Aaron left a comment on our "About Us" page asking us for tips on being vegan while still living under his parents roof. This post is dedicated to you Aaron, we hope it helps.
First, our disclaimer, we do not have any children ourselves, so we are certainly not experts on how to handle this situation (maybe some of our readers would like to chime in here), but we have talked about what we might do if we were in your parents' shoes. We can see two factors which might be problematic for you. If your parents are stressed for time, the parent who cooks may not be willing to make more than one meal. Also, if finances are tight, it might not be economically feasible for your parents to buy food for multiple cuisines. So here are a few ideas, in no particular order:
- Perhaps your parents are willing to have one vegan day a week (so your mom or dad doesn't have to cook more than one meal at a time). This way the whole family can participate, and perhaps make a gradual change to a vegan lifestyle.
- You can ask your mom or dad to buy you vegan cold cuts (the Yves and Tofurky products are pretty good and seem to be readily available) and vegan mayonnaise at the supermarket so you can have vegan sandwiches for lunch or even dinner. You'll need to make sure you've got vegan bread too!
- You probably want to offer to go grocery shopping with your mom or dad. When we first switched over to vegan eating, it took forever to go through the grocery store, we had to read every label. Your mom or dad might appreciate the help.
- If you have a job or are getting an allowance, and finances are a little tight at home, you might offer to buy some of your own food.
- Tofu is relatively inexpensive and a tofu scramble can be a very nutritious and delicious meal, add a bagel and Tofutti cream cheese (try to get the one in the yellow container if you can, it has no partially hydrogenated oils), along with a salad and you're good to go. Tofu is also found in a lot of grocery stores, usually in the Asian food section (refrigerated).
- There are also a number of packaged "meat" products that you can pick up at the grocery store that will make a fast supper. We highly recommend the Yves lettuce wraps (delicious) and Gardenburger Riblets (cannot get enough of these things). And there are a ton of vegan frozen burgers out there. A lot of people call this "junk food" but we feel that there are nights when you need something you can prepare quickly and easily, and these fit the bill.
- You might also offer to cook a meal once a week. This way you'll be in control of what you're eating, for that meal at least.
- If you live near a large city, you might have a few restaurants that are easily accessible. You could ask your parents if you could pick up dinner to go, or maybe you could get the family to go there for dinner when you're all going out. Vegan food tends to be less expensive than steak (selling point).
- Your school might offer vegan lunches. They probably have a number of special diets they have to cater to, so you should ask there.
- Taco Bell has a few vegan options: Bean Burrito (without cheese), Bean Tostada (without cheese), Mexican Rice (without cheese), Seven Layer Burrito (no sour cream, no cheese). They're a national chain, so you probably have one nearby.
- Soy Milk and Almond Milk (or other nut milks) are in most grocery stores now. Try to pass on the rice milk, it has much less nutritional value than the others.
- Hummus is your friend. Easy to find, easy to make, packed with protein and delicious!
- Another quick staple in our house: beans and rice, a whole wheat tortilla and green salad.
- Ask your parents to prepare a green salad with every lunch and dinner, this way you have something to eat, no matter what else they may be having.
- Be respectful of the food choices your family is making. We live in America, everyone has the right to choose what they eat for themselves. If you are militant or antagonistic, you are less likely to achieve the results you want. If you feel compelled to proselytize, try to limit it to non-meal time.
- There's some good information to read at The Vegetarian Resource Group that might be of help to you and your parents.
Your parents will most definitely be concerned about your nutrition, specifically whether you will be getting enough protein or calcium on a vegan diet. No matter who we tell we're eating vegan, that is one of the first things they'll ask us about. The link above has some helpful information. You can find tons more stuff online.
It's likely that most of the adults in your life will treat this lightly. They are probably assuming this is just some kind of teenage "saving the world" kind of fad. Next they'll expect you to say your joining the Peace Corps, or worse, voting Green. We're "old people" and some of our relatives keep asking us when we're going to be done with "this nonsense."
Without knowing your parents Aaron, it's hard for us to give you advice that will definitely help. If your parents are like my dad, then you're pretty much out of luck until you move out. Hopefully they're willing to work with you. Good Luck! Keep us posted.
Lane and Jane