How To Cope With An Anti-Vegan Spouse

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So often I am asked by readers, “I want to raise our kids Vegan but my husband won’t allow it”. Obviously this issue could also concern men who want to go Vegan as a family. But so far, I have only been contacted by women with this problem.

First I want to make clear that I do not judge a parent for being weary of feeding their children a plant based diet. We are a meat & dairy obsessed society. Most of us grew up on milk, cheese, hamburgers & chicken tenders. Our mothers & grandmothers made delicious home cooked meals like meatloaf and mac & cheese that will always be close to our hearts. Our fathers cooked ribs & hot dogs on the grill every summer. Food means more to most people than just nourishment. Food represents our childhoods, our family, our heritage, our most cherished memories. How can you blame people people for not wanting to give all of this up?

The good thing is, veganism does not require that we erase our childhood memories of special meals. Even I smile when I think of my mom’s tuna casserole. And I’m not ashamed to say it. What your spouse needs to understand is, plant based foods are not only extremely healthy, but they can be delicious & satisfying as well.

Spaghetti dinners & pizza night are here to stay, and veggie burgers are amazing cooked on the grill. Childhood is still fun & memorable without animal products in our children’s diets. The food we feed them may be different than the food our parent’s fed us, but their childhood memories will be just as special. I imagine my children will think back fondly on my tempeh piccata with mashed potatoes and my fettucini with kale walnut pesto.

Dad may also worry that having a Vegan child will ensure that his son will be the scrawny kid, chosen last for dodgeball. Of course this is ridiculous, but many people still associate protein with meat. The great thing is, that plant based diets offer us loads of protein. Truthfully, many people are getting too much protein from their Standard American Diet (SAD diet) and this can lead to major health consequences.

I recommend compiling as much current information about the benefits of vegan diets and sharing this information with your spouse. Encourage him to read books by Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Watch Forks Over Knives or Vegucated together. Attend a veg conference, lecture or workshop. Explain about the cruelty of animal farming. If you are lucky maybe there is a vegan friendly nutritionist or dietitian in your area. The Vegan RD has loads of great information on her website.

Even if your spouse does not approve of a completely vegan diet for your children, I’m assuming that he does allow them to eat vegetables. So feed them as many plant based foods as possible!! Enjoy “Meatless Mondays” and try excluding meat, dairy and eggs from your child’s bagged lunch. Your children will benefit from this.

There is no magic answer to the question “how do I deal with my anti Vegan spouse”? Every relationship is different. If the kids are old enough, ask them what they want to do. Of course, you should never put them in the middle of the argument. At the very least, your Vegan lifestyle will be a great influence on your children, and they may follow in your footsteps when they are old enough to make their own decisions. 😉

“All Aboard! A Vegan Family On A Carnival Cruise”

For spring break this year our family decided to take a cruise. Normally we sail away on the Disney Cruise, but we booked our vacation last minute & Disney did not have availability. The 5 night cruise aboard the “Carnival Inspiration” was one of the few ships that we were able to find an available cabin, so we booked it!

Minutes later I was surfing the web, trying to find any information about Vegan dining on this ship, or any Carnival ship. But information was hard to find. I came across a few comments here & there, but nothing too helpful. I did read that is important to let your server know of any dietary restrictions during the first evening on board.

My husband and I explained our Vegan diet to the server as soon as she greeted us. She explained that we would be working with a “special diet hostess’ during the week, and we should find plenty to eat. This was music to our ears. Our dinner that first night was a simple gluten free penne with marinara sauce, and I must say, it was excellent. I don’t usually enjoy gluten free pasta, but this was a good one. During our meal the “special diet hostess” came by and pre-ordered our dinner for the next evening. This is what we would do each night. For dessert our only option was a fruit platter, but we were assured that we would have better desserts throughout the week. Cookies & cakes were mentioned….

The next evening we were told that our dinner “pre-order” had been accidentally deleted and all they were able to make for us were grilled vegetables & rice or the same pasta as the night before. My husband and I chose the vegetables & the kids ordered the pasta. We all enjoyed our food. Unfortunately, the fruit platter was still the only “dessert” we were offered again. The kids were not happy. We were told that homemade cookies would be made for us tomorrow…..

For breakfast each morning we stuck to toast with jam, cereal and fruit. Soymilk was always available. Lunch each afternoon was a treat! There is a noodle station where rice noodles & vegetables are made to order. The chef uses chicken stock to stir fry, so he had us bring him a cup of water to cook with each time. The kids LOVED this, and so did my husband and I! Best Vegan food on the ship, no joke! Aside from the noodle station, there is a large salad bar & a grilled panini station. It would have been nice if they offered a vegan entree’ along the buffet line, but we still found plenty to eat.

Our third dinner on the ship was a delicious vegetable fried rice! How were the cookies you ask? Non existent. We had fruit again. This time it was cooked berries in a sugared sauce. Good, but still fruit. Thank goodness I brought my own cookies for the kids. Poor things were on vacation and they couldn’t get one decent dessert! I was seriously going to offer my Vegan baking expertise to the kitchen staff and teach them how to whip something up, but my husband thought that was tacky.

The 4th evening we did not make it on the ship in time for dinner in the dining room (too busy discovering ancient Mayan ruins), so we grabbed some veggie sushi & a grilled veggie panini at the buffet. Quite good actually.

Our last dinner on the ship were vegan stuffed peppers, and we all enjoyed them. Bananas were our dessert. Surprise, surprise.

Overall we had a great time. I feel that Carnival has the right idea, offering a “special diet hostess” to work with guests, but I do think they are dropping the ball when it comes to dessert. Vegan cakes & cookies are not difficult to make, and if Carnival Cruise Line put a little more effort into catering to vegan guests, they would get 2 thumbs up by “The Vegan Mom” instead of one.

Vegan Kids & Bullying, Is It A problem?

Any child who is perceived as “different”, whether it be their appearance, the way they talk, the way they express themselves, what they eat, what they don’t eat.. may be at a higher risk for being bullied. We have been hearing about Gay youth in the media quite a bit lately, and the term “bullying” is being used a lot. I started thinking about Vegan kids, and wondering how common bullying is with them.

I have gathered some feedback from other parents of Vegan children, and what they had to say was a bit surprising!

Most parents feel that their children are perceived as “different”, but most school aged kids don’t seem to have much of a “problem” with their Vegan classmates. They might make comments here & there, or question them a lot, but “put downs” & “intimidating behavior” are not much of an issue.

I was happy to hear that a majority of Vegan children, for the most part, are treated fine by their peers. I know by my own experience, that my son feels completely comfortable with his Veganism at school. Truthfully, he has not had one major issue with another student.

So what is it that I find surprising?? Many Vegan children are being singled out & having their lifestyle criticized. But not by other children…. by adults!

Many parents claim that friends, family members & even teachers, have some major issues with their children consuming a plant based diet. And these grownups are not afraid to let kids know exactly how they feel!

So is it okay, that aunts, uncles, neighbors, coaches & teachers, may single out your Vegan child and tell him that Veganism is dangerous, stupid, crazy or unhealthy? What if they simply make fun of your child a little bit, or embarrass him? Or secretly offer him sausage, and promise not to tell his mom, like a woman did to my son?!?!

The answer is of course, NO. It’s not okay, for these people to interfere, put down, or embarrass our children, because they choose a healthy & compassionate lifestyle. But in this meat loving world, where we are told that kids NEED dairy to survive & be strong, it is bound to happen.

Needless to say, your children will also meet & be surrounded by many adults who will respect & support their decision to be Vegan. My son has such a wonderful group of people in his life, who give him constant praise, and brag about his Veganism. So when he is confronted by a grownup, who simply “doesn’t get it”, he stays strong & stands his ground (and yes, he turned down the sausage offer). 🙂

5 “Spooktacular” Trick or Treating Ideas For Vegan Families

The spooky, creepy, sugar induced evening is almost upon us, and children everywhere are planning for the family favorite holiday…. HALLOWEEN! The costumes have been purchased (or sewn by “supermoms”), the flashlights have been loaded with batteries, and the trick or treating routes have been planned. Families all over the country are ready…. but what about Vegan families?

I have gathered up 5 great ideas to share, and hopefully at least 1 of them will work for your little witches & vampires!

Idea # 5- Only except Vegan treats or non-food items. This was my original idea, seemed easy enough. I looked into Vegan candy options which included many hard candies, Twizzlers, Swedish Fish, Blow Pops & more. The downside is this can be time consuming at each home & stressful for the kids. So make sure you think this one out, before you make your kids promise to accept only Vegan treats.

Idea #4– Stay home & give out Vegan treats with the kids. This sounds boring, but if you live in a good trick or treating neighborhood, this can be a blast! The kids can dress up & do something fun & spooky for the neighborhood children.

Idea #3- Throw a family friendly Halloween Party instead of going out. This is a safe and FUN way to spend Halloween! Allow your guests to bring food & give them a list of Vegan treats or recipes. Bob for apples, have a costume contest, dance…. actually this sounds better than going door to door all evening!

Idea #2– Let your kids Trick or Treat their hearts out, and then trade their non-Vegan treats for Vegan treats (that you buy ahead of time). Donate the un-Vegan treats to co-workers or friends.

Idea #1- Let your kids Trick or Treat as usual & then BUY all of their non-Vegan candy from them (maybe some Vegan stuff too, since no sugar is good sugar), then let your children spend the money on a new toy! Donate the candy. How much you want to pay per candy is up to you! A mom posted this fabulous idea on “The Vegan Mom” Facebook Page a few years ago & it has worked well for my family on Halloween. My kids are excited to Trick or Treat with their pals, and can’t wait to hit Toys R Us the day after. I am just happy to not have a house full of “refined sugary garbage!!” 🙂

I wish you & your family a safe, fun & healthy Halloween!

NEW for Halloween 2014~ SO Delicious ‘Pumpkin Spice’ and ‘Candy Corn’  Coconut Ice-Cream Bars. These treats are sure to please all of your little ghosts & goblins! www.sodelicious.com

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Please Welcome Guest Blogger, My Mom “Why I Became Vegan”

“Why I became a Vegan”

According to The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vegan Living (Penguin, 2005) a vegan is “one who avoids causing harm or exploiting other living beings as much as humanly possible. This involves excluding all animal foods and animal-based items from their lives.”


I’m one simple person who has recently made a conscious decision to live my life with greater compassion toward all living creatures. This premise of compassion is the heart of what it means to be a vegan. When you become aware of the animal suffering going on in the world, and you become determined you will no longer contribute to it, you have already taken the first step in bringing your compassion to the next level. The following is my personal story on how I’ve arrived to this point….

My oldest daughter, Lisa, became a vegan (along with her beautiful family) a couple of years ago. She’d read the The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health (Benbella Books, 2004) and become convinced that becoming a vegan would be a much healthier, more compassionate lifestyle.

My first thought was, “I have to give up CHEESE? Oh my.” I’ll be honest with you: I didn’t become vegan overnight. I more or less inched myself along, learning along the way. First, my husband and I cut out all meat. Surprisingly, it was not a difficult transition. I could be a vegetarian, I’d thought! I invested in a couple of vegetarian cookbooks. I also discovered an informative and inspiring cooking show on PBS called, “Christina Cooks.” Christina Pirello had been diagnosed with cancer at a young age and went into total remission after she chose to follow an organic, vegan lifestyle. My path of discovery continued….

This past summer my daughter, my grandchildren, and I journeyed to upstate New York to spend the night and visit a farm sanctuary there. When I entered the car in Connecticut, I was a vegetarian. When I returned from New York, I had committed to becoming vegan.

For the past 50 years animal agriculture in the U.S. has been taken over by large corporations that dominate the marketplace for meat, dairy and eggs. Industrial farming conditions are so harsh that animals commonly succumb to injury, illness and disease and millions die before reaching the slaughterhouse every year. On today’s industrialized farms animals are denied even the most basic humane consideration. Every year in the U.S. nearly 10 billion animals are raised, marketed and slaughtered under the most unconscionably cruel conditions. I had to ask myself, “How can I continue to support this?”

Visiting a farm sanctuary proved to be a very moving experience for me. My family and I discovered first-hand that farm animals are gentle, smart and friendly, just like dogs and cats! Like us, they want to be free of pain, live in a clean place and be treated with kindness. (For more information, please visit farmsanctuary.org)

According to a report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, raising animals for meat generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, trucks, planes and other form of transportation combined. Going vegan is not only a compassionate choice for animals it’s a greener choice for our beautiful Earth!

As chef Christina Pirello would say… “Cows are vegetarian. They eat grass. Skip the middleman and go for grains, beans and veggies that are loaded with protein!”

I choose to be vegan because I truly believe each of us has the capacity to make the world a better place. I choose not to be overwhelmed by what I can’t do. I choose to be EMPOWERED by what I can do. I am now making an effort to make more conscious and compassionate choices.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1869-1948)

I invite you to join me.

Top 15 Vegan Family Road Trip “Cooler Essentials”

Well, we are officially into summer, and that means family road trip time for many of us! Summer Road Trips are a memorable part of childhood, and even with all of the dirty restroom stops, fighting in the backseat and hearing “are we there yet” 567 times…. I would not miss our annual automobile voyage for the world!

Most families stop at fast food restaurants a few times a day, while on long car trips. But unless your kids LOVE a McDonald’s ice-burg garden salad, there is not much for Vegan kids to eat. I recommend packing a large cooler, filled with tasty & healthy food that your family will enjoy.

Keep in mind that kids get hungry when they are bored….. or at least they think they are hungry! So pack a lot, you don’t want to run out of food when kids are involved & you are in an enclosed space! 😉

Here are my TOP 15 Cooler Essentials~

1. Some type of non-dairy milk. Rice, Soy, Almond, Hemp, whatever you like. It will come in handy for cereal, coffee, tea… etc.

2. A few “healthy” Vegan cereals. Kids & grown-ups enjoy a nice bowl of cereal at any time of day.

3. At least 1 loaf of Wheat/Whole Grain bread. You can eat it plain or create a sandwich.

4. Nut Butter (unless allergies)

5. Fruit spread

6. Mock deli meat (my kids love Tofurky)

7. Lots of fruit!! Apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, strawberries, etc…. make sure it’s washed & ready to eat!

8. Veggie Sticks. Take the extra time and prepare lots of variety. Slice carrots, celery, sweet peppers, broccoli & cauliflower! They can dunk them in the nut butter, or bring some vegan dip.

9. Healthy crackers!

10. Soy yogurt (or applesauce, if they are not yogurt fans)

11. Whole Grain Taco Shells. Seriously! Kids love them, and they can fill them with beans, veggies, or eat them plain.

12. Container filled with black beans or garbanzo beans. Sooo healthy!!

13. Nuts! Peanuts, almonds, cashews….. (unless allergies)

14. Drinks!! No soda for this family, so I recommend lots of water!! Juice boxes are good too!

15. Last but not least, something SWEET! Vegan cookies, a little candy, popcorn…. you get the idea. Your kids deserve a little reward for sitting in the car for so long!

Don’t forget to stock up on paper goods, forks, knives, spoons, paper towels, etc….. eco friendly ones, of course!