The Joyful Vegan‘s Colleen Patrick- Goudreau dishes on how to make a mixed household work when cooking meat-free!
New vegans are often surprised by how their own changes cause ripples in otherwise calm waters. Some non-vegan family members may be critical, resistant, or even hostile to your new way of eating. Understanding the reasons for their reaction will do wonders for your peace of mind and the ease of your journey.
For instance, many women lament that their boyfriends or husbands are resistant to making any dietary or culinary changes. This can be particularly stressful when their loved one is dealing with health issues that may be improved or solved by incorporating more plant foods into their diet.
The woman pleads, the husband resists. Nobody wins, and everyone is miserable.
Here’s a secret. Some people may not want information about eating differently precisely becauseit comes from you. I think family members can be the hardest to reach because of all the other underlying dynamics that are already built in. Sometimes it’s much easier to receive information from strangers.
Certainly there’s nothing wrong with directing loved ones to resources (such as The 30- Day Vegan Challenge!), but it’s important to do so and then remain unattached to the outcome. Note the difference between, “You really need to read this” and “I just read a really compelling book I think you would really appreciate. I’ll leave it here in case you want to take a look.” Then leave it there and let them read it. Don’t ask them if they have. Don’t ask them why they haven’t. Don’t criticize them or take it personally if they never do.
Also, when you’re concerned about someone’s health, communicate openly from your heart. Telling your husband (or wife) that you’re genuinely concerned, that you love him and are scared to lose him, will go much farther than prodding him about how unhealthful his diet is. Be sure to tell him that you cannot condone what you perceive as harmful behavior but that you won’t hassle him about it anymore. And then be true to your word.
I also hear from a lot of newly vegan women—who are still the primary cooks in most families—who feel obligated to continue cooking for their husbands all of the animal products he insists on eating. Add fussy kids or teens to the mix, and she winds up making three two or three different meals every night for dinner.
When did home kitchens become restaurants?
I absolutely do not advocate people making more than one meal for their meat-, dairy-, and egg-eating family members. If you’re the cook in the family, and the expectation has always been that the rest of the family eats what you create, then that applies in this situation, too. If your family members feel they need to eat meat at every meal, then they can cook it themselves. If they eat outside the home for lunch, then they can get whatever they want at that time. But at dinner, if you’re in charge of the meals, then you decide what’s on the menu. I’m not suggesting you do this in a dictatorial way, because of course deciding what’s on the menu also means making vegan variations of their favorite meals. Some of their favorite meals may already be vegan by default. The point is to not become a short-order cook in your own kitchen.
After all, the surest way to inspire people to eat delicious plant-based food is to make delicious plant-based food. “If it tastes good, they will eat it” is my motto. If people eat food they find satisfying, filling, familiar, and tasty, they won’t care if it has no animals in it.
Navigating these tricky waters requires a little patience, a dash of psychology, and a lot of really good food, no matter how old you are or what your living situation is.
Rich, creamy, and comforting, this dish can be modified to include favorite ingredients baked into it- such as sundried tomatoes, chopped greens, sliced mushrooms, squash, olives, or whatever you desire.
Enjoy this marriage of Mexican (corn, beans), Mediterranean (cumin), and Peruvian (quinoa) cultures — as well as Gardein Crispy Tenders.
Excerpted from the 30- Day Vegan Challenge: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Healthfully and Living Compassionately by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau