Are you a parent? Are you interested in healthy plant-based eating? We've asked some experienced plant-based parents to share their knowledge, insight and practical tips with you!
Following on from my first "Plant-Based Parents" interview with Deb (which you can find here) is my interview with Sandy. Sandy and her 9-year-old daughter have followed a plant-based diet for many years, and have kindly offered to share a little about themselves, what they eat, and what it's like to be plant-based when not everyone understands your choices.
I'd also like to mention that Sandy also has her own blog, "Vegans Eat Yummy Food Too". There, you'll find loads of great recipes for kids, as well as some fantastic plant-based lunchbox ideas.
Hi Sandy! Thanks for sharing your story with our readers. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your journey to plant-based eating?
On my quest to be at peace with food and myself, I picked up two books in the space of a few weeks of each other. Unbeknownst to me, they both were promoting a plant-based diet and vegan lifestyle! This was at the same time that I was taking part in a Nutrition course that promotes the health benefits of being vegetarian. I was won over, switched cold–tofurkey and have never looked back! That was 7 years ago now.
It breaks my heart to think that so many people don't know what is truly 'healthy food'. Our system is drug orientated and is aimed at curing diseases instead of preventing them! And when study after study continues to prove that meat & dairy are actually harmful to humans, people push it aside -- scared of what it might mean to have to give them up.
I sincerely believe that people don't understand that eating a plant-based diet will improve your health and is completely nutritious!
How old is your daughter? Does she also eat a plant-based diet?
My daughter is 9 and she largely follows a plant-based diet. She does 100% of the time at home, but occasionally when she is being minded by someone else, she doesn’t. I don’t want to “force” her into it. I would rather her look back on her childhood and realise that this is a healthy way to live, and to choose this lifestyle for herself, rather than feel like we as her parents ‘made’ her do this. Then she might run completely in the opposite direction!
True, and you don't want that! So, what are some of your daughter's favourite meals and snacks?
Some of her favourite meals are veggie burgers, simple pasta & bean dishes, loaded baked potatoes and she loves a lentil lasagna! Another one of her favourite things are Chickpea Nuggets (click here to view the recipe on Sandy's blog.) Her favourite snacks include date balls, and she loves to help me bake at home. She already knows how to ‘convert’ recipes by replacing eggs with flax seeds and oil with apple sauce!
Wow, that's impressive! Now, when it comes to school lunches, do you pack them yourself? If so, what do they generally include?
Yes, I always pack her lunch and I really enjoy making it too. She eats a lot of food so it's always a big lunchbox! There are always at least 2 pieces of fruit, some form of home-baked goods like muffins, cake (carrot cake, zucchini cake), or other snack type food. She often takes a small serving of leftovers from the night before, and also a sandwich. Sometimes we include home-made dips to go with veggie sticks or pita bread. Other times it's baked potato chips, tofu omelettes, or chickpea nuggets. It really depends on what we have on hand….and how late we’ve slept in!
For you, what has been the most difficult part about plant-based eating and having a child?
Not having the support of family & friends around us. Most people think that we are depriving our child, or not teaching her to eat properly.
It's especially hard when we have family occasions and it’s voiced that we are ‘weird.' It’s not helpful for other people to feed those ideas to our child. We choose to raise her the way we know is best, and other people need to respect that, even if they don’t agree with it! Sadly though, our child is not the one getting sick- she doesn’t catch all the bugs that go around, and stays fit and well. So I really wish people could see the positive sides to it!
So other members of your (extended) family react to your dietary choices? Why do you think it causes tension?
I think people don’t understand it, and that’s why they find it hard to accept. I think it also adds level of difficulty in their understanding when you're following a ‘whole food’ plant based diet. It’s not as simple as just getting veggie sausages from the supermarket each time we eat!
I do enjoy discussing it with people if they bring it up though. It’s so wonderful to be able to tell people that it isn’t hard, and in fact, it's probably easier to cook this way! When you explain all the health benefits to people, the amount of heads that nod and understand, and want to agree in their hearts, is actually surprising! People know that something is not right with the way we eat these days, but many don’t actually do anything about it.
For some people, I guess their eating habits are so ingrained, it's difficult to face major changes. With that in mind, how important do you think it is to teach children healthy eating habits early in life?
I think it's of prime importance! It's easy for kids in this day and age to just go with the flow and eat all the garbage that is out there. As responsible parents, it's our job to care for our children, and I believe that includes the way that we feed them.
I do hope that one day she decides for herself to continue with a plant based diet for her own health, the health of our planet, and all the animals too!
That would be great! So, finally, would your daughter like to add any comments to the interview herself?
Yes! In her words: “I know that sometimes it’s hard when people bully you at school for being different, but I know that it’s better for my health so I have learnt to ignore them. When I’m older I hope to grow up to be a vegan, but sometimes I might have vegan treats more than Mummy lets me now!”
And we can understand that!
I'd like to say a big thank you to Sandy and her daughter for taking part in this interview series! If you're interested in learning more, be sure to check out other interviews in the Plant-Based Interviews section.
The information on this website is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat health problems or illnesses without first consulting your doctor.