Transitioning Children to a Plant-based Diet:
by Sharon McRae www.eatwell-staywell.com
My personal transition to a completely plant-strong diet was a gradual one. I had read T. Colin Campbell’s “The China Study” and made the decision that to protect my kids from ever suffering from cancer the way their two grandparents and both great-grandmothers did. Here are some of the ways I supported my family through this transition:
- I explained to my three children why we were making the transition to a plant-strong diet. We watched the fabulous movie “Forks Over Knives” together.
- We explored recipes from some amazing recipe books including “Engine 2 Diet” by Rip Esselstyn, “Unprocessed” by Chef AJ, and “Super Immunity” by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, among others, and I began experimenting with new foods with family input.
- I found delicious substitutes for the kids’ favorite foods. We used Daiya “cheese” initially and later transitioned away from it. See our recipe for pizzas made with pizza-hummus. The kids say it’s the best pizza they’ve ever eaten! And see the recipes for raw brownies from Chef AJ and black bean brownies from Dr. Fuhrman which are all huge hits with the kids.
- I encouraged my family to help with choosing recipes and with food preparation.
- Our new kitchen tools include a huge salad bowl, a rice cooker to make big batches of grains for the week, a pressure cooker to quickly cook beans (some of which otherwise take 45 minutes to boil), and for a big batch of some type of bean vegetable soup. A blender makes quick, delicious salad dressings, sauces & smoothies, and a food processor makes bean spreads and nut butters for sandwiches and snacks.
- Our motto: Be prepared and plan ahead. Having grains, beans and veggies on hand allows me to throw together a meal in minutes. We always have hummus or another bean dip, nut butters, and plenty of fruits and vegetables in the fridge. We never travel without snacks like fresh or dried fruits, kale chips, hummus and sprouted grain bread, carrot and celery sticks, so we are never caught hungry without plant-strong, unprocessed options.
- I shared plant-strong recipes with the kids’ friends when they were here for play dates, everything from kale to black beans, and shared the recipes with their parents. It was good for my kids to be able to share healthy foods with their friends, and that they taste great for everyone! When extended family is over, exclusively plant-strong meals are popular with everyone.
- I began sending the kids to parties with a plant-strong dish to share for everyone. I call or email the host/hostess in advance and explain that we do not eat animal-based products, including dairy, and I offer to send the kids with a dish. Almost every time, the dish is a huge hit and the host/hostess asks for the recipe!
My kids never feel uncomfortable about eating differently than most people; in fact, they are proud that the way we eat is best for our health, for the animals, and for the planet. I tell them that the food is made with pure love, and the reason it tastes so good is because it always contains that ingredient. I hope that this inspires you to consider transitioning your family to a plant-based diet!