How to Eat Vegan as a Family
It can be difficult eating-plant based and living a vegan lifestyle when it’s just you. Doing it with a family poses a whole other challenge. However, in March 2017, Daryl, otherwise known as ‘Vegan Fam Man’, and his wife Gemma, did just that. Their Instagram account @veganfamman is so inspiring and it’s making waves in the vegan community. I got a chance to catch up with Daryl to understand their secret to keeping this going while staying so positive.
Here’s what I found out.
Making the Leap to a Vegan Lifestyle
Veggie Campus: I’ve been following you on Instagram for a while now. Your account is so inspiring! I love that you keep track of how many days you have been vegan, and it’s been 242 days now. Congrats! What made you make the change?
Daryl: For 45 years, I was a beef and cheese, fast food kind of guy. I’ve always been an athlete, going to the gym 3-5 days a week. My main goal was to stay in shape to keep up with my kids as they grew up. The problem was that my weight would yo-yo up and down and, like a lot of people, I fell into all the dumb diet B.S. that was the flavor of the month. In March of this year I decided to only eat veggies, fruits, and beans. After a couple of weeks, I felt great! I wasn’t bloated and I had so much more energy! Plus, I lost 5 pounds.
Veggie Campus: That must be such a great feeling. It’s hard to stick with new eating habits. How have you kept it up?
Daryl: My wife was so impressed with me that it motivated me even more. She was not only happy that I lost 5 pounds, but that I was getting healthy. At that point, we both decided to go VEGAN! Our journey has been amazing and I am so grateful to have a partner in crime with me to enjoy every new vegan experience! She and I love bouncing off ideas of what to prepare for meals. We also like trying new vegan restaurants and products. It’s an adventure!
Being Vegan with Kids
VC: That’s so awesome. From what I understand, having an accountability partner really helps. I’ve also noticed you have quite a big family. Are they vegan?
Daryl: Yes, we have 6 kids, the boys ages range from 23, 7 and 3 years old. The girls range from 18, 18 and 15. In the beginning my wife and I didn’t want all of the kids to experience such a dramatic change in their lives. After a month though, my wife and are were like, why would we still buy non-vegan food for the kids knowing how bad it is? So, we stopped. The two youngest are vegan. The older four are not vegan. We told them that they are old enough to make their own decisions but we would only serve vegan food at our house. As for the two youngest boys, we are happy they are young enough to not feel much of a difference. We just make sure we prepare delicious vegan food and stock up on favorite treats. The key is to educate them and keep it fun!!
VC: How do/ did you educate your kids about veganism?
Daryl: Since they are young, we don’t tell them all the gory details of what happens at dairy farms or slaughterhouses. We keep it simple and just tell them eating plants is better than killing animals for food. Communication is key in any type of parenting and that is what works for us.
VC: How do the younger boys keep that up at school?
Daryl: Our seven-year-old goes to a school that offers only vegetarian lunches. My wife and I are going to get together with the school to see what vegan options there are. For now, we make lunch every day. We keep it fun and switch it up with vegan lunch meats, fruits and snacks.
Benefits and Challenges
VC: As a family what has been the biggest challenge transitioning away from eating animal products?
Daryl: It is a challenge when we are hungry and stuck somewhere where there aren’t any vegan options. Especially for my son. It’s not easy when my seven-year-old asks, why can’t we just eat the food that is there and why wouldn’t they want vegans to eat. Now we make sure we plan ahead and locate places to eat before we go out anywhere. If it comes down to it, we hit up a grocery store and just buy vegan stuff to eat in the car.
VC: What is the biggest benefit of this lifestyle that keeps you motivated to remain vegan?
Daryl: My family will always be my main focus and motivation to remain vegan! I want to be around forever and watch my great, great, great grandchildren grow up. After educating myself in veganism, my reason for remaining vegan is a no-brainer. My wife and I began eating vegan for health reasons. But after knowing the positive impact being vegan has on animals and our earth, it just encourages us to permanently be vegan.
VC: What advice would you give to other families who are looking to go vegan?
1. Search for snack/sweets/junk food replacements first. The kids won’t feel deprived if they can still get awesome treats!
2. Veganize meals you already eat. This is a good place to start and won’t make the family feel like they can’t enjoy all their usual meals. This is where you get to explore and try all the different vegan substitutes.
3. Keep it fun! Since my wife and I became vegan, we have cooked a lot more, come up with our own recipes and also explored recipes that we have never made. The internet is your friend when searching for vegan recipes!
A big thank you to Daryl, Gemma and their family for sharing their experience with all of us. Be sure to follow them on Instagram, @veganfamman, and on Facebook VeganFamMan for more great tips and recipes!