There’s one thing that all plant-based eaters know – getting your family to fully embrace a plant-based diet is no easy feat if they’re not already doing so. “Here, have a green smoothie, I promise it’s delish!” just doesn’t quite go over as well as we’d like. Right?
Though we all want to share the joys of plant-based eating with everyone we know, and all the health benefits that come along with the lifestyle, it’s still smart to be mindful about how we approach others who are unfamiliar with it. But have no fear; you can help your family learn to enjoy simple, plant-based foods without going full force veg head on them at first.
The key to helping your family eat more plant-based foods isn’t to prepare over-the-top healthy dishes for them with unfamiliar ingredients they might not be accustomed to (think hemp, spirulina, tons of kale, etc.) It’s also not a great idea to shame them into it by making them feel badly about their current diets. A better approach to help them eat more plant-based foods is to prepare more of their favorite dishes that are actually already vegan. For example, some of many people’s favorite foods are technically vegan and they just don’t realize it. Peanut butter and banana sandwiches, baked sweet potatoes, and veggie soup are all great examples. Once you start helping them eat more of these, then it’s time to work in some other dishes they’ll warm up to easily, such as these below.
Here are 5 winning ideas almost everyone will love:
1. Breakfast or Snack Idea: Fruit and Nut Butter Smoothie
While your family might not be on board with a green smoothie, a colorful blended fruit smoothie will definitely win them over. This is a great way to introduce a plant-based breakfast to your family that they can take with them to work on-the-go, or just enjoy at home. This will also keep them from reaching for the dairy, eggs, and bacon in the morning like they might be doing now.
Here’s a recipe you can make for your family that’s low-glycemic thanks to the fiber and healthy fats included. The color is so amazing, they’ll down it without any hesitation: 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 tbsp. natural almond butter or peanut butter, 10 frozen strawberries or blueberries (about a cup or a cup and a half), 1/2 a frozen banana and 2 tbsp. chia seeds (they’ll never taste ’em!). If you have some raw plant-based vanilla protein powder on hand or even some rolled oats, sneak 1/3 cup of that in there as well to add a creamier flavor and a thick texture.
Serve in a pretty glass or to-go cup for them so they’ll feel extra special. Here are some more smoothie recipes to try that your family might enjoy too.
2. Breakfast Idea : A Colorful Bowl of Oatmeal
Oatmeal seems so boring, unless you dress it up a bit. Make some oatmeal (either cooked or overnight style) and top it with some pretty berries, sliced bananas, maybe some raisins, nut butter, and pumpkin or sunflower seeds. These are all healthy ingredients your family will approach ease since they’re familiar with them. Remember, start with what you can; you can always work up to more ingredients later.
Try these recipes your family will love: Maple Spice Oatmeal Bowl, Banana Pecan Coffee Cake Oatmeal, Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats, or try these 3 Flavor-Filled Porridge Bowl Recipes. And if they’re still not into it, these vegan granola bars will definitely win them over and still help them get in their heart-healthy oats!
3. Lunch or Dinner: A Classic Soup or Chili
Most classic soup recipes can easily be veganized. One of the most popular being a tomato soup, which is typically made with milk, cheese and/or cream. Try our version instead, or try some of these ideas too: Creamy Vegan Not Clam Chowder, Potato Chive Soup, or Sweet Potato, Carrot and Leek Soup. Served with some whole grain bread (or even a gluten-free bread) that’s been toasted on the side, they’ll dive right in without much thought!
For heartier chili recipes, just replace the meat with mushrooms, add some sweet potatoes, and don’t forget the classic bean varieties most people already love in chili such as black beans, kidney beans, and white beans. Then add plenty of onions and garlic for flavor. Try Healthy Vegan Chili or Chipotle Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili that will win everyone over in a flash!
4. Lunch and Dinner: Classic Veggie Sides
Increase your family’s intake of veggie-based sides instead of focusing on the whole entree at first. This can help them fill up on veggies and have less room for all the animal protein. Because let’s be honest – as much as some of us may love quinoa, hemp seeds, tempeh and tofu, not everyone is going to warm up to those healthy protein options in the beginning. So start with the sides first and make at least 3-4 so they’ll have plenty to choose from. You can always add some plant-based proteins into the mix as you’re able to later on, especially if you fix one for yourself and let them see how tasty your dish looks.
Here are some great recipes to try: Crispy Spiced Cauliflower and Okra, Super Simple Sesame-Drenched Asparagus, Rainbow Lentil Fried Rice, Black Bean Onion Pilaf, Easy Roasted Root Veggies, Chile Garlic Potatoes and Cauliflower With Turmeric, or make an entire veggie-based dish like The Best 9 Vegetable Lasagna Ever!
5. Dessert or Snacks: Healthy Cookies, Pies, or Parfaits!
Aside from a bowl of fruit, (which makes for the healthiest and easiest snack and desserts), make something special that your family won’t even question before eating. Raw vegan energy balls, brownies, cookies, and even pies and parfaits can all easily be made vegan.
Give these classics a try: Raw Timbits a.k.a Donut Holes, Raw Banana Split Cheesecake Parfait, Raw Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches, or Raw Triple Layer German Chocolate Cake. Here are some more vegan desserts, savory snacks and sweet snacks you can make too.
While some of these may be more indulgent than others, the key is to help your family see that they can leave out the dairy, eggs, butter, milk and other animal ingredients in their meals and still enjoy delicious foods. Also check out these American classics that are already vegan and see these tricks to make your favorite fast food treats vegan (and healthy!).
For more ideas, be sure to explore all our recipes and try a new dish each week. Don’t lose hope, you can help your family eat healthier one small bite at a time. The baby steps count!
Do you have any tips you’ve used to help your family eat more plant-based foods?
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