Vegan FAQ for Families

Here you’ll find my short, and sometimes snappy, responses to questions people have.

Vegan means your diet is free of animal products, including honey. Fruit by the Foot and Cracker Jacks are vegan, so it’s not necessarily a health move. 

Plant-based means you focus on eating plants as opposed to meat and dairy, but you typically wouldn’t be scouring ingredient labels to check for a small bit of animal product.  A Beyond Beef Burger on a white bun is plant-based. 

Whole Food Plant-Based means you are focused on eating plants in their whole form, rather than processed foods like oil, meat substitutes, donuts, etc. 

Our family aims for 90% whole food plant-based diet. 

It turns out for the vast majority of us, protein is a non-issue.  There is some protein in practically every whole plant food.  I’m pretty sure all the hype around protein comes from the meat industry because it’s one of meat’s few redeeming qualities.  

I’ve never in my life met someone who is protein-deficient, yet I know loads of people who are suffering from diseases caused by not eating enough plants and those people are still pre-occupied with protein. Go figure. 

Not even a little bit.  We decided to go 90% whole plant-based, thinking we wouldn’t want to give up cheesecake and bacon forever.  Well, 12 years into this I have zero desire to eat bacon because my tastes have changed.  If I really want something with animal products in it, like a gooey traditional chocolate chip cookie, I just eat it and enjoy it.

Nothing too exciting to report! I don’t have any other reference point, and they were all a bit different from each other. I get sick in the first half and want nothing to do with leafy greens, so that’s a bit tough.  I don’t eat as well as when I’m not pregnant, but I’m still able to find foods that appeal, and I gained an appropriate amount of weight (~25-30lb) by just following my hunger cues.  

Finding healthy hospital food is sadly a bit difficult, but I get creative and appreciate the food my husband brings from home even more. 

Yep, this is a real question.  All baby mammals need milk from their own species to thrive.  I was grateful to be able to breastfeed each of my babies for over a year. 

No milk.  Once they’re done nursing, we just give them what we drink: water and occasionally smoothies.  They don’t have a biological need for milk past a certain point, and certainly not from another species.  Plant-based “milk” isn’t milk at all, so it’s also not a necessary part of a diet.

We use soy milk or almond milk in baking or on granola, but we don’t drink it by the glassful. 

It doesn’t, except in one way: I pay attention to higher-calorie foods like seeds, nuts, grains, and avocado, and I make sure my kids get more of them. They get nut butter on their toast, but I’ll pass on that sometimes.  I’ll serve their burrito in a whole grain tortilla with some leafies inside. I’ll often serve mine just on a bed of greens. 

I also snip up my young kids’ salads so they can eat them more easily. 

That’s it! As long as we’re not counting my mid-afternoon dark chocolate habit. My kids don’t usually share in that either.

The diapers. It’s wonderful my kids never have been constipated, and we’ve only very rarely dealt with diarrhea, but plant-based kids create a LOT of messy diapers.  Lots of fiber and lots of nutrition means lots of diaper changes.

Yep.  We have one who despises the texture of oatmeal made with rolled oats, another who doesn’t love raisins, one who turns up her noses at mushrooms, and another who avoids potatoes if possible.  But they all love arugula, willingly snack on green beans, and load up on almost everything I cook.  So they have food preferences, but we soldier on and we’ve seen many of those preferences shift over time.

Hardly ever.  We do eat tofu a few times a month, and we’ve tried vegan cheese once.  Pretty much the only meat imitation product we buy is the occasional Field Roast Sausage (so delicious but lots of added oil) and Beyond Beef Burgers (ditto.)

Scott loves a fancy restaurant meal periodically, and though we often seek out an ethnic restaurant that has vegan options, he has no problem with indulging in less healthy food on occasion.  We believe it’s what you eat most that counts the most.

We teach our kids that it’s most important to be polite and gracious, but beyond a polite bite they aren’t obligated to eat something.  Given the opportunity, we do let people know we’re vegetarian (most people don’t know what to do with vegans.) But we’ve been served shredded chicken and cheese enchiladas, roasted chicken, and more in people’s homes and we just eat some politely and fill up on sides. Relationships and health are our two priorities, but health won’t be ruined over one meal.  A relationship might be if we don’t respond with tact.

Not usually. We believe the biggest improvement in health comes from eating whole plant foods, even grown conventionally, so that’s what we focus on.  We do often buy in season and local, but we don’t focus much on whether something is certified organic. 

Ok, your turn!  Drop your burning question in the comments and I’ll answer it here. 

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