How to be a combined plant-based and meat-eating family?
As many of you know I am vegan and have been for 5 years now. I live with my husband Mick who still eats meat (omni) and my 3 children who are predominantly plant-based. But despite our different diet choices I am the one who cooks our meals and I refuse to cook 3 different meals every night so I found a way to make it work for our family over the years and I want to share my tips with you on how to combine plant-based and meat options at meal times.
For me being around the table as a happy family is very important. I value those special moments together and believe they will create special memories for my children. I don’t want them to remember mum eating her own food in a corner or dad never eating the same as the rest of us or us being tense at dinner time. Meals can be enjoyable and delicious for everyone in the family!
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5 tips to combine plant-based and meat options:
1. Respect each other choices and focus on adding in more plants.
I don’t know how much meat and other animal products your family currently eat but changing a family’s diet can take time. I recommend respecting each other’s choices. I want my husband to respect my choice to eat vegan and I respect his choice to not make the same choice.
Regardless of anyone’s diets however try adding more plants in your meals will be great for your health. Adding in more wholegrains, more fruits, more vegetables and more legumes in your family go-to meals is a great first step.
2. Have a few vegetarian or plant-based meals each week.
For families wanting to add more plant-based meal options adding a few meat-free meals per week like a meat-free Monday is a great way to start and will benefit everyone’s health. If doing fully vegan meals at first is too much start slowly by doing pescatarian or vegetarian meals at first. Find an amount of vego meals per week that suits your family.
Maybe one might be all your children and husband are comfortable with to begin with. Try increasing to at least 2-3 per week. My husband after 5 years of me being vegan is at 5-6 nights per week eating plant-based! Considering that he used to eat animal products at every meal, it is such a positive change that he now does so just a few times a week.
3. Create meals that can be both vegan or omni.
The other nights of the weeks I recommend creating meals that can be both plant-based and contain meat or other animal products. So many dinners can be shared by the whole family and have vegan or meat options. We do this one or twice a week in our family and it works great.
Some examples of combination meals include:
- Homemade burgers
- BBQ with sausages and vegan sausages
- Tacos with some black beans or cauliflower for the plant-based option
- Burritos, quesadillas and burrito bowls
- Homemade Sushis and rice paper rolls
- Homemade pizzas
- Sandwiches (for lunches)
4. Make the main dish the vegan option.
Another tip to combine plant-based options for non-vegan family members is to make the vegan meal the main meal with a side of meat or added cheese. Pasta dishes can also be made vegan with options for cheese to make them vegetarian.
Also many meals can be made plant-based and enjoyed by the whole family. Soups, salads, curries are often already plant-based and can be added to your family’s menu. Eating vegan doesn’t mean eating kale and falafels every day!
5. Transition slowly to more plant-based at home but non-vegan outside of the home.
Lastly, another way that works for some families to combine vegan and non-vegan family members is that they eat plant-based at home and not vegan when out. We do that too as a family and that works well for my husband. He is happy to eat mostly vegan at home and if eating out he can choose whatever he wishes. We eat in restaurants that offer both vegan and non-vegan options.
For more meal ideas to combine both plant-based meals and omni meals contact me for a consultation. If you are new to plant-based and want to transition I can also help you with my 1:1 nutrition coaching services available worldwide.
I know each family will have different dynamics but I hope this post will be useful for some of you. Eating plant-based will help improve everybody’s health but even increasing by 10-50% more plants is beneficial. I believe in respecting each other’s choices and in baby steps but also in not adding more work and stress for all the mums out there already doing so much for their families. No-one should have to cook 3 or 4 different meals each night!