Today we hear about living plant-strong from Kim who has 2 teenage boys!
E2:Tell us about your family. How many kids do you have? What are their ages?
My family is made up of myself (40 years old), and my two boys, ages 19 and 13.
E2: When did you make the decision that a plant-strong diet was right for your children/child?
Kim: I decided to switch to a plant-based diet in February of 2011. I made the change in my own diet first, but did not switch them immediately because they stated that they didn’t want to change. I continued to buy some meat and dairy for them so they didn’t feel like I was forcing them. I just continued to give them information about food choices, and how those choices affect our bodies, the environment, and animals. I believe it was 2 or 3 months later that they were completely on board.
E2: Did you have any fears about changing their diet?
Kim: I didn’t have any fears. I had done enough research at that point that I was convinced that a plant strong diet is the best thing for anyone and everyone.
E2: Did you face any criticism from family or friends?
Kim: I received quite a bit of criticism from coworkers and friends about my own change, and a little bit from a few family members. Many of them have accepted it after seeing what it’s done for me, but only a couple of them have made any changes in their own diets. I think it’s important to mention that I did have a few friends that were supportive from the beginning, even though they haven’t made changes (yet); My youngest son did have some issues with friends at school initially, and with his dad and stepmom. His stepmom is a Physicians Assistant, and she expressed several concerns about protein, nutrients, etc. I was easily able to show her that he is getting exactly what he needs for his age, and it actually became clear that she had incorrect information about nutrition, especially plant-based nutrition. So they seem to have accepted his choice. She asked if I could send her some of his favorite recipes so they can make sure they have the ingredients on hand and she can make meals for him the next time he comes to visit.
E2: What was the first thing you changed in their diet?
Kim: I cut out all processed, nutrient deficient foods. No more potato chips, boxed dinners, white bread, etc. I began buying organic fruits and vegetables instead.
E2: How did your children/child react to these changes?
Kim: They were somewhat resistant. They were ok without the potato chips, etc, but reluctant to give up chicken, milk and cheese. As I would give them information about food, I received a lot of eye-rolling and sighs. However, they were old enough to understand the information I was giving them. My strategy of giving them a little at a time seemed to work. It gave it time to sink in, and it allowed this to be their own choice rather than a forced change. Also, since they are teenage boys, I showed them pictures of plant strong athletes and showed them their websites. Robert Cheeke, Derek Tresize, Brendan Brazier, Mac Danzig, etc.
E2: What was the biggest challenge you faced making the change to a plant-strong diet for your children?
Kim: The biggest challenge seemed to be finding recipes and meals that we all agreed on. Once I found a few, though, they became really excited about trying new recipes.
E2: Do they have any favorite meals? Recipes?
Kim: They love E2′s Black Beans and Rice, Linguine and Creamy Alfredo Sauce, Vegetable Stir-Fry with Brown Rice, and Happy Herbivore’s Quick Burgers, Pinto Burgers, Fettuccine Alfredo, and of course, everybody’s desserts!
E2: How did you overcome the obstacle of lunches, hanging out with friends and other events?
Kim: It actually has been fairly easy. I plan ahead and make sure my son always has something to take for lunch. If he’s going to go hang out with friends, we make sure he has a big meal before he goes, then he takes several snack foods.
E2: How has a plant-strong diet impacted your children’s health?
Kim: They have said several times that they feel better now. I was going through and cleaning out our medicine cabinet and under the bathroom sink one day, and I realized that none of us have had to take the antacids that we had on hand. I threw them away. We also haven’t needed ibuprofen for headaches. My oldest son has “cheated” a few times when he’s hanging out with his friends or when he’s starving at work. He said he definitely feels awful after eating meat and dairy now, and he’s so glad when he can get back home and eat the food we have. My youngest son’s teacher pulled him aside one day after school because they had an assignment where they were supposed to keep track of everything they ate for a week, and the calories, fat, etc. She asked if he was vegan, because of what was listed on his. She said that almost all of the other kids were getting way too many calories and too much fat, but his was exactly right. Another teacher was standing there, and they both complimented him and said it’s nice to see someone his age be so aware, alert, and involved.
E2: What advice would you give to parents who would like to see their children become plant-strong?
Kim: Implement small changes. Make it fun. Be excited about it. Buy a few recipe books (I recommend E2′s book, and Happy Herbivore and Everyday Happy Herbivore). If you think they’re really going to be resistant, maybe don’t point out right away that you’re trying to change their diet. Just start substituting here and there. If they ask for macaroni and cheese, you could say, “Well, we don’t have that right now, but how about we make our own out of the things we do have?”. There are recipes in those books for mac and cheese, and other foods that kids love. Also, prepare them to handle the criticism and questions from others. It’s best to lead by example and be patient with others rather than become defensive. Read and do the research, and be ready with information. Rely on support from E2 and other people online. Find them on Facebook and “Like” them. You’ll find that many people have faced the same challenges, and they have some great ideas. Many of their own personal stories are very inspiring!
Thank you Kim!
Please leave some plant-strong thanks in the comment for Kim today!
We are out for the long weekend! We hope everyone has a safe and plant-strong Memorial Day. If you need some Memorial Day potluck ideas, check out our Pinterest Board all about summer recipes.