The Daily Beet

06 Jun Saving Time With Char: Be a Promoter!

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Saving Time with Char

After Reading This, You Will Save Time (from debating your plant-strong lifestyle)

A few years ago, I was part of a panel where someone had asked me, “How do you defend your plant-strong lifestyle to others?”  In that very instant, my response to this audience member was, “Well, I do not defend it.  I promote it.  I have spent many years of my life being defensive, it is time for me to switch gears and learn to promote what I love, rather than defend it.”  It has sort of like been a mantra for me since then.

Friends who have known me for a long, long time have seen me on and off every diet in the world.  Frankly, I think they are waiting on the sidelines for me to return to my old, unhealthy ways, as I used to in the past.  But, most of them know, by now, that I am in the plant-strong arena for the long haul.  They know that I am not on a quick-fix diet, but rather a way to achieve and maintain better health.

I meet many people who always say to me, “Is your family plant-strong?”  And, the answer is no.  I refer to them as the “Carnivorious Connelly’s.”  In the beginning, I would cook two meals each night, one for them, and one for me.  But, after a short time, I tired of that.  I couldn’t promote their eating animal based foods, when in fact, it was such the opposite of my own new, beliefs.  The one good thing, well, one of many good things, is that I love to cook, and can make anything from three ingredients.  Most of the food I make tastes great.  And, I have learned that the best way to the plant-strong side is to attract them with baked goods.  I mean, let’s face it, who doesn’t love a Mighty Muffin?  I never use the word, “vegan,” because it has so many stereotypes to it.  To me, plant-strong has always sounded kind and loving.

Believe it or not, being plant-strong has added harmony to my life.  And, I have chosen for it to be a building block and not a wedge in my relationships.  Thought I would share a few tips with you.  Maybe you can think about ways to weave them into your own life so that the “strangeness” of being plant-strong can become the “new norm”  for you and yours.  Because, remember, you want to be a promoter, not a defender.  My family really knows how important being plant-strong is, and on Mother’s Day, my daughter took me to a “vegan” restaurant for a light snack after our annual 5K.  When I first my began this E2 lifestyle, we’d head to a regular “diner” where I would comb the menu for plant-strong foods.  Now look, they get my drift!  She made sure we went to a place that was meat-free!

So, here are a few easy tips to help integrate your plant-strong  lifestyle into that of your family members.  I say, “Start small, GO BIG!”  This will work great with your immediate family, and ignites good practice for guests and party goers!

-Definitely make your house a “Meatless Monday” kind of place.  Starting with something like “Raise the Roof Lasagna” or “ParmesaNO Burritos” is a good start.  And remember, plant-strong desserts always win them over.  Try the Adonis Chocolate Cake, you cannot go wrong.

-Mix your pastas.  Begin mixing whole wheat pasta with duram wheat pasta, and eventually, increase the whole wheat, next thing you know, everyone will be eating whole wheat pasta.  Make this a gradual change.  Everyone will soon come to love the nutty flavor of the whole wheat pasta.  Another thing, use new shapes of pasta, this way, you create excitement about “something new.”

-Start introducing new, non-oil, salad dressings.   My family loves a “Caeser Salad” with dressing made with walnuts.  It is their preferred dressing.  Who knew?

-If family members are still eating white bread, make a sandwich using whole wheat on the bottom, white bread on the top.  Integrating the change starts small.

-Start making extra portions of your favorite foods.  I always make extra sides of veggies, and people slowly come to the “other side of the table.”

-Have a family meeting about what foods that can come in the house, and what foods can’t.  Takes some negotiating, but it allows you to take a stance about the importance and validity of your being plant-strong.  If it is in your house, label it as “theirs.”

-Introduce a “new” recipe each week.  Ask your family for input about what they’d like to try.  Their investment will go a long way.

-If you’re headed to a party, take your BEST plant-strong meal.  I always like to take a dessert…people will assume I’ll be bringing a fruit salad, but they are always blown away with a delicious dessert.

There are many other small steps that you can take to integrate your food choices into the family main stream.  More than anything, you do not want to create a wedge.  Always eat dinner together.  Take nothing personally.  Remember to use your experiences as a “gateway” to help your family come to the plant-strong side of the table.

And mostly, always promote your plant-strong lifestyle, never defend it.  With due time, your lifestyle promotes itself when people see how great you look and feel.

Be Plant-strong to Thine Own Self.

Invite Your Family Into Your World!

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Char Nolan for Engine 2
Char Nolan

Char Nolan is a blog contributor and Engine 2 Extra Coach. She's been plant-strong for almost five years. From Philadelphia, she works in the plant-based whole foods arena, and is also the "vegan features writer," for the "Town Dish." She's lost a great deal of weight from being plant-strong, practices yoga, and is always dabbling in her kitchen to create new, plant-strong recipes. Armed with a degree in public health, Char also holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from e-Cornell.

  • kat mckinney
    Posted at 12:55h, 06 June

    thanks so much for your great ideas! i too live in a divided house . my husband wants three course traditional meals and my brother wants to gain weight and i want to eat plant strong and lose weight!! i cook three separate dishes for each meal. my best plan is to get them served first then make my own dish but i always eat alone 🙁

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