One of the most common questions I get from clients is about eating vegan living with non-vegans. We’re all busy, and it can be hard to pull together a meal some nights, and add on top of that the thought of making two meals (one for those who are vegan, vegetarian, plant-based and one for those who aren’t)? No thank you. Of course, the easiest solution is to make one plant-based meal that everyone is willing to eat, but sometimes that’s just not going to happen.
Whether you’re a roommate, spouse, parent or child in a household, these tips will help to navigate living in a situation where your food choices are different than others. Of course, the goal may be to help inspire those you live with to follow a more plant-based diet as well, but we can’t force others to find value in the things that we do. Because of this, I’m offering my top tips for sharing meals as someone who is vegetarian, vegan or plant-based in a household that isn’t.
1. Rely on adjustable meals
Some meals can more easily be adjusted to fit the specific dietary needs of the people in the household more than others. Tacos are an easy example. They can be a ‘buffet style’ meal, displaying all the toppings and customizing the filling based on the dietary needs in your household. I often make tacos out of spiced black beans with smoked paprika, cumin, and curry powder, and the meat-eating members of your household could simply have a different filling.
This same mindset can also be used with soups and stews. A completely plant-based soup can be made (for 12 EASY vegan weeknight soup recipes, check out my ebook!), and if meat-eating members of your household choose to add meat or cheese, that’s their choice! Simply portion out the meal for those who are vegan, vegetarian and plant-based and those who aren’t, and adjust the meals accordingly.
2. Keep vegan alternatives on hand
One of my biggest tips for eating vegan living with non-vegans is to keep vegan alternatives on hand. While I don’t suggest relying on alternatives like plant-based cheeses, meats and other dairy products (besides fortified plant-based milks!) all the time, they can definitely have a place in our everyday eating pattern, and can certainly make life easier.
Especially when I’m somewhere I know I won’t be the primary cook (ex: my parent’s house, a friend’s house, or in-law’s house), I try to keep alternatives like vegan cheese, meat, butter and milk on hand to make the cooking process more seamless. Sometimes I can convince everyone to try the vegan alternative, but other times I’ll just take out my portion and add whatever vegan ingredients that are necessary. This works particularly well with casseroles, pasta, pizzas and sauces.
3. Don’t be a short-order cook
While it can be tempting to try to please everyone in the household by making whatever they want to eat, especially when eating vegan living with non-vegans, I don’t advise this (particularly with children). This just adds more stress and cooking time to your plate, which may lead to resentment. It’s also important for children to be exposed to new flavors, foods, and textures, regardless of whether you’re hoping they’ll go fully plant-based or not. While it may be challenging at the beginning for children (or any other members of your household) to fully accept the plant-based meal at first, the reality is that if you’re the cook, you should be choosing what’s eaten (for the most part). Allow others the freedom to customize their meal as we discussed above, but avoid doing the adjustments for them and becoming a short-order cook.
4. Veganize favorites
If you are eating vegan living with non-vegans and are interested in inspiring others in your household to follow a more plant-based diet, start by veganizing their favorites. Who wouldn’t love a delicious vegan mac and cheese, vegan tuna salad, oatmeal pancakes, creamy vegan rosé pasta, or vegan shepherd’s pie?! Start there, and you’ll likely be surprised how willing they are to eat these veganized favorites!
If you or your family is struggling with veganism, vegetarianism, or plant-based eating, schedule a free 15-minute call with me to see how I can help you reach your goals.
Want easy vegan recipes? Check out my Everyday Vegan Soups Ebook! 12 Vegan Sauces that Nourish from the Inside Out.
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