When we began a whole food plant-based diet, my husband and myself, we never anticipated the hold it would take over, right from the beginning. The meals were delicious, the food was energizing and the impact on our physical bodies through weight loss and improved health was the best evidence that we were on the right track.
Our physical evidence supported the scientific evidence that had resonated so strongly when watching “Forks Over Knives”, the documentary which kick-started us into this lifestyle.
As a couple, we were united in expectations and experience and we were in it together from the get-go, in love with our food and our newfound ability to care for our own health through nutrition.
The big question we were left with was how to deal with our family’s diet? We had two boys in their early teens, both wonderful boys, yet typical in their resistance to parental ideals, complete with eye rolls and brief grunted responses during most conversation.
We were fresh to this apparent “upside down world” diet, removing animal products, eating mainly starches and eliminating oil. There was so much peer pressure through family and friends, so much concern that our diet was deficient that even though we knew this to be completely untrue if not insanity, the idea of branching our boys forcibly to our diet did not sit well.
Additionally in my heart, it was my desire to see them transition successfully and for the long term. Teenagers by nature act in direct opposition to their parent’s ways. It’s not being disrespectful but an important act of separation of finding their own way, by making their own decisions.
I felt that if we led by example and made it as little of a “push” as we could, that eventually they would choose what we were so evidently satisfied by.
Initially we kept our household on two separate diets, one for ourselves and one for our teenagers, who were not at all interested in making a change. I would not keep meat in the house but would not make any attempt to curb what they ate outside the home.
Plant milks were easily eliminated and replaced with plant milk. They accepted this switch fairly well. That left cheese as the sole animal product in our home. It was our youngest son’s only food group along with white bread or pasta. He had inherited from birth as I did, an intense dislike of vegetables. I’m living proof that an intense dislike of vegetables does not present a barrier long term to loving a whole food plant-based diet.
How did the boys react to the change? Well, they were not as smitten as we were and there was some loud complaining.
We found ways to create meals that they would at least eat, if not love. I would create pesto from spinach and nutritional yeast, vegan cheese sauce from potatoes, make your own tacos with Portobello meat, beans, fortified Orange juice for calcium etc.
After a few years, we were so smitten with our lifestyle, with the many benefits brought to our lives and the many other impacts upon suffering of animals, environment of the planet that I decided to go further, to learn more. I enrolled in the Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate program through T. Colin Campbell Institute.
There, we went more deeply into not only the scientific evidence supporting health but also the evidence toward the detriment to health from “dairy products”. This was very disturbing to me. As a cancer survivor in a long line of familial cancer, how do I allow myself to contribute to this form of toxins to my own children?
Once again we made a shift. The removal of cheese brought more comments toward us, more looks of languish and suffering while standing at the fridge. However, the removal of cheese also brought more evidence of health to the boys. They slimmed out and things like acne and rosacea greatly reduced if not disappeared over time.
Today, they accept the food in our home graciously. No complaints. Our youngest son is Vegan, by choice for the animals. I would call him plant-based except he eats more plant-meats and products than we do. However, I am grateful that he is happy with his food, animal product free. His diet and taste buds are still changing as he appreciates more selection of food all the time. He feels proud to have made this choice.
Our oldest has never complained about a meal he’s been served, in fact describes everything as delicious. He chooses to eat his own way outside the home still but at home he is completely fine if not extremely happy with our plant-based meals. He doesn’t view them as lacking but loves and enjoys. I have this sneaking suspicion that eventually he will make the change on his own always.
Do I wish I knew about this lifestyle sooner when they were babies? I certainly do. I’m still grateful though for this opportunity to change together, to make an impression on our boys. To teach them about about the power we all hold as individuals, to make decisions that although they may seem different, or be unaccepted by mainstream thinking, can actually be bring an abundance of joy to our lives.