Tell us about the members of your family – their names, ages, and an interesting tidbit of information about them!
We are a family of 5! My oldest son, Jameson, is 6 and he loves to read. He could read books all day! My second son, Josiah, is 4 and he is such a mover. He loves to dance, play sports, and do anything that has him running and/or jumping! My youngest son, Jove, is almost 2 years old and we are really starting to see his personality blossom! So far he seems to be a mix between his older brothers. My husband, Tim, is 34 and he is an avid runner. He used to run to and from work for 3 years until he recently changed jobs. He is also very into sports – hockey, basketball, baseball, and football are his favorites! My name is Ashley and I am 30. I have been the director of my dance group for the past 7 years and I’ve been dancing for 27 years! I am also a La Leche League Leader and babywearing enthusiast.
When did your family start its vegan journey?
My husband and I made the choice to change our diets after watching the documentary Forks over Knives. I was 5 months pregnant with our oldest son when we saw the movie and made the change.
What has been the most rewarding part of being a vegan family?
The most rewarding part of having a vegan family is the variety of food my kiddos not only eat, but enjoy! Tuesdays are now Kale Taco Tuesdays by request of my 6 year old. My 4 year old loves pistachios, and my almost 2 year old loves avocado and potato leek soup.
What has been the most challenging part of being a vegan family, and how do you handle that challenge?
The most challenging part was attending social events when we knew non-vegan food would be served – like weddings, birthday parties, and other holiday events. We overcame this challenge by just assuming to bring food for us to eat or share. Or we would eat before/after the event and bring snacks along. Especially with kids, we always just brought food along if we knew it was close to meal time and always had snacks packed. It’s all about being prepared!
What has been the most surprising or awkward encounter you or a member of your family has had because you are vegan?
When we first made the switch in our diet when I was 5 months pregnant with our oldest, one of my husband’s aunts had a very strong opinion on it. She pointed her finger at me and said, “If anything happens to this baby because of this, it will be all your fault and I will never forgive you.” That was very awkward. I just calmly walked away.
What is your go-to family dinner when you are short on time?
Tomato soup! A jar of tomatoes, 4 cups of water, 2 cups of chickpeas, salt, pepper, basil, cashews, and coconut oil. Blend together and you have an easy meal.
What is the go-to lunch you pack for your child(ren) for school?
My oldest son started kindergarten this year, so we just started packing lunches for school. We use a PlanetBox and it is amazing! We love the ease of the design, durability, and zero waste. We pack a fruit (berries, grapes, melon), carrot sticks, veggie straws or sweet potato chips, and for the “main” area – hummus and ketchup quesadillas, nut butter and jelly quesadillas, and bean burgers. We love the little square in the middle for a sweet treat of a few gummy bears or chocolate chips.
What are your family’s favorite snacks (whether intentionally or unintentionally vegan)?
Lara bars! They are our go-to snack when on the go!
Do you have any tips for eating out as a vegan family at a non-vegan restaurant?
Look at the menu online ahead of time or call the restaurant if you can’t view the menu online.
Does your family have any favorite vegan-friendly children’s books or cookbooks?
All of Ruby Roth’s books are awesome! We also love Steven the Vegan by Dan Bodenstein and Rob Ronrahn, Lena of Vegitopia by Sybil Severin and Carlos Patino, and Herb the Vegetarian Dragon by Jules Bass and Debbie Harter (they do mention butter, but we leave it out; and we change vegetarian to vegan).
What is your family’s favorite vegan business (either local or online)?
Viva Vegeria – our local vegan and gluten free restaurant.
Have you been able to connect to other vegan families in your area? If so, how?
Yes – by simply talking to each other at the vegan restaurants in town and then becoming Facebook friends. We share lots of great tips on Facebook!
Do you have any words of wisdom to offer other veggie families or those making the transition?
Start small or just jump right in! There is no right or wrong way to change you and your family’s diet! Lead by example and let your children help with the food choices (like picking out a new fruit or veggie at the store) and even let them help with meal prep if they are old enough.
If not everyone in your family is vegan, what is that like? Any advice for other veg-omni families?
We are an all vegan family. 🙂
What’s the main message of veganism that you’d like your children to take with them into adulthood?
Everyone can make their own food choices. We choose to eat this way because we feel it is best for our bodies and our environment. We don’t feel it is a restrictive diet, but a way of eating that allows you to explore the wonderful food naturally made for us to eat without needing to be heavily processed.