At this years Vegan Australia Day, I spoke to the crowd about how to bring the family along the plant-based journey as a time-poor mum.
As a part of that talk, I shared the “Mum Pledge” – 10 principles to live by when it comes to plant-based cooking for the family. Here they are:
👉 Pledge 1. I will cook once, and eat twice
Double the recipe. Freeze the other portion for a quick “takeaway” on the nights you don’t want to fix a meal. Or, eat it the next day. Less time in the kitchen = more time doing something else that you enjoy!
👉 Pledge 2. I will aim for progress over perfection
Change is hard! Mistakes happen. Transition takes time. We are not trained chefs – we are women who fell in love, had babies and now find ourselves (mostly) being the go-to food source and answering the never ending question: “What’s for dinner?” Don’t chuck it all in if you overcook the tofu. And if you can’t do plant-based all of the time, that’s totally ok too. Aim to do more than you did yesterday and that’s still moving in the right direction and making progress.
👉 Pledge 3. I will play
It’s just food. Don’t take it too seriously. Enjoy yourself. Crank up the music, pour a glass of whatever you fancy, and get busy in the kitchen. Listen to podcasts while you prep. Invite the family to join you so that it’s family time. Get your fingers and kitchen messy! Play, play, play and enjoy making great food and better memories.
👉 Pledge 4. I will use my time-saving gadgets
Dust off the slow-cooker. Use that microwave. Make your food processor chop the veg. Bring out the dead and have them involved in the process. Kids and Beardos also count as gadgets on this one – get them involved too!
👉 Pledge 5. I will keep a well-stocked pantry
Yep, you know it! If you have stuff on hand, it makes life so much easier. Here are my personal favourite ingredients for the pantry:
👄 Savoury Yeast Flakes / Nutritional Yeast
👄 Apple Sauce
👄 Canned Beans
👄 Wholegrain Rolled Oats
👄 Coconut Cream / Coconut Milk
👉 Pledge 6. I will be the CHEF
As the chef, you get to choose what to make and serve the family. BUT you also have a duty of care to make the food taste a good as possible. Practice. Learn about flavour combinations. Take into account your family’s taste preferences and try to appeal to them. If someone doesn’t like tofu but you love it, leave it off their portion. Discover dishes that your family love and it will make the transition so much easier.
👉 Pledge 7. I will try a new dish weekly
Nobody likes to get stuck in food groundhog day where you recycle the same fortnightly meal plan time after time. The kids might like not having to be challenged – they become quickly comfortable with familiarity. But stretch them and yourself by cooking outside of the box once in a week.
👉 Pledge 8. I will customise my approach
As I said earlier, change is hard. You’ll need to come at things differently depending on who you are talking to.
For young children: highlight the impact on animals. This kind of association with love comes naturally. Keep the conversation PG rated – no need to hit them hard with the facts and info. But do talk about so that they can understand why this dietary change is important.
For adolescents: put a focus on physical appearance (vanity) – they spend their time in the mirror preening around this age. How they look is super important and a healthy diet can help them look (and feel) so much better. By talking about how mucus forming dairy is which leads to pimples for example – well, you’ll have a captive audience!
For adults: an approach that speaks to environmental impacts and overall health benefits, particularly weight-related benefits work well. Invite your SO to watch related documentaries. Lead by example too. If you are looking and feeling better from plant-based foods, make a comment to that effect! Our partners don’t always notice … 😂
👉 Pledge 9. I will track nutrition
If you are leading the change, then you must have a basic level of nutritional awareness to ensure everyone is meeting their needs. Cronometer is an excellent free app. Enter the ingredients, and you’ll quickly see where you’re deficient at the end of each day. You don’t have to do this forever, but it really helps in the beginning and also offers peace of mind.
👉 Pledge 10. I will not preach or judge
The best way to inspire change in others is to say as little as possible, actually. Not to jam it down their throats via personal crusade. Let your family ask questions and be kind and brief in your response. Let them pull information from you, not have it pushed onto them.
It can feel stressful being the main food provider of a growing family, especially as you transition to a healthier way of eating. If you’d like some support, be sure to sign up for our Tiny Course to start breaking things down into small, doable steps to ease the overwhelm and pressure.
You CAN do this, it’s just going to take a little time and effort
With lashings of love,