Go Plant-Strong!
The Daily Beet: Tips, Advice and Stories

“I HATE VEGETABLES!”

We hear it all the time, people telling us that they do not like some kind of plant-strong food. We get it, some of you don’t like certain foods. You don’t like kale or collard greens, you hate carrots, you don’t like tofu, you hate the site of lima beans, cilantro makes you run for the hills, you can’t even stand the site of a mango, you HATE oatmeal!

Not everyone LOVES every food. And more so, if you have children, you probably have encountered at least one tantrum over anything green on the plate. (because we all know that anything green will surely jump up and BITE them!).

But fear not. We are here to help, and we’re even here to help your kids out.

First, we’ll start by saying MOST people who start out NOT enjoying a certain food when they go plant-strong end up liking it by the end of their 28 days. You would be surprised, how often this happens. We even see this at our immersion programs, the first day some people report that they are not a huge fan of the food, and by the second day they are RAVING about the food. Sometimes it just takes a clear palate to encourage those taste buds to start working in your favor.

Second, it is good to know there are NO super foods. NONE. You will not suffer because you hate kale but love spinach. All plant-strong foods are healthy for you, so you can relax, even if for right now you really only love potatoes and green beans, you are going to be okay.

Let’s talk about kids for a moment. A lot of parents tell us that their children will NOT eat any greens! Well that is completely normal. For many children, greens have a very bitter taste, and often that doesn’t go away until they mature a little more. Children tend to like mild tasting vegetables like, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, green beans, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and, as for a green, we’ve found that spinach tends to be on the more mild side. It is also a good idea to introduce foods so they are eating them in a way that introduces them to the taste. While sneaking them in might sound like a good idea, it might not do anything to help them to change their palet. (This is also true for Adults).

Stick to the foods that they do enjoy and then if you want to try new things, do so little bits at a time. They don’t need a huge variety in their diet in order for them to get what they need. Like adults, they need to be eating enough calories (plant-strong calories). So, try and add slowly, but don’t worry that they are not getting enough of something simply because they hate kale right now. ALL vegetables, whole grains, beans, some nuts and fruit are all great sources of nutrients, vitamins, protein, carbohydrates and fats.

Now let’s get down to how you get past your dislike of certain foods. First, it is important to remember that there are a lot of foods!

Here are some of the vegetables/beans/and grains that we enjoy:

Chives
Garlic
Leek
Onion Shallots
Scallions
Avocado
Peppers (green, red, yellow)
Cayenne Pepper
Chili Pepper
Cucumber

Eggplant
Okra
Olives
Pumpkin
Sweet Corn
Tomatillo
Tomato
(Acorn Squash)
Zucchini
Artichoke
Bok Choy
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Squash Blossoms
Arugula
Beet Greens
Brussels Sprout
Cabbage
Celery
Spinach Chard
Chinese Cabbage
Collard Greens
Endive
Kale
Lettuce
Purslane
Radicchio
Water Cress
Poricini Mushrooms
Oyster Mushroom
Portobello Mushrooms
Shiitake Mushrooms
Truffle Mushrooms
Azuki Bean
Black-eyed Pea
Chickpea
Fava Bean
Green Bean (French beans)
Lentil
Lima Bean
Mung Bean
Peas
Soybean (edamame)
Jicama
Lotus Roots
Parsley
Parsnip
Potato (all varieties)
Prairie Turnip
Radish Rutabaga
Sweet Potato
Yacon
Yam
Asparagus
Beets
Celery
Fennel
Fiddlehead Leek
Asparagus
Rhubarb
Swiss Chard
Quinoa
Brown Rice
Barley
Millet
Bulgar
Oats
Rye
Wheat Berries
Wild Rice
Whole Grain pasta

We’d list the fruits, but there is just not enough room :) You can check out this wikipedia article though.

So sit down, and go through and make a big list of all of the foods you DO enjoy. Don’t worry if you only like a few, you can start with a small variety.

The good news is, that you can make great tasting dishes with just a few ingredients. First of all, stir fry is always a great, fast meal option. Just throw some of the vegetables you do like into a pan with a little water or low sodium vegetable broth and cook them all the way through. Next, throw in some kind of bean or lentil, or some cubed tofu if you like, and then throw in some cooked brown rice. Don’t like brown rice? Try it with quinoa. Don’t like quinoa? Try it with barley. Don’t like greens? Add sweet potato, peas and onions. As you can see, the possibilities start to become endless.

Now, before you say it, or maybe you have already thought it – what about carbs?! What about all of those starches?!

Good news! Whole grains and healthy starches are good for you! They also have protein and the good stuff you need. We need carbohydrates, they are important for things like brain function! So if you like starchy vegetables or whole grains, stop worrying and enjoy them. Over time, maybe you will start to like a wider variety of vegetables, but right now, relax and enjoy the plant-strong food you DO enjoy.

The bottom line is that we all have to start somewhere, but the key is to START. Find the foods you do like and get rid of all of the bad junk that will only impede your progress AND stop you from really enjoying the new foods. The longer you eat the junk, the more you will crave it and the less appealing plant-strong food will be.

Check our Pinterest board for some great recipe inspiration!

Let us help you out – tell us which foods you DO like and we’ll help you come up with dishes. BRING IT!

About the author

NatalaE2
Natala is the director of communications for Engine 2 Diet, she is also one of our coaches on our support site, Engine 2 Extra. A few years ago, Natala was at the end of her rope. She was on almost 15 medications daily, had out of control Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, issues with nerve damage, and was morbidly obese. She was just over 30 years old. She decided to take her life back by becoming plant-strong. She has lost over 200 pounds, got off of all of her medications and now has great health numbers. Natala plays the violin and studied music therapy. She became passionate about plant-strong nutrition, received her Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University, a certificate in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and is currently pursuing a degree in nutritional sciences. Natala is also a featured speaker at our Engine 2 Retreats she talks about the reality of our nations obesity epidemic as well as providing practical steps to becoming a healthier person.

19 Responses to ““I HATE VEGETABLES!””

  1. Kate says:

    When I was a little girl, my mother hated vegetables. Transferring her silly notions to her children, we also hated most vegetables. Upon learning I was to become a mother, I decided to end the madness. My children needed vegetables to be healthy. But I still hated vegetables. I somehow knew that if I disregarded traditional wisdom of serving wallpaper paste (rice cereal) mixed with sugary soy formula and sugary strained fruit to my children, I might have a chance. Each of my several children began their foray into solid foods with pureed greens. Then we moved into yellow vegetables, whole grains, and beans. As the adult, my example was crucial for veggie consumption to continue as natural in our home. But I still hated vegetables. But they never knew. I dutifully prepared steamed broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and so forth. We gave them silly names like Maid Marion’s baby cabbages, Robin Hood’s arrows, Little John’s trees, etc. I ate them smilingly without chewing them and washing them down with copious amounts of water. Eventually, I learned to like and actually enjoy ALL vegetables except the florets of broccoli (I love the stems). My children love and eat most vegetables as do I.

  2. Jess says:

    I learned a long time ago to be patient with my children when I met a dear friend who lived in a more remote part of Asia – her children ate very healthy, but not a wide variety of food, because not much is available there. My children enjoyed the more starchy vegetables for a little while, and I would slowly introduce them to different greens and vegetables, a little at a time. I went on the premis of the Rainbow diet (?) in which they helped Baltimore school children learn to like vegetables by letting them really explore the vegetable, smell, feel, slowly taste it. Worked like a charm. I’ve never snuck veggies into a dish, because it seemed counter-productive, they wouldn’t learn to like the green, just the thing I put it in, and it is never enough to make a difference anyway. Now my 9 year old son will have a giant salad with dinner and sometimes bring one to school with his wraps.
    It’s just about not forcing it, and letting it naturally happen.

  3. Diane says:

    100% agree with Jess, my children have been vegan since birth but we never forced vegetables on them, we let them slowly come to like them. You are right, many children do not have the taste buds to handle bitter foods, so eating kale might not be something they enjoy. At least, most children. Many parents label their child ‘picky’ when all it is natural bias for their age. We also did a lot of starchy vegetables, and mild vegetables, our kids did like spinach and cauliflower and we made games out of trying new things. We would have contests to see who could guess the green. Sometimes they hated the food (asparagus) but other times we learned things they did enjoy (brussel sprouts!). By the time they were in school they were eating tons of vegetables and fruit. Dr. McDougall helped us understand that they did not huge amounts of greens in order to be healthy, it was more important what we were NOT feeding them. They rarely had a cold, and were always a healthy weight/height and generally very well behaved. We always had cut up fruit and carrot sticks anytime they asked for a snack, that is what we started with.

  4. Jim says:

    It’s like you guys are reading my brain. I have been putting off doing the 28 days because I hate vegetables, not all vegetables, but most. I keep saying I won’t get enough greens so I might as well not try, I read a book called Eat To Live which basically says eat 2 pounds of greens and there is no way in hell I’m doing that so I thought if I can’t eat raw foods I would be missing out on tons of key nutrients. This post clears a lot up, I didn’t know I could eat potatoes and whole grains. I am going to start my challenge now and just stick to the stuff I like and cut out all the rest. This is a MUCH more sensible approach to things, with all of the snake oil salesmen out there trying to get you to eat super foods and making a buck, I get confused, good to know I won’t suffer because I eat a potato. You guys are amazing, keep up the great work!!!!!

    • Many people think that they hate vegetables but many times it is because they only like them raw (that counts, too) or they have eaten poorly cooked vegetables. I am often shocked at how many people eat well cooked vegetables and then say, “I like that.”

      So, don’t lump all vegetables together and think that you hate them. Try a new one each week and see which ones appeal to you.

      My purpose in life is to get people to eat more vegetables – not by shoving them down throats but by enticing people with them. I hope that you will give Peas a Chance.

  5. Diane says:

    Not much to add, I really like this post, it is just sensible, so many others try to go overboard.

  6. Lori says:

    I can’t even begin to thank you for all you do between this, facebook, pinterest I feel like I learn so much everyday, it is clear Engine 2 is not out to just get rich or take advantage of people, you guys are giving away so much information, I appreciate that you are honest with out being jerks as well. This post helps a lot, I also get caught up in the super food craze. I need to remember to keep things simple. God Bless.

  7. tonya parham says:

    Being a southern girl, I grew up with overcooked greens, green beans that were mush, everything fried, meaty, or veggies that were tasteless. I actually remember as a kid, the only way I would eat veggies was if they would just let me eat bell pepper, cucumber, lettuce, cabbage, etc. raw. We never had salad– completely foreign in our house, as was rice.

    And I hated beans. Despised beans. Thought they tasted like dirt. But, I’ve always been someone to consistently try things and then re-try them to see if perhaps I’ve changed my mind. I started tasting beans in my late teens and would try them every month or so to see if I liked them.

    By my mid-twenties, I would eat them but it was one of those things where I would look at them and think, “gross” but take a bite and think, “Oh, that’s good!” And this went on at every meal for years.

    And going plant strong has been a process. It’s taken me a couple years. But now, I love beans. I have beans at least twice a day. And it’s nice (for me) to walk away from that meal knowing that I was good to myself, nothing was harmed to feed me, and that eating that way shows an evolution in my being.

    If you don’t like a veggie, try it again. And again. And again. I’m currently learning to love broccoli and cauliflower. The broccoli, I’ve grown to like. I’m not sure I’ll ever like cauliflower BUT I used to say the same thing about beans, too!

  8. D says:

    I have learned that it is important to give your kids LOTS of reinforcement for just *trying* new foods, even if they just lick them or take a tiny bite. I just keep offering them, and eventually they will start to eat them. Our kids won’t eat a ton of veggies. I have one who LOVES most fruit, so I am glad for that. One of my other children has autism and the sensory issues of any fruits or veggies that are juicy (or squirty, and he calls them) are very difficult for him.

    I try to get them to eat at least some type of produce at lunch and dinnertime. Usually that ends up being apples or carrots, but it’s something. Eventually, they get tired of carrots and ask for a couple brussel sprouts (yay! success!). My husband and I went vegan a few months back, but the transition is harder for my kids, so I am working on transitioning them more slowly. I also make sure and remind them that you really have to try something about 10 different times before you know if you really like it. So, they are starting to try things more than once.

    Thanks for the great post!

  9. Reygan says:

    I never even tried squash. I thought zucchini was gross looking. Last month when we switched to a plant based diet, I bought some just to try it. SO GOOD! I put it on pizza, in pasta dishes, or just roast them with other veggies. I still can’t get my husband to enjoy cauliflower. I have loved it since I was a kid. I also ate snap peas and was delighted that they didn’t taste nasty. I would tell anyone to just try it even if you never ever in your life would have. Now, I am not sure if I like okra…..

  10. Leila says:

    The only vegetable I need help liking is turnips. It may just never happen, although I did learn to like radishes (by slicing them thinly into salad) and beets (salt roasted or in a smoothie). But every year I’m at a loss for what to do with the turnips in my CSA.

    • Kathy Grant says:

      I, too, wanted to find a way to eat them. Someone turned me on to this: slice them real thin and then bake in the oven. They tasted similar to potato chips.

  11. jari says:

    I didn’t really have a problem with veggies even before I started this, but my taste has definitely changed & started to eat (and even crave) things I thought I hated! Namely raw onions, olives, pickles, bananas & mushrooms (no, not all at once :D ).

  12. Janie says:

    Love this article! I know so many people who tell me they hate veggies. Sometimes you can disguise vegetables in sauces and soups by pureeing them and using flavorful spices to add taste and mask the bitterness. Adding leafy greens and carrots to fruit smoothies is a great way to add them to your diet and you won’t even know they’re there. I also use cauliflower as “rice” and cabbage as “noodles”. Spices make everything taste better and many have additional health properties too. I have lots of recipes and ideas on my blog, glutenfreevegan.me for ways to disguise those veggies.

  13. Mike says:

    I lost 120 pounds mostly eating starches – whole grains, some beans, whole grain cereals, fruit and dropped my cholesterol a ton. I HATED all vegetables, would gag if I tried them, but I read McDougall books and he put my mind at ease that I had to eat tons of greens or whatever. I now eat some vegetables, but still high in starch my numbers are perfect, blood sugar is perfect, cholesterol, bp, all my vitamin levels, protein. I really like this post, good job, keep it up.

  14. lance1971 says:

    I was a lot like most people. The only veggies i would eat were corn and potatoes. Now I eat something green at every meal. I eat every kind of vegetable. Its funny how at 10years old, broccoli was the worst tasting thing on the planet. At 20 it was good when smothered in cheese and butter. at 40 its wonderful raw and plain. My wife loves Brussels Sprout, for some reason I’m not the biggest fan. But I eat them when we make them.

  15. Kw says:

    I agree wholeheartedly! When I became vegetarian 3 years ago, I did not like many veggies and was a picky eater. I made the decision primarily because I did not want to support factory farming in any way. I DECIDED to change my feelings abouts veggies. I figured if I liked any of them, I should like all of them…they’re just plants. That mantra got me past my hang ups and I will now eat pretty much any plants and love them. Veg food is amazing and I enjoy it so much more than I ever enjoyed meat. Now I’m amazed when someone turns there nose up at my tofu considering what their meat went through before it ended up on their plate.

  16. Bonnie says:

    I like vegatables but have a hard time eating enough of them along with other stuff. I can only handle small amounts of food at one time. Is it ok once in awhile to drink a soy protein drink with veggies or fruit in it. Sometimes its easier to drink something than eat. Not everyday but maybe 2 or 3 x a week. Especially at work!
    LOVE YOUR ENGINE 2 BOOK!! thanxx

  17. missgin82 says:

    do not want to eat tofu or anything that is processed in any way, except maybe nut milks. The thing is I hate mushrooms, which is usually the meat substitute I find, onions, celery, peppers…cannot find meals that doesnt include these things

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    The Engine 2 blog will feature tips, plant-strong success stories, how to make plant-strong work, answer your questions and feature special guest experts. Our goal is to provide you with the tools to help you become and stay plant-strong. Please be sure to jump in the conversation by leaving comments on each post!
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