First of all congratulations on deciding to go plant-based! That is no small feat in itself. But it is even harder when you don't have people around you to help.
Just about every person I know who follows a plant-based diet, transitions surrounded by matters. Sadly that is just the way it currently is since there are less of us on a plant-based diet.
But what happens when you live with people who aren't plant-based?
Not going to lie, I know all to well that it can be tricky to navigate relationships with family members, partners and housemates when you are making such big changes to your lifestyle.
Growing up I was never a fan of meat, especially red meat. Mum used to trick me into having beef lasagne because I only liked chicken or veggie ones. BBQ I would always have veggie burgers, but for the most part I just ate what I was given, because that is the way.
Then when I was 18 I started to work as a waitress and would often work dinners and lunches. Because of this, I started to cook for my self, and by default went vegetarian because I didn't want to cook meat. Both because raw flesh grosses me out and because I didn't really like it in the first place.
Fast forward a couple of years, and when I moved out of home I went vegan and then whole food plant-based. Then at the end of 2018 due to some mental health issues, I moved back in with my parents. So as you can tell I have had quite a bit of experience living plant-based with a family who isn't. Although I am happy to say my Mum now eats the same as me 90% of the time. Now to get my Dad and little brother on the bandwagon as well.
I see people ask about how to navigate this situation almost daily. So here I am to share some of my favourite tips to help you out.
Buy your own food
The first thing to think about is how are you going to do grocery shopping. This one is super easy if you live with roommates as you are probably already doing your own grocery shopping.
However, if your spouse or parents do the shopping, just ask to add your items to the list. Or go to the supermarket with them and pick out what you need.
Tip: Stick to the whole, plant foods since those tend to be less expensive and healthier but your parents or spouse can use them in their cooking as well.
When you get home you may find it easier to have a separate shelf or area for your food, in the pantry and fridge. That way you will know exactly what you have and your housemate's women accidentally eat your delicious food.
Before you go shopping the first time, check your fridge and pantry. Who knows many of your staple items may already be plant-based. For example, it turned out my "chicken" stock didn't have any animal products in it.
Make your own meals
Making your own meals will be so much easier. After all, you can't decide to go plant-based and expect everyone to stop making their favourite meals to accommodate yourself. To start with they will probably be confused about what you can even eat.
In saying this the kitchen can get crowded. To get around this you could cook the base dish plant-based and then the others can cook their own meat, dairy, eggs etc. to mix into it. My family often does this when it comes to curries and buddha bowls.
The other way to ease kitchen congestion is for you to do some meal prepping. That way all you need to do is put the finishing touches on your meal, and shouldn't need to take up the whole kitchen.
Not that anyone is really going to friends and family houses at the moment. But when the world opens back up, this is something you will need to think about. After all, it can be challenging going to dinner parties and BBQ when you are a newbie, especially if not everyone knows about your lifestyle changes yet.
And let's face it people have so many different dietary requirements it can be hard to keep track. So what I like to do is offer to bring my own plate of food with me. Sometimes the host says don't worry about it because they have it sorted and others are grateful for the help.
If you do bring your own food, bring more than enough. So often I have bought stuff for myself but people think it looks good and want to try it for themselves, leaving me with very little. Which I don't mind most of the time because it shows people the plant-based food can be delicious.
Another option is volunteering to host the event. That way you can make the majority of the food plant-based. Because people accommodate to me, I do like to accommodate meat-eaters. So if it is a BBQ I will say I have enough veggie burgers for everyone but if you want to bring your own sausages or burgers you can. The good news is most people are happy to go one even without meat.
This one follows on from the last tip. If someone very nicely does accommodate you but they accidentally, sprinkle a certain ingredient on top of it that isn't plant-based e.g. cheese (people often don't realise halloumi and feta is an animal product). Try not to be rude about it and dishonour the gesture. Just scrape it off and eat some of the dish.
Of course, give them a quick tip for next time so hopefully, it doesn't happen again. But try to be gracious for them trying. Especially if it's your grandparents who don't even understand what plant-based means.
Explaining, why you have decided to change your lifestyle, will help get those use live with more onboard. Often people see it as a fad diet you're not going to stick with and therefore don't take it very seriously.
However, if you get really specific on why you want to follow this lifestyle, they will be a lot more likely to come around. I say specifically because too many people say "for the animals", "for my health" etc. Instead, say I have decided to go plant-based because after doing some research, I realised that eating animal products can actually cause me to put on weight and feel more bloated.
Once you have that straight, explain it to your family. This is a life-altering decision so try to ease your family into it so they can see where you are coming from.
Don't try to convert them
As excited as your probably are about lifestyle change, not everyone is going to want to change with you. And that is okay. Everyone has to decide for themselves. I intentionally put this after explain why, because I know that, that tip will probably make you want to start telling people everything about going plant-based in hopes of them jumping on the bandwagon.
However, in reality, it will probably backfire on you. If they ask questions, answer them. But don't talk about a plant-based diet all the time. If you do, you will start to push people away because they just don't want to hear it.
Instead, offer to cook meals for them every now and again, if you are sitting down to watch a movie like "What The Health" or "Game Changers" ask if they want to watch. Do things in a natural way, where you come across as just trying to be nice, not pushy.
Handle jokes, taunting and silly questions with grace
As much as I hope it doesn't happen to you, you are most likely going to hear some jokes, taunting and silly questions.
The number 1 silly question being "how do you get protein?" I have heard it 100's of times. There is just no way around it.
The best way I have found with dealing with all this is to answer questions honestly and sensibly. And to just laugh off jokes and taunting. If you don't react they will get bored and stop doing it. If they don't stop, they obviously aren't very good friends.
You do you
In the end, you have the freedom to choose what you put in your body. Whilst it may be hard to ignore some peoples opinions it doesn't actually matter what other people think or say.
Are you plant-based living with people who aren't? How is it going?
And please don't forget to click those share buttons below to spread these tips across social media. I don't want anyone to not go plant-based just because they live with people who aren't.
What you should do now
I have been where you are and I have women all over the world (just like you) transition to eating a plant-based diet. If you are looking for a guide to help you find the healthiest way to eat, this check out these blog posts is a great place to start.
If you are interested in weight loss, download this fantastic FREE Mini Weight Loss Guide and other resources.
If you would like to fast track your weight loss, check out my Weight Loss Starter Kit.
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