For us, the decision was easy. We made the switch to a plant-based lifestyle after learning that my wife had ulcerative colitis. The change was something that came to us as soon as we started to read more about how foods were digested in the body and after trying it for a while, we just felt…better. My wife eats food that is easy to digest and keeps her immune system strong and it has worked well for our now three children. Although it has been easy for us, it hasn’t been as simple for our family…mainly the grandparents in our lives.

My wife and I are lucky enough to have both of our parents in our lives. But when we made the switch to a plant-based lifestyle, it was a bit of a shock to our parents, who are now simply known as Grandma and Grandpa on both sides. We used to share many meals together around the table and those times were magical. We would have a meal and talk about our days, laugh, and of course pass whatever was on the table in front of us…all the while nourishing our bodies and minds with great love from the food we ate and the quality time we spent together.

When something as central to life as the  foods we eat is drastically changed, it feels… personal. The switch my wife and I made for our family started off as a journey for health reasons, but has turned into so much more. As we continue to learn more about the environment, the lives of our animal friends, and the proven health benefits of eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains, we develop a greater appreciation for this lifestyle. Yes, the wonderful times centered around a meal that we could all eat have changed, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We love our family and would never judge them or anyone else for the food choices they have made for their family. We simply know what has worked best for us and if anyone wants to know about it, we will be happy to share it with them. Food is food and if someone in your life is having a hard time dealing with your family’s change to a plant-based lifestyle, I hope you will share this post with them.

There are just three simple things that a grandparent should know if and when their family makes a switch to a plant-based diet:

  1. We can still eat together! A good example would be taco night! Just because we don’t put ground beef on our tacos anymore doesn’t mean that we can’t sit at the table together with you. Black beans are a wonderful source of protein and the combination of refried black beans or fresh black beans mixed with fresh tomato, salsa, guacamole, or fresh spinach sounds like a wonderful taco to me! You might not find a meat option at our house, but if we come over for taco night and you have your meat and we have our black beans, we will be all set!
  2. We don’t think we are better than you. Choosing to live a plant-based lifestyle is about our family and our personal decision to try and live as healthfully as possible. We have found something that works well for us and we have talked to our doctor about it…and he approves! We definitely understand that eating this way might not be for everyone and we do not judge you for any food you eat.
  3. We love you. A plant-based lifestyle is a lifestyle that promotes love, inclusion, health, and vitality. We love and appreciate your acceptance as we eat in a way that might not be universally accepted or understood. Please respect our decision to eat a plant-based diet and we will respect your decision to eat however you’d like. If you ever have any questions about how we eat and what we eat, we will be happy to talk to you about it in a calm, understanding way, but please don’t make jokes or make small comments that poke fun about the way we eat. We want to create an environment for ourselves and our kids that is inclusive, welcoming, and positive.

If you have someone in your life who you think would benefit from reading this perspective on a plant-based diet with their family, please share this post with them and let us know how you have dealt with your family members in the past. Do you have any quick tips you can share with us to help create a positive and inclusive environment with your immediate family after making a switch to a plant-based diet? Thank you as always for your time and for reading our blog. You rock!

Cory Warren
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