatsoever (I think if I tried to do that, they probably wouldn’t be vegan now!), but they witnessed the first-hand benefits of the lifestyle, and this inspired them to begin living a healthier life.
Their second attempt is still in effect and they have been completely vegan now for over 2 months. They love it! I don’t think that they will ever eat meat again. This success did not come easily though. My family and I have had countless battles over kitchen usage, the lack of food available to me, and the wrong’s and right’s of the lifestyle!
Here are some tips to aid you in your journey to veganism while living among a house of meat-eaters:
- Before jumping into the lifestyle completely; learn your facts. Educate yourself on the benefits of a plant based lifestyle, because people will question your decision! Watch ‘Forks over Knives’‘Forks over Knives’ and ‘What the Health’ on Netflix. Read research driven case studies on the beneficial reactions of the lifestyle upon human health (Dr. Michael Greger of nutritionfacts.orgnutritionfacts.org is my personal favourite). Listen to vegan podcasts! I love ‘Vegan Danielle’, ‘Live Planted’ and ‘Ordinary Vegan’ – but there are so many others out there.
- Explain your decision to your family/friends/partner/housemates. Talk them through why you have chosen this route, and tell them about the benefits of it- which you think will reflect upon your own life. Share your researched facts with them! The more informed they are, the more open they will be to accepting your decision.
- Do not over complicate your dishes! Simple meals are the way to go in the beginning. Trying to perfect difficult dishes will result in you needing to spend more time in the kitchen – this could result in disputes between you and your fellow housemate(s). Stick to 20-30 minute quick, easy and tasty meals to pass on the agro.
- Source your own pot and pan. You really only need one of each, and believe me – doing so will save you so much time and effort! Having your own also means that you won’t have to risk cross-contamination.
- Ensure that you always have readily available food in your home. This does not mean that you have to have an abundance of fresh fruit at all times. Frozen alternatives are so convenient, as well as – dried rice, pasta and tinned beans! You never know what situation will arise when you will need a quick and easy meal – so it is so worth while to always be prepared.
- If your fellow housemate is cooking dinner, and offers you some; you don’t always have to say no! More often than not they are going to have 1-2 vegan elements to their meal. Accept the vegan sections and simply add your own meat or dairy substitute. Add beans or tofu and you’ve got the perfect easy meal.
- Offer to cook an entirely vegan meal for your household members. This will help them to realise that no flavour is lost in vegan food. This may require time – but it is truly worth it.
- Prep your food! Make large batches of food at the beginning of the week which can be easily added to your meals during the week to bulk them up – such as; baked potatoes, pasta or beans. Doing so will mean that you won’t have to go cooking every day, and if your housemates are getting a takeaway – you can just throw together some of your pre-cooked goodies – as to not feel left out!
- Invest in a good quality food processor. The quality of your food is sure to improve with the purchase of good quality kitchen equipment. A growing scope of food opportunities leads to even more appealing vegan foods for your housemates to bear witness to! The use of food processors also ensures much less time spent in the kitchen.
- Last, but not least; Enjoy the experience! Try not to get stressed out about preparing and cooking food. Your housemates will notice this frustration and they could use it as ammunition against the lifestyle. Prove to them how amazing it makes you feel.