Tell us about the members of your family – their names, ages, and an interesting tidbit of information about them!
We live in Cary, NC right outside Raleigh. Kate, 35, originally from NY, has been vegetarian for a number of years and went completely plant-based vegan one year ago. Tank, 36, originally from Maryland, has been completely vegan for 10 months. Henry, Mattie and Izzy are soon to be 7-year-old triplets. Henry and Izzy consume a vegetarian (mostly vegan) diet, with the exception of mac and cheese, cheese on pizza and the occasional ice cream. Mattie is on the autism spectrum and has difficulties eating due to sensory problems and food textures. He consumes his meals in mostly pureed form.
When did your family start its vegan journey?
Our vegan journey started about one year ago, the beginning of Summer 2017.
What has been the most rewarding part of being a vegan family?
The most rewarding part of being a vegan family is the level of awareness our children have, not only for their personal health but an awareness of where the food on their plate comes from. Our kids have a great compassion for all living creatures, not just cats and dogs.
What has been the most challenging part of being a vegan family, and how do you handle that challenge?
We have had challenges, but nothing too significant. There are some vegan products that can be expensive, which is another reason we try to stay more plant-based, eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains rather than processed foods.
What has been the most surprising or awkward encounter you or a member of your family has had because you are vegan?
We have received some comments about “malnourishment” when it comes to our children. However, we usually just laugh and brush negative comments aside. We know what we are doing is right for our family’s health and the environment.
What is your go-to family dinner when you are short on time?
Pasta with sauce, pitas, naan bread, veggies and hummus or guacamole, fruit and veggie smoothies, fruit and nut butter quesadillas.
What is the go-to lunch you pack for your child(ren) for school?
Our children bring their lunch to school everyday. We pack the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich, piece of fruit (banana, orange, apple), pretzels or seven grain crackers, applesauce and/or a sweet treat. Mattie brings a non-dairy vanilla yogurt mixed with pureed fruit everyday.
What are your family’s favorite snacks (whether intentionally or unintentionally vegan)?
Thank goodness for our Costco membership because our family eats a ton of fruit. Bananas, berries, apples and peanut butter, naan bread and hummus (we love to make our own hummus!), smoothies with hidden veggies (spinach or kale).
Do you have any tips for eating out as a vegan family at a non-vegan restaurant?
Always look up the restaurant before going out. Most restaurants have a full menu online. From there, we manage as to whether or not we should eat a little something before going. Many restaurants have vegetarian options and are more than willing to accommodate for vegans. Don’t be afraid to ask, especially when out with friends.
Does your family have any favorite vegan-friendly children’s books or cookbooks?
We love to research new recipes as a family! We love recipes from “The Happy Pear” cookbook. “The Happy Pear” was founded by two identical twin brothers from Ireland, Stephen and David Flynn. The Flynn brothers have a few veggie cafes throughout Ireland along with three cookbooks. Their YouTube channel has hundreds of easy vegan recipes to follow. We also love ultra-athlete Rich Roll’s vegan cookbooks, “The Plant Power Way” and “The Plant Power Way Italia.”
What is your family’s favorite vegan business (either local or online)?
We love Brixx Pizza! A delicious brick oven pizza restaurant that offers vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options! Brixx does not charge extra for vegan cheese options.
Have you been able to connect to other vegan families in your area? If so, how?
Through starting our own business, Plant Fueled Living, we have been able to meet other families in our area that have either made the transition or are thinking about making the transition to plant-based vegan. Many families are interested and have great questions. It’s always fun and super rewarding to help another family find their way.
Do you have any words of wisdom to offer other veggie families or those making the transition?
First, just try it together. For a day, a week, or a month. Try it together as a family. Second, don’t torture yourselves over being perfect. Lastly, you won’t be alone. The plant-based community is growing rapidly and gaining more mainstream acceptance.
If not everyone in your family is vegan, what is that like? Any advice for other veg-omni families?
We are open to any and all eating habits. When we have family members visit our house, we provide them with all of the foods we love to eat. When we hosted Thanksgiving a year ago we did not buy a turkey. However, we did not have a problem with our family members bringing a turkey to the holiday meal. Let the transition happen for everyone organically. If not, it can cause awkwardness and tension.
What’s the main message of veganism that you’d like your children to take with them into adulthood?
It’s hard to choose one, but we find these two to be the most important. We only get one body, so treat it with the utmost respect. Kindness and compassion to all living creatures is a great lesson for our kids that we hope will stay with them to adulthood.
Interested in being featured in our Real Vegan Families series? Tell us about your family here!