Family not vegan

I've been an avid vegan for some time. However, lately it's been getting worse and worse in my home for me to practice veganism. All of my family are committed omnivores and will not cut me any slack. One will say they just can't go without meat, another will say it's just not natural, and another feels it is too expensive and time-consuming.

In any case, I feel like I'm falling further and further from my vegan worldview.

Please help me before it's too late!
Ralf G
Gallatin, TN

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Sassy Sez: Hi Ralf, my darling I feel your pain. It can be very tough to stick to your vegan guns when everyone around you is non-vegan and simply does not understand where you are coming from.

Hubby Jeff and I have been vegan together all these years which has made things considerably easier than so many Vegans have it out there. And if the results of a questionnaire I sent out recently are any indication, the challenge you are having is echoed throughout the entire vegan community.


Strangely enough, I was speaking with my mom about this very topic yesterday.



She's been vegan since 1994-1995, and really had no support whatsoever since the entire family and all of her friends are non-vegan. While everyone has come to accept her choice, in the beginning it was really tough.

I asked her, "Mom, when things were so difficult, why didn't you just go back to non-vegan?" Her answer? She so believed that what she was doing was right for her, that there was absolutely no shaking her from her convictions. She absolutely positively would not eat meat again. Period. End of the story.

But as she noted, everyone must find their own way through the "tough times"; there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Lone vegan in the family? Click to join us on Facebook to read our community's helpful tips and advice...


One thing I am pretty darned positive does not work when your family is not vegan too?



Trying to "convince" them to go vegan.

While you may not be trying to convince your family, the mere fact that you ARE vegan can cause them to immediately think you want them to join you. Their defenses come up, and the comments begin as they do their best to convince you that it is a BAD idea. If they can shake you from your roost, they will no longer have to deal with the uncomfortable feelings they are likely experiencing!

Of course, trying to convince you to NOT be vegan is just as bad as convincing someone who is not vegan to go vegan. It's a decision that really has to be made by each individual. Because if you don't do it for the right reasons, then you might fall "off the wagon" at the first sign of a challenge to your decision.

Ralf, maybe if you reviewed the WHY you are vegan, you would find the resolve you are looking for. Can you sit your family down and let them know that you are committed to this, and that you need their support? Perhaps if they knew that your decision to be vegan has no bearing on whether or not they become vegan, they might lighten up?

I would love to hear from others out there - and I know there are many of you (!). How do you handle the (usually) inevitable challenge of non-supportive family or friends?

Sending giant hugs to you, Ralf. xo

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Jul 06, 2011
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Hi Sassy and all!
by: Marti O'Brien

Hi...I enjoyed your latest message, as I always do, Sassy.

I was Vegetarian for thirty years, and every once in a while I'd slip over to being vegan for a time..

When I married Mr.X, (we are separated,) all of that went out the window. I really don't know why, and I've stopped trying to figure it out.

He didn't try to get me to go back to being a carnivore...I just did.

These days I eat quite healthy foods...but I do eat chicken and fish.

I would really like to go Vegan, once and for all and for the rest of my days here on this planet... but I don't seem to be able to get it together.

The comment You made to Ralf got me to thinking.

You said that maybe he should look at the reasons that he wanted to become vegan in the first place, as that might help him.

I am going to give that a try.

I'll let You know how I'm doing. :)

,,,,Just a small aside:....Sassy, I have stopped smoking after almost a lifetime, (I will be 69 in August,) of smoking and trying to quit. I started in my early teens.

It was really quite easy. It's been over three months now...I will never, ever go back to that filthy, unhealthy...not to mention expensive habit again!


I am fortunate in my endeavor to go Vegan, as I have total support from my wonderful daughter...who has been vegan for many years...And I have a sister who is vegetarian who is also very supportive of me.

Bye for now, Sassy...I'll let YOu know how I'm doing in my resolve to going back to a healthier way of life.
Hugz....Marti

Jul 06, 2011
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Local Vegetarians
by: Lynne

I was going to suggest that Ralf connect with other vegetarians--or vegans, if there are any--in his area. But then I realized I know nothing about Tennessee; there may not be much available. So I searched "vegan gallatin tn" and quite a few links came up, as well as a list of (supposedly) nearby vegetarian/veg-friendly restaurants. So now I feel safe recommending connecting with others. :-) It's no substitute for having a supportive family, or at least one that leaves you alone about it. But it's always wonderful to have fellow vegetarians/vegans to talk to. Many of them will have had the same problem. Ralf, I'm really sorry that your family is unsupportive. But you have decided that this is the right diet for you, so don't let them sway you. I send supportive hugs!

Jul 06, 2011
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Why the conflict?
by: Nancy F.

Ralf doesn't say who does the cooking in his family, so compromise probably depends on that. I have a friend who is a strict vegetarian (not vegan) and her husband is just as strict a carnivore. They don't harass each other, they just respect each other's choices and prepare meals accordingly. It's up to the vegan person to suggest/provide alternatives for ingredients like broth, cream, butter, etc. but other than that, it shouldn't be too difficult to just not eat the animal-derived part of a meal. If the family harasses based on principle, just smile and say "OK". They're entitled to their opinions.

Jul 07, 2011
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You're not alone Ralf!
by: Debbie / Vermont

My family thinks I'm crazy but I'm enjoying it anyway. It's all about the feeling and I'm sticking with it. Ralf....just be strong and stick up for what YOU want for a way of life. Although my husband stands by me, he is still a meat eater. But, it's my daughter who stands in my face to let me know she LOVES BLOODY MEAT. It just does not bother me anymore. As for help/vegan friends in my area. I'm alone for now and still looking for other Vegans to trade stores/recipes an such! Stand strong Ralf!
As for this site " Vegan Coach "!! I'm in love with it and it's been a huge help to me.
Many Thanks to you Sassy

Jul 07, 2011
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Knock 'Em Over With Delicious Food
by: Adam Ortiz

Totally feel your pain! When my (now) wife and I first started dating, she openly confessed that she didn't know if she could ever be with a vegan longterm. Her concerns were that we were going to eat nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and that I would never let anything made out of meat enter our kitchen. I'm kind of stubborn, so at that point I committed myself to learning how to cook amazing meals.

Now, I make vegan dinners six nights a week, and a "certified humane" chicken dish for her as a special treat. I do 100% of the cooking because I got so good at it. With many of my friends, I have found this to also be effective. Since most people associate vegan food with being tasteless or uninventive, a few stellar recipes will show people how delicious it can be. Just last week I got a construction worker friend of mine to eat tofu - which was a major victory.

I also realize the dynamic can be way more difficult with family. If you're living at home, I recommend finding support in the vegan community, even if it's online. And then, some day, you will have a place of your own where you can go vegan crazy.

Hope you're feeling the love!

-Adam

Jul 07, 2011
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Vegan 4 Life
by: amy

I realized that I am not going to convert anyone to veganism by preaching and talking about it. I refuse to compromise my ethics and beliefs, so now whenever i go anywhere if its a pot luck or home party, people always call me to see if they can prepare a vegan food especially for me. Even tho they won't embrace the lifestyle, they always honor me, which is a great start for them. At first i thought i could change people by talking, but i feel they are changing a bit due to my example of great energy, health, my joy, and that being almost 60, I look fantastic too! I have been vegan for 3 years after meeting Will Tuttle of The World Peace Diet, converting from vegetarin for 10 yrs., and becoming vegan was the best decision I ever made. I also recommend The perfect Formula Diet book as well, as it has helped me with my meal planning, and I am loving myself, my friends, my planet, and the world right now! Vegan living glows!

Jul 07, 2011
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Eating Out With Friends
by: Lisa

I understand your pain,...lol.. We have a hard time eating out with friends or having them over for dinner. They don't seem focused on the companionship, they are more focused on "But what will we eat?" I tell them what the menu is going to be and always tell them they are more than welcome to bring a meat or meat dish to augment the meal. They seem to think I will be offended if they do. I am not.

I always cook with each person's allergie,etc. in mind and I don't mind cooking meat for others. Its their choice what they want to eat.

My dad is 92 and he had been heading more and more towards being a vegetarian, but there are times when he wants his meatloaf. So I make it for him. Sometimes it even smells good when I'm making it and then I lick the utensil that I cut it with and I remember one of the reasons why I don't eat it. Once I have gotten away from the meat, I haven't eaten any for almost two years, even the feel of that fat in my mouth turns my stomach.

I don't believe in hurting animals for my sustenance, and I don't believe that I should decide for anyone else what they should believe or eat. If they are curious and ask, I will tell them, but I am not going to bang my head against the wall to convert them.

So Ralf, enjoy your way of eating and your life. You aren't hurting anyone or any animal...

Jul 07, 2011
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I feel your pain!
by: Anonymous

I am not only the sole vegan member of my family, but I am the only vegan I know. I had a vegan coworker (who was actually a big part of my decision to go vegan), but then he gave it up months ago. My wife's best friend gave up vegetarianism after 15 years to go full carnivore as well. That was the last of my support system.

It has become difficult for me as well. I am so tired of not eating at family gatherings, vacations,work events, etc! It is rarely feasible for me to bring my own dish, so I often just have a meal replacement bar (yuck), go hungry until I can get something else, or just skip the event and eat alone. I live in Tennessee as well, and besides Whole Foods, options are few.

I cling to the fact that I am the healthiest I have ever been and I feel great. I know I am doing the right thing for me, I just hate that I am the only one I know that is doing it! Sorry if this sounds whiny :-)

Jul 09, 2011
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Love the honesty
by: Allison

Stay strong! Thanks for being honest about how hard it can be sometimes. I come from a family of hunters and farmers. I have learned to cope by poking fun and being able to be poked at (haha). I go out of my way to make jokes about myself and this makes being vegan feel like permanent institution for me.

Jul 12, 2011
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Sassy Sez...
by: Sassy

Hi everyone -- You are all so fabulous. Thank you for chiming in with your thoughts here in this thread. It is such an important topic, and one that most of us vegans deal with at some point so it is nice to hear the varying thoughts on the subject.

Marti, wow, congratulations on your decision to quit smoking!! That is just the coolest. It sounds like perhaps the healthier way you are eating these days may have had something to do with the ease of it all? Anyway, YES please do check in and let us know how you are doing. Always so nice to have an update. :)

Lynne, that was a good idea. Thanks for checking to see if there is any support nearby Ralf. And of course, others can/should do the same thing in their own neck of the woods when looking for vegan support. Excellent. :)

Great ideas, Nancy. And I absolutely agree -- there is not any reason to "get into it" with people. It can be QUITE an exhausting way to live (believe me, I know from past experience - oy!). Everyone is entitled to their own opinions.

(To be continued...)

Jul 12, 2011
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...Continued
by: Sassy

Debbie, thank you so much. So happy to have you here as well. xo

Adam, surely you should be a poster child for how to "work" with your friends and family who are non-vegan. I applaud you for your fantastic efforts. It sounds like you have found a way that works for you, and I hope others can take this piece of advice and find a way to apply it to their lives as well. :)

Way to go, Amy!!! I love how leading by example your friends are opening their minds to how they can help you out. That is just such a loving and positive place to come from. And I'm sure you adore them for it. If non-vegans only knew how much it means to their vegan friends and family to be supported they might give it a go, especially if they know there are "no strings attached". Beautiful.

Excellent, Lisa. Reminds me of how when Jeff and I meet new friends who later find out we are vegan. Conversation moves from talking about fun and life and goals and vacations to talking about the politics of food; the age-old arguments come up we have heard 10 bazillion times "We were meant to be carnivores, blah blah blah." I simply say "Ugh! Guys, talking about this stuff is BOR-ING. If you REALLY want to know more, I can recommend a couple books and websites to you." And that is the end of that. Then we go back to talking about fun stuff. :)

To those, like Anonymous, who have no support system, be sure to check out Meetup.com to see if there are any veg groups meeting in your area. Here is one near Nashville, but you can do a search for the largest town/city closest to you.

Love your spirit, Allison. Keep on keepin' on, girlfriend. :) xo

Dec 06, 2011
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We were both vegan until I got pregnant
by: Joell

My husband is still vegan and I am so proud of him, but for some reason I could not stay vegan when I got pregnant. I got really dizzy and felt very shaky. I am now breastfeeding and I still have not converted back but I am able to eat more vegan meals without feeling so sick. My husband complains all the time and it does make me feel bad, but to me he just doesn't understand where I am coming from. He hasn't made an effort to learn how to cook for himself and only prepares the premade foods. So I call him a junk-food vegan. He truly appreciates when I cook him food when I am able to, but I wish that he would make more of an effort to contribute himself. Through this string of comments I am happy to see the thoughts on remembering why your vegan and to make fantastic meals! There is nothing worse than someone preaching to you on why you should be vegan and then complain in the same breath that they are hungry! We have 3 kids and the oldest (8) has a hard time being vegan. So I do cook both meals! I am so burned out of all the variations of shopping, cooking, and plain inconvience of it all! Thank you for the blogs and helping me to get ideas. This website has helped me so much!!!

Dec 07, 2011
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Some thoughts...
by: Sassy

Hi Joell!

Great to hear from you, and congrats on your newest bambino. :)

Firstly, I am so happy you listened to your body and did what you felt was right for you at the time. Some might disagree, of course. But they can start their own website. :)

Now that you are slowly but surely checking out vegan again, I just want to be sure you and your family are getting the nutrients you need. Be sure to study this page of my site: http://www.vegancoach.com/vegan-nutrition.html

Now, let's talk about your hubby. When Jeff and I went vegan (him first!), we were completely and totally lost. Neither one of us could cook worth a damn. But since he was a full-time entertainer, and I was self-employed, it sort of landed on my shoulders to learn how to cook. ESPECIALLY because back in '94 there were really no restaurants we could get vegan grub at, and certainly very little to choose from in the frozen aisle of our little co-op.

So since I learned the ropes, I just stuck with it. Then one day, Jeff made some soup. And it was AMAAAAAZINGLY good. He then became our soup guy in the colder months. But that is ALL he would/could make.

But what else was he doing? He was able to go into the fridge (usually late at night) and pull out leftovers -- a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and make some really good tasting dishes! He would tell me about them when I'd wake up (yes, these are the things that excite us - ha!).

So once in a while when I was too busy or tired I'd ask him to whip something up. And I'll be damned if every dish he made wasn't superbly good!

So that's sort of how Jeff got interested in cooking. Now he is our "bean" guy and our "rice" guy. And when I get really busy and really tired, he is still able to hop into the kitchen to make some really great dishes.

So where am I going with all of this? I wonder if perhaps it would be helpful to ask your hubby to take charge of ONE thing in the kitchen. Ask him to learn how to cook beans, and he can be the bean guy in your family. Or the rice guy. Or he can do the shopping (that's another thing Jeff does).

Mostly, it sounds as if you guys need to sit down and have a chat and divide up some of these chores a little more evenly

Hope this helps. And hope others will chime in with their ideas as well. :) xo


Mar 25, 2012
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I need Help
by: Heidi Dickson

Hi Everyone,

I want to be a vegan or a vegetarian, but I need help in doing that. My almost 12 year old daughter always makes fun of me when ever she eats a hamburger saying look at this yummy cow your missing out on it is so yummy. And then my Mom who I have to live with by court order due to my daughters abusive father sits there and my Mom will look at my daughter and instead of telling her not to do it she will laugh with Makayla.

My Mom says that she can't understand why I say the things I do about why I don't eat meat anymore for as now I got Makayla not to eat hotdogs. My daughter Makayla wouldn't eat hotdogs way before I decided to do this and I asked her why and Makayla says every time she eats a hot dog she feels something pop in her mouth. So I told my cousin Lee that and he says maybe it is an eyeball and Makayla says how do you know it isn't one or two so she won't eat it.

But they make fun of me all the time when they eat meat and I need your help.

I also need help because I am not sure if I can be considered such if I cook or buy meat for my family or buy or cook anything that consist of dairy or meat or fish or poultry or fowl, can I?

I need guidance on all of this.

I also need help in knowing which is better for me to do whether vegan or vegetarian. I haven't eating meat, poultry or fowl or fish for a while and I have cut way back on dairy products as well. Please help me.

I hope to hear back from someone or more than one person would be OK.

Heidi Dickson

Oct 08, 2012
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But what if
by: Lor

What if you are the one cooking for the family?
3 of 5 family members insist on meat.
I literally feel sick cooking it.
The smells,
the thick greasy air in the kitchen,
Its like its in my clothes.
With the holidays getting closer, Im freaking out.
I can cook just about anything, and they know it, I have a history of perfect turkeys and I just cant do it anymore.
I thought of screwing-up dinner up,lol, but after so many years of yielding to their wishes they would never buy it as an accident ;)
Any advice on how to handle this, when cooking is essentially my job (husband works much longer hours and gets home late).
Much appreciation for this great site.

Oct 09, 2012
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Cooking The Turkey
by: Lisa

How old are the other 4 members of you family?
If they are old enough you can pass the "honor"
of cooking the holiday turkey off to one of them.
That would mean you would have to go through it one more time to teach someone else, but after that you would only be in an advisory capacity.
Delegation is a wonderful thing. It makes people put up or shut up and they will get to be the ones
who get up in the wee hours to make sure their
favorite bird is perfect.

If your family members are not old enough to do this by themselves, perhaps you can bring your husband in on the teaching session to give them a hand. The house will still smell like meat and it will get into your clothes, but you will be able to take a couple of steps back and let those who really want it, make it.

Good luck on Turkey day! We'll be having a Quorn Roast...lol.

Oct 09, 2012
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thanks Lisa
by: Lor

I have a year or two before delegating happens, but that is the plan,for sure!

Oct 10, 2012
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Been there, done that :)
by: Meg

My best advice is to show them that vegan cooking is awesome and so delicious they won't even miss meat/dairy. That is how I won over my husband! He was a committed carnivore until I got a couple of great vegan cookbooks and started working my way through them. Guess what, he is now totally on board! He rarely even cheats when we go out to dinner. Sending best wishes to you!

Oct 10, 2012
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Response to "I Need Help"
by: Jill

Heidi,

Perhaps it might help to give your 12-year-old daughter an appreciation of the beautiful, sentient animals that she thinks are tasty. It is very easy to make jokes about meat when there is no true understanding of what that meat actually is (was). If you have a farm sanctuary in your area, you could take her on a visit. The tours at these places are wonderful and not only do you get to meet the animals and learn their stories, but most times the guides do a great job of educating visitors about the plight of these animals. I bet if you called in advance and explained what you were doing they would introduce your daughter to the animals with your goal in mind. You might even consider sponsoring one of the animals your daughter meets.

If you do not have a sanctuary near you, you could introduce her to the animals through one of the websites of a sanctuary. I think, for children, there is nothing more powerful than that connection with nature and knowing the truth. Once she makes that connection you might be able to find an online vegan community for kids where she can get support and participate.

Oct 11, 2012
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Some ideas...
by: Mary C.

It is so frustrating. The best you can do -- short of surprising them on movie night with the living color version of "Earthlings" -- is to teach what you know to be true. The suffering of millions of animals, the damage to our beautiful world, the poisons ingested by those who eat animal products, the proof of the bennies of a plant based diet; Forks Over Knives on movie nite; science versus gore.

Just do the best you can. Prayer might also help these lost souls. LOL.

Oct 11, 2012
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Mary C ! thats what I was going to do,lol!
by: Lor

Oh I am sooooo bad.....
I *was* going to show them Earthlings,lol.
What is worse is that I'm actually making bets/deals/negotiations to try to get them to watch it willingly. Im even trying to make deals with my husband.
Yes, I will stoop to many levels to *gently* encourage an educated decision.
Once educated, they make any choice they want.
Im feeling so pushy right now,lol.

Nov 13, 2012
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Love what is, vegan or not
by: Sue

I have only been a vegan for 9 months. I love eating this way and feel, for me, I was always meant to be vegan, I just didn't know it. I'm fortunate in that most my friends and family are 'ok' with my decision and don't give me any trouble or grief over it, even though they are all meat eaters. I knew from the very beginning it would be important to find a way to gently ease everyone into my decision. I also knew that possibly there would be feelings of 'you think you're better than us now because you don't eat animals' and other thoughts arising, but not verbalized.

What I did to encourage my friends and family was to openly thank them every time they made the slightest effort to accommodate me or support me in any way, shape, or form when it came to my decision. I kept telling my mother-in-law, which was the most opposed, that I really appreciated her support and knew my decision must seem strange to her since she was raised on a farm.

Whenever my vegan diet comes up in family situations, I always remind everyone how much I love eating this way and I have never been happier. How can anyone argue with that! Over time my friends and some family members got on board and now they cut out recipes they think I can eat and I'm very grateful of course.

Nov 13, 2012
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how I do it - veganism for one in a large family
by: Cara

I too am the only vegan in my family. I have been vegan for about 2 years but before that I was vegetarian for most of my life (I never liked meat as a child, the taste and texture, and made the connection about meat and where it comes from very early on). My parents and grandparents have agreed to disagree about what is healthy and so we avoid talking about our diets. This came after quite a few arguments. Yes, my mother sometimes asks me if I'm ready to eat meat again but I don't get offended. She really thinks that I am eating an unhealthy diet and her question is said out of concern for me.

I also am the cook for my family of 6. I am the only vegan but my daughters (age 4) are vegetarian. My husband and sons are not interested in giving up meat. I cook daily. My main goal is to provide my family with the healthiest foods possible. I make everything from scratch (no processed or pre-made foods here). On a typical night I will make a meaty main dish for the guys and a veganized version of the same main dish as well as a vegetable side dish and home made bread and fruit. Sometimes instead of making a veganized version of the dish for the guys I will make something completely different. Every one must eat some of the vegetable side dish but the rest is optional. If my daughters wanted to eat meat I wouldn't stop them but I am thrilled that they choose not to so far. My sons almost never eat the vegan food but there are a few vegan dishes they like (vegetable pot-pie). My husband eats everything. He also brings leftovers to work for his lunch and shares with his co-workers. Recently he even requested a vegan dish for a potluck lunch at work.

Cooking so much different food every day sometimes leaves me feeling tired and makes me question my choices. But whenever I seriously think about it I know that I can't eat meat. I must admit that there are nights when I am just too tired to make so many different dishes. On those nights I will skip making a vegan dish and eat leftovers. Those are the worst nights because I wish that I could put all of my creativity and energy into making the food that I want to eat. I also know that I can't force veganism on my family. I am lucky to have one very good friend who is also vegan. She is a major support for me. It seems impossible but as I plan my weekly menu I work it all out. I hope my explanation of how I do it helps some one.

Dec 03, 2012
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Here's an idea...
by: Sassy

Sue -- I just love your attitude. It's welcoming, open, and warm. I do believe that some of the biggest reasons Vegans have a challenge with friends/family is because of their own attitudes and projections. Of course, that is not the case for everyone! But definitely something to keep in mind. :)

Cara, my darling, it sounds like you are doing soooo much over there to keep things on track with everyone's diet. Whew! How exhausting for you.

Might I recommend you become your own Personal Chef? What this entails is finding one or two days/month (usually a weekend), to make a bunch of different recipes, portion them out, cool, vacuum seal (or use Tupperware), and freeze for later. Be sure to label with the date and the name of the dish, and use within 3-4 months, at the latest.

To use, defrost in the fridge for 24-48 hours. Then reheat. Or if you are using sealed bags, drop the sealed bag into a simmering pot of water for about 15 minutes, cut bag open, and plate. This ensures your food heats without cooking any further.

Your meals will be ready to go so you can focus on making the other meals you have to make. :)

On the other side of the coin, you can make the non-vegan dishes ahead of time, and make the vegan dishes fresh.

Hope this idea helps.

By the way, while they are not listed on our website just yet, we are going to start selling the sealers that I have used since back when I was a Personal Chef. This sealer lasts much longer than any sealers I have tried from places like Target or Kmart. Let me know if you're interested.

Giant hugs to you,
Sass


Dec 05, 2012
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More obstacles
by: Carol

As a celiac I already have a restricted diet to some extent. My husband has, for the most part, gradually moved across to eating gluten free at home. I am moving more and more to a vegan way of eating and have deliberately not said anything to hubby. However, I slip the occasional meal in that has no meat or animal products and he often says "that was tasty". He is not even aware that it was vegan!

Carol

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