Today, YOU CAN take a first step towards yummy, easy plant-based meals. Learn the basics, get a day of beginner vegan meals & kid-friendly tips!
We served BBQ at our wedding… then I went vegan 2 years later. You’re not alone, if you’re wondering “how the heck am I gonna actually DO this!”
This page has carefully chosen resources and recipes for your stage of the journey. I’ve walked this path myself, and have joined many others in exploring veg food. If you ever have questions or need ideas, just drop a comment at the bottom of this post and I’ll be in touch!
Beginner Vegan Lingo
Ever wonder what the difference between “vegetarian” and “plant-based” is? Even if you really don’t care (I don’t either), having a rough idea will help you order in a restaurant or find recipes on Pinterest.
- Plant-Based Vegan:
YES: fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, plant-protein
NO: ingredients & meals that are packaged, processed or refined (no white sugar, flour, etc).
YES: plant-based foods, vegan convenience/processed foods like vegan cheese, vegan box mixes / meal starters, pastas, baked goods, etc.
NO: eggs, dairy products (cow’s milk turned into cheese, ice cream, butter, etc) or honey.
YES: plant-based foods, vegan foods, and some or all of: eggs, dairy products, honey.
NO: meat (beef, pork, chicken, etc) or seafood (fish/shellfish)
YES: plant-based foods, vegan foods, vegetarian foods, seafood
- Omnivore: Eats plant-based foods, dairy, meat and seafood.
- Carnivore: my husband who has a literal box of meat delivered to the house each month 😂 JK, he’s actually an omnivore.
Bite-Sized Veg-ucation for Beginner Vegans
Yep. You’ll get plenty of protein, minerals, vitamins and all the good stuff by eating without meat. You can also find restaurant meals, fly on planes, pack kid lunches, make really savory & delicious dinners, get a bomb lunch at Chipotle and be a regular human being.
Let’s start with some bite-sized building blocks: an example of what I eat in a day (psst: there’s no kale), where you can get your protein, and how to make meatless food taste delicious.
One Day of Beginner Vegan Meals
Plant-based and produce-packed shouldn’t mean boring rabbit food. Give these beginner-level meals a try!
Smoothies are an obvious starter veg meal… but don’t be limited to greens. I like freezing carrot and orange juice in ice cube trays, for easy “meal prep”. Chunky Waldorf salad made with chickpeas is delicious, requires no cooking, lasts for several days in the fridge and is perfect to pack for the office. And family-approved fajitas (made on one pan in the oven) is both a crowd-pleaser AND easy to customize for all different tastebuds.
What About My Picky Kids?!
I swear my daughter lived on olives and frozen waffles for a full year straight. I GET IT! The good news is, even if your kids would never give up meat: there are still yummy, kid-approved ways to get some extra veggies & nutrition in their day.
All of my recipes are tested on my own child... and she’s incapable of lying about food. She once spit out a bite of BBQ jackfruit on Facebook live! 😂 That didn’t make the cut for being “kid approved”. Breakfast cookies? Pot pie? Tacos? Classic American lunch boxes? Anything with fruit? If she makes yummy noises and eats it twice, I’m sharing it here.
Beginner Vegan Parent? Here are 5 Tips for Picky Kids
- Repeat Exposure to New Foods & “No Thank You Bites“
Kids bodies and brains are wired a certain way. They feel safe & comforted when their world is the same and things are consistent. It’s why they want to hear the Llama book a thousand times each night. It’s ok. We parents can (and should) help kiddos taste buds grow. I find that it’s simply a matter of repeated exposure to the same food, prepared the same way, over time. In our family, we expect kids to take one bite of everything offered. If they take a bite & don’t like it, they can say “no thank you”. Gradually, the asparagus stops looking like an alien. Maybe they take a second bite, while they’re distracted. Or maybe they just really hate asparagus. I still can’t eat a raw tomato. 🤷🏼♀️
2. Tiny Sous Chefs
Yeah, I know. Kids slow things down. “It’s faster to just do it myself” echoes in my head allllll dayyyy lonnnnng. AND, she’ll never learn if I don’t give her the opportunity to try and try again. The littlest hands can help dump ingredients in a bowl or help stir. For school-aged kiddos, cooking is more than just making dinner. It’s measuring, reading, predicting, planning, and lots of fine motor skill practice. It’s also an awesome chance to do something with our kids that doesn’t involve a screen. And the biggest win: kids are more likely to eat something they helped make. You can try bites of the red bell pepper raw… then try it again after it’s cooked into a bowl of noodle stir fry. Which flavor do they like better?
3. Team No Power Struggles (aka: 1 Dinner + a Backup Plan)
I know, I know. There are times when we have to make a sacrifice in the name of dinnertime peace. But in general, just cook one dinner. Tacos or fajitas are my go to: I can eat them vegetarian, my husband can add leftover meat that he grilled, and my daughter can eat separate piles of beans, salsa and tortillas if she wants. One meal, DIY style. If “no thank you bites” still lead to a kid-refusing-dinner, our response is always the same: “You’re free to make yourself a peanut butter & jelly”. Cereal, microwave mac & cheese cups, and frozen burritos are all equally great backups. Nobody’s gonna die from PB&J. Unless you have a nut allergy. Then use sunbutter. 😉