11 November 2010

Recent vegan convert looking for advice on living with omnivores

As a recent vegan convert, this new world is both exciting and challenging. One of my primary challenges is trying to live as a vegan with family members who are omnivores. As many of us have found out, food choices can cause some heated-discussions and disrupt some otherwise peaceful meals.

As the one mainly preparing meals, this can be quite a strain on time and resources. Most of us are searching out ways to add extra minutes to our already busy days. Who has time to spend all day in the kitchen?

Being new at all of this myself, doing the omni/veggie dance has required extra doses of creativity and a lot of patience. With a desire to honor and respect each individual in my family, I am always looking for new ideas. I would love to hear from any of you who find yourself in similar circumstances. Please share ways you have discovered to keep the meal times in your family as peaceful as possible.

Christina Daharry
Christina is a homeschooling mom of three and is married to her high-school sweetheart, Roger. She enjoys yoga and has fallen in love with running.

Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/blmurch


  1. Hi Christina,
    I have lived with omnivores at times (though most of them somehow end up becoming vegan, since they like my cooking!), and have not found it a problem. I usually make brown rice with stir fried vegetables for dinner, or some variation, of that, and salads or brown rice pasta (which is really good).
    Any of these meals can be cooked vegan, and meat can be sauteed separately and then added at the table.
    You can also make sure there are a few selections, like a quinoa dish, soup, roasted vegetables, and then a choice of sauteed/baked tofu or a meat choice.
    Also, you can prepare a great vegetarian meal, and offer the choice to your carnivore of preparing a meat addition while you are cooking. After time goes by, I usually find that the carnivores are so happy with the vegan meal, they are surprised to discover they really don't want meat at home anymore.
    good luck!

  2. Hi Steph,

    Thanks so much for the tips!

  3. I find cooking for housemates a great opportunity to show them how delicious and satisfying healthy vegan meals can be. I don't prepare any animal products, but I make sure the meals are balanced and filling enough for all.

    Nutrition science has shown that one need not eat protein with every meal, as proteins combine over a period of days. Still, I'll add a few cashews to a stir fry, or a bit of almond meal parmesan to a pasta to round them out.

    Easy cuisines to make vegan include Thai (winter squash curry, rice noodle dishes with lots of veggies, ginger potato corn chowder)

    Mexican (bean and rice tacos or burritos, taco salad -saves time to make a good homemade pepper sauce ahead of time that will last in the fridge)

    Italian (lasagna with either tofu ricotta or almond-white bean ricotta, stuffed shells with mushrooms, zuchinni and marinara, brown rice pasta primavera with carrots, cauliflower and fresh herbs, baguette with olive tapenade,etc)

    American (mashed potatoes with mushroom-cashew gravy, quinoa with salad and sauteed kale, homemade veggie burgers, homemade pizza, etc)

    The possibilities are limitless. If you set aside a few hours one day a week to make sauces and toppings (smoked paprika tahini, green chili vinegar, salad dressings, almond meal parmesan) it will save time during dinner prep.

    I like to let the food speak for veganism rather than arguing with words. When people are truly ready and interested to know I'll talk about the cruelty and poor quality inherent in factory farmed animal production.

    Good luck and bon appetite!

  4. Ioa, now I'm hungry! That sounds so yummy. Thanks for the ideas.

  5. going to family gatherings is the worst for me because it's meat-city on the table. they usually are rather uninspired when cooking a separate vegan dish for me (steamed veggies). I'm still in the process of trying to show them how tasty and creative vegan dishes can be.

    however, when i'm at home, i usually cook for everyone and they end up loving most of it. somehow people have this idea in their head that vegan = inferior/bland. i get, "wow, this is vegan?", a lot.

  6. Hi! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I'm amazed at the whole new world of flavors and foods that have opened up since becoming vegan. I have realized my previous habits were very bland comparatively. You are so right. Most people think being vegan means you have to give up taste. WRONG. Thanks again!

  7. Hi Christina, make vegetarian chicken nuggets and other fake foods for the youngest kids. Then make your usual vegetarian/vegan meals for you and your hubby and the older kids. Unless he works from home, he has the opportunity to eat meat (if he thinks he has to) for lunch and then to come home to your delicious vegan foods. Don't sell out and have unhealthy choices in the house and you're going to keep the family healthy a majority of the time. Don't miss an opportunity to talk with the children about how healthy and good for the planet your lifestyle is, and if you have pets, you can draw similarities with treating them right and treating other animals right by not eating them. Best of luck! (from Vicki)

  8. Thanks Vicki! Those are great thoughts!