When you live by yourself, or with a vegan (or non-vegan partner even), you have a job and pay your bills, it’s easy to make the rules. At least you can make rules for yourself and buy and cook whatever you like. You don’t have to ask anyone for permission to abstain from eating animal products.
But the truth is, a lot of young women and young men in the United States are trying to eat vegan and find it hard because they either live with roommates, who don’t like food rules or they live at home with their parents, who purchase all the groceries and cook the meals. This was PD reader Laura’s quandary! While not always easy, these scenarios are not a reason to give up or be desperate. There are some easy ways to navigate non vegan living environments without giving up your own convictions.
- Find accidentally vegan foods
A great way to introduce vegan foods to non vegans, and to de stigmatize them, is to find options that are no obviously labeled as vegan. Oftentimes parents or roommates can be sensitive to dietary ‘restrictions’ because they believe there are too few options and it means you have to give up on flavor and won’t be able to enjoy food anymore. So finding vegan options that aren’t obviously vegan is a good way to normalize things. A lot of crackers, chips, nut butters, and oatmeal are vegan, so are a lot of cookie brands. If your roommates or parents love pizza and pasta, suggest a cheese-free option without necessarily pointing it out. Another “accidentally vegan” food? Fresh fruits, dried fruits, and raw veggies! Ask your parents to load up on fresh fruits next time you go grocery shopping–even the most diehard omni parents can’t find any objection to that.
Peanut butter is probably your omni family already adores–and it can be turned into “secret vegan” foods like these peanut butter chocolate cookies.
- Own some of the cooking
If you want to take it to the next level, then own some of the cooking yourself. No matter if you live with your parents or with roommates, just offer to make some of the meals. The best way to convince skeptics is through delicious, tasty food. Maybe it’s one meal a week or maybe one meal a day that you can own and offer to provide for everyone. It’s easy to find yummy free recipes online so experiment and feed your loved ones with your favorite recipes.
This Vegan Caramelized Onion Dip is easy enough to throw together and palate-pleasing for even the staunchest omnis.
- Allocate some money to food
This is mostly for anyone who lives with their parents and has very little say over the food their parents purchase: have a conversation with them and ask for a part of your monthly money to be allocated to vegan options. Or just go ahead and allocate some of the money you have yourself to vegan options and purchases vegan snacks and other foods you want to have available around the house.
- Don’t argue, share.
Oftentimes people are hesitant to open their minds towards a vegan/plant-based diet because it asks into question their own convictions, which can often be health-related. Parents especially don’t always find it comfortable to debate nutrition questions with their kids if they don’t believe in a vegan diet. So instead of being aggressive about it and trying to be right, just inform yourself, own the studies and facts and if your parents or roommates have questions, you will be a resource for them.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself
Even if you try all of the above, it’s possible that you might still not be able to eat vegan 100% of the time. Instead of following the ‘all or nothing’ paradigm, try to focus on all the vegan meals that you already eat and on all the little things that you do. Remember that veganism is a journey and that every step counts and helps to move the needle.
Do you have any tips on how to be vegan when you’re living at home?
Also by Isabelle: From Michelin-Starred Pasta To Fresh Figs–The Best Vegan Eats In Venice
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Photo: Lauren Kirschmaier; Molly Lansdowne