07 Feb 2020
When you’ve spent years trying (and mostly failing) to convince your kids to eat their greens, it can come as a shock to hear that they want to go vegan. What are you going to feed them? Can they really survive on vegetables alone? What on earth are you supposed to do with jackfruit?
Adapting to your child’s vegetarian or vegan diet can be a challenge, especially if the rest of the family are still eating meat, fish and dairy. Let’s be real, many teens would tuck into a not-so-balanced ‘vegan’ diet of chips, crisps and baked beans if left to their own devices.
That said, it helps that plant-based foods are now widely available; most supermarkets have vegan ranges, and fast food chains like Greggs, KFC and McDonalds all serve vegan-friendly meals. And, with a little bit of planning and preparation, you can soon adjust to meat-free or plant-based meals.
For this piece, we’ve partnered with allplants, a vegan meal delivery service which offers a variety of plant-based dishes that can be cooked from frozen in minutes. If you prefer to cook from scratch, we’ve also partnered with sustainable vegetable delivery service Abel & Cole, who delivers organic veg in returnable, reusable and recyclable packaging… with no plastic in sight.
In 2020, increasing numbers of children, teens and adults are going vegan. Globally, more than 400,000 people signed up for Veganuary 2020 and, according to Google Trends, in 2019, veganism was more popular in the UK than any other country. Research from Veganuary shows that over half (55%) of people who give up meat and dairy do so for health reasons, 49% for concerns about animal welfare, 30% for environmental reasons and 28% as part of Veganuary.
Even if your child or teen hasn’t expressed an interest in becoming vegetarian or vegan, there’s a good chance that they’ve heard about the animal welfare and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet. Dozens of schools across the UK particulate in Meat Free Monday and a 2019 survey by Linda McCartney Foods found that 10% of kids aged 8-16 are already vegetarian or vegan, with an additional 44% trying to eat less meat and dairy.
Switching to a vegan diet (where you eat no animal products, including eggs and dairy) or going vegetarian (where you eat no meat, fish or poultry) is a pretty big adjustment. The answer could be to try a ‘flexitarian’ or ‘vegan-ish’ approach, where you eat a vegetarian or plant-based diet for some of the week. This is also a good compromise if you’re worried your child wouldn’t get all the essential vitamins and minerals they need from a totally plant-based diet.
Alex Petrides, co-founder of allplants, agrees. He says: “With a growing awareness of the positive impact a more plant-based diet can have, millions of people are starting a more, mostly or all-plant lifestyle. You don’t have to go full-time vegan to help our planet thrive.”
This is why Alex introduced the ‘allplants challenge’: an initiative encouraging people to eat only plant-based foods for two days of every week.
He says that by taking on the challenge for a year, we could each save enough water to cover 11 years’ worth of showers. And, if every Brit took part, we’d reduce emissions by the carbon equivalent of taking 54% of cars off the road, or planting 1.1 billion trees. Needless to say, it’s a very achievable way for your family to do their bit to combat climate change.
He adds: “We believe that we don’t need a handful of people being perfectly sustainable; instead we need millions of people doing it imperfectly. We’re backing the flexi.”
Hands up who’s blended veg into pasta sauce, hidden cauliflower in mashed potato or sneaked carrots or courgettes into homemade burgers. Lots of parents rely on these tricks to ensure their kids are getting their five a day. Surprisingly, it works just as well in plant-based meals: allplants sneak sweet potato into their ‘Mac & Greens’ to boost that all-important veg count.
When it comes to cooking healthy vegan meals from scratch, the experts recommend using protein-packed tinned pulses (like beans, lentils and chickpeas) as the basis for tasty stews – and batch cooking to get some quick vegan meals ready for the week ahead.
It also helps to experiment with some new textures and flavours. Abel & Cole vegetable boxes contain a mixture of seasonal fruit and veg that kids might not have tried before, so it’s a great way to introduce more unusual produce like plantain, okra, romanesco cauliflower and kohlrabi. You never know, your kid might turn out to be mad for micro greens or crazy for kale.
Although can’t help when it comes to persuading them to eat Brussels sprouts… that one’s for you to work out.
Sustainably and ethically sourced, Abel & Cole deliver delicious organic veggies to your door, in returnable or recyclable packaging. To get £10 off your first four deliveries, visit abelandcole.co.uk/ add the code GOHENRY at checkout. Offers ends 26/06/2020. T&Cs apply.