Raising a Plant-Based Family

Posted on by Neal Barnard, MD, FACC

raising a plant-based family

Guest blog by Jasmol Sardana, DO.

Eating a plant-based diet with your family is rewarding, healthy, and easy! Here are a few tips that will have your whole family excited for the next meal.

Find What Works for Your Family

Your family may have chosen to go plant-based for several reasons – for health and wellness, the environment, animal welfare, or a combination of these. Whatever your drive to become plant-based was, know that you’re making a wonderful decision for your family. Every family’s plant-based journey will look a little different, so stay focused on yours and try not to worry about comparing!

It’s also helpful and important to talk to your kids about why you chose to go plant-based – chances are they will be proud of the reason!

Explore New Foods

After becoming plant-based, I tried Ethiopian food, and my kids tried Korean and Japanese cuisine, for the first time. There are so many delicious ways to prepare vegan meals, and I have eaten more variety now that I’m plant-based than I did before.

We also choose not to be limited by the “kid’s menu,” and have explored and tasted many more types of vegetables and fruits than ever before. Now as a family, we look forward to trying new recipes and exploring different cuisines together.

Let the Kids Help

We choose recipes, go shopping, put away groceries, and prep and cook meals together as a family. They love talking to the farmers at farmers markets and enjoy helping us shop both online and in person. For preparing foods, kitchen gadgets are a lifesaver. Our blender, the Instant Pot, and our air fryer are all great investments for our family, because they save time and our kids love to make new things in them.

Unsurprisingly, our kids can be picky eaters, but allowing them to choose the foods they want gives them control and commits them to eating what they’ve chosen. Having them involved in the process from start to finish engages them while preparing them for the future.

Keep Fruits and Vegetables Accessible

We keep cut up vegetables and fruits available for the kids to grab after meals or as snacks. I make it a point to make the platters fun and pleasing to the eye, because our eyes eat first! Sometimes, we use healthy fats – like roasted nuts, hummus, plant-based yogurt, nut butter, and even dark chocolate – and pair them with fruits for a decadent treat.

Kids Might Be Kids

Sometimes, your child might have something that is not plant-based at a family or friend’s home or even a birthday party. If that happens, we revisit the reasons why we went plant-based, and why it’s important to us as a family. We make how we eat at home the example they can always return to and find that this empowers them when they are on their own.

Jasmol Sardana, DO, is a board-certified primary care physician specializing in both internal medicine and lifestyle medicine. She supports patient empowerment, patient education, and shared decision-making to develop a personalized approach to managing acute and chronic medical conditions. Dr. Sardana specializes in the use of lifestyle modifications, including good nutrition (a low-fat, plant-based diet), regular physical activity, adequate sleep, avoidance of substance use, and stress management to treat and prevent chronic diseases. She practices at the Barnard Medical Center in Washington, DC. Photo from here, with thanks.