Kid-Tested, Parent-Approved: Plant-Based Food for Everyone!
My daughter won't eat anything green!
My son thinks ketchup is a vegetable.
My partner sees "vegan" on the label and runs for the hills.
We hear you! Trying to get your family on board when it comes to mealtime can be like trying not to fart after snarfing an entire tray of brussels sprouts because no one else will eat any.
Vegan cheesy mac on the other hand... hang on. We're getting ahead of ourselves.
That's why we're delivering this post chock full 'o some of our favorite tips, recipes, hacks, and resources!
Recently, we talked to Kate Parente, mother of 11-year-old daughter, Maddie, to cover all things plant-based parenting. From making the switch five years ago to school lunches to handling awkward conversations, we learned so much from this wise and warm-hearted family!
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As Robin and Kate shared advice, Robin suddenly said, "What I'm realizing is that a lot of these hang-ups are our own." We continued chatting and she added, "Most conversations between kids are inherently innocent. And I buy the [Gardein-like meat alternatives] mostly for me, since I grew up on pizza and mac and cheese."
Unlike Robin's 7-year-old son, William, who might just be a natural-born raw vegan.
Robin also likes to say, "Model the message." If you want your kids to try new things, including eating more fruits and vegetables, they have to see you consistently doing the same.
So first and foremost, before we even get to specific food options and tactics, we all have to ask ourselves the most difficult question:
"Am *I* the barrier? Am I truly promoting plant-based choices or am I sending mixed messages? Do I have a track record of toeing the line or do I often give in?"
No matter the answer, no guilt-trips or shame spirals allowed! Making changes and consistently choosing fruit over fudge is HARD.
Luckily, you've just tackled the toughest part, so now let's dig into the fun stuff! We feel extra confident about these suggestions because they come from two moms with three very different kids. Different ages, different genders, and of course, different tastes!
11-year-old Maddie says: LET'S DO THIS.
Kate and Robin's Favorite Books & Online Resources
(Note: this list contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you make a qualifying purchase; we only recommend products and resources we love and use!)
Forks Over Knives website (great for education and recipes)
Connoisaurus Veg website (tons of recipes!)
Ruby Roth's "V is for Vegan"
Ruby Roth's "That's Why We Don't Eat Animals"
Thrive Market (fantastic for deals on pantry staples)
Yumbox lunch box (pictured below in William's school lunches - Robin loves them!)
Robin loves her Thrive Market subscription - here's one of her recent hauls!
Kate and Robin happily accepted the challenge to photograph a week's worth of lunches for their two school-aged kids. (Maddie isn't back to in-person schooling yet, so her photos were taken at home.) Behold!
Top Mom Tip: Don't feel pressure to make each day different; if your child wants to eat peanut butter and jelly every day for a week, go for it!
Top Mom Tip: Work with your family's preferences instead of trying to get them to like foods they're really resistant to.
Top Mom Tip #2: Don't let the Pinterest world fool you. Most of us are making a simple pasta dish -at best- several times a week!
Top Mom Tip #3: Similar to our school lunch advice: reimagine the typical meal plate. You don't have to have standard sections of protein, starch, fruit, and vegetables with every meal. Most whole food plant-based foods come packed with everything you need (yes, vegetables have protein!) and it naturally balances out over the course of any given week.
Some of Our Favorite Easy Family Meal Recipes
The 'Quick Videos' on our video page (scroll down just a little!)
Kate says, "I'm so happy it's getting nice out here! Just threw some plant-based sausage and veggies on the grill for dinner. I’m obsessed with my grilling pan; I used to kabob veggies, but this is so much faster!
"And," Kate adds, "Maddie's been on this [vegan] 'Hamburger' Helper kick. She loves it!"
(To hack this, simply stir cooked/heated beefless crumbles into your favorite prepared vegan mac - we love this Annie's vegan cheddar mac. Or use Robin's cheez sauce linked above to make your own!)
Top Mom Tip: Back to basics: In every food scenario (not just snacks), try adding plain fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It can take up to seven times to get used to a new food, and by reintroducing plant-based foods in their simplest form, we can reap the benefits of retrained tastebuds.
And never, EVER forget: guacamole is whole foods plant-based! ;)
For more snack ideas, check out:
Parties, Holidays & Special Occasions
Top Mom Tip: Plan ahead! If you're not hosting, offer to bring something, or explain to your kids ahead of time that you'll be leaving at cake/mealtime and having your own special meal.
Also check out:
our Accidentally Vegan Frozen Appetizers video
our Holiday food playlist
P.S. - Looking for more tailored, in-depth, one-on-one guidance? Check out our Coaching packages - which all come with our 26-page Coaching Toolkit!
And be sure to follow us across social media @plantbasedpoint, where we chat and answer questions daily!