If you recently started a plant-based diet, chances are you may be tackling this diet change alone. After all, it’s common for many plant-based eaters to be surrounded by people who eat animal products.
In this week’s episode of the Greenletes podcast, I chat about my experience being a plant-based eater and living with someone who eats meat.
- Setting parameters for yourself- what does plant-based eating mean to you? Why are you doing it?
- Understanding that this is your own choice and you can’t force it on others
- Introducing new foods in your household and doing so gradually
- Compromising with meat eaters
- Seeking out a plant-based community
I also give real examples and practical tips from people who are in this exact situation!
Set your own parameters
First, I recommend setting some parameters about what plant-based eating means to you. For some people, that’s vegan and for others it’s vegetarian or a plant-forward diet with animal products. If you don’t have those parameters set up from the get-go, it’s going to be easier to drop those habits and just jump in with the people around you.
Also consider your “why” for plant-based eating. If you’re doing it because it’s trendy or because you think it will be good for weight loss, there’s a good chance you won’t stick to the diet in the long run.
But if you’re eating plant-based because you want to embrace a healthier lifestyle or hope to prevent diseases, those are reasons that you can carry through your lifetime to make this stick.
Don’t force it on others
Just like you don’t want someone to force their eating habits on you, it’s not helpful to force plant-based eating on someone who isn’t ready for it. It’s going to put a strain on your relationship.
Although you want support for your eating habits and lifestyle, it’s not necessarily going to be there from the jump. They may think of it as hassle or they may be worried that you can’t go to your favorite restaurants together anymore.
It’s important to understand that and not get frustrated with family and friends. Instead, there are tactics (that I chat about below) for everyone to eat the same-ish type of meal.
That said, it’s always worth trying to introduce new foods to the people in your life. Many people think eating plants doesn’t taste good or won’t fill them up. Try preparing them in a different way, and they may have a different perception of foods than they had in the past.
Seek out a plant-based community
There are plenty of plant-based eaters out there, myself included. Connect with me on social media @greenletes or find other plant-based eaters on your favorite social platform. On Facebook, you can find groups that are dedicated to plant-based eating.
You can also try a (virtual or in-person) meet up with other plant-based eaters. Before the pandemic, there were plenty of pot-luck style meet ups for vegetarians and vegans. You may also have co-workers or friends who have the same eating habits and would love to swap recipes and stories.
How to prepare a meal for all types of eaters
I asked people who are plant-based how they navigate this, and they shared some awesome tips. If you’re looking for more in-depth help, check out the 4-Week Plant-Based Athlete Roadmap. It’s a self study course that includes lessons on plant-based eatings, a free recipe e-book and weekly email check-ins with a Registered Dietitian.
Make flexible recipes & pick your protein
Start a meal with the vegetables of plant-based staples. For instance, if you’re making tacos, start with beans, rice, pico de gallo and guacamole. Then people who are not plant-based can add in chicken or fish to top off their meal.
This way, you’re not cooking two meals. Essentially, start every single meal by picking out some sort of plant and add other ingredients from there. A loaded sweet potato is a great option for adding whatever toppings suit your needs.
Build your own meal
Lay out different ingredients and let people build their own meal. For example, buy a pizza dough and cut it into four portions, then lay out sauce, cheese, and other toppings, like veggies and meat. Let everyone build their own pizza!
You can also do this with burrito bowls. Make beans, rice and toppings and let everyone build their own meal. This is also a great tip for picky eaters to try to get them to incorporate more foods into their diet.
Don’t tell them that it’s plant-based
Although I think you should highlight plant-based foods, that may not always work for those who aren’t on the plant-based train. Instead, you may not want to call attention to the fact that the meal contains no meat and maybe the won’t even notice!
For instance, maybe you make a tomato sauce with lentils and veggies and put it on top of spaghetti. Because the meal is so delicious, they might not even notice!
Listen to the Greenletes Podcast!
To get more tips about plant-based eating and learn from health and nutrition experts, subscribe to the Greenletes podcast on your favorite podcast player: