The onslaught of food preference titles can be overwhelming. I remember when I became vegetarian a few years ago and found out there were different kinds of vegetarians. When I became vegan, it was filled with even more subgenres types.
In the last 2 years, the various definitions have become so overpowering that at times I avoid self-labeling. What I thought veganism was was not often what another vegan defined it as. The language can be both a barrier and a conversation starter, but oftentimes it formulates preconceived notions.
It's important to label yourself or the world will surely impose its labels and definitions right along with it. Still, it can be a challenge to figure out where you are in relation to where you've been and where you see the future of your food-based health.
Eating falls on a spectrum. We've seen plenty of people go from carnivore to vegan and back. We've seen vegetarians turn pescetarian for life. The options throughout one's life can vary from one end to the other, especially as we learn more about food. I primarily consumed animal products and processed foods for nearly 3 decades.
As for me today, I often say I'm a whole foods, plant-based vegan. However, I don't always eat whole foods. Sometimes I eat processed vegan food. I'm not sure I can say I'm fully animal-free because I eat out at restaurants. I'm positive cross-contamination often occurs. What I can say definitively is I most often choose whole plant foods at the market and store to cook, but when I eat out, it's tough to justify a $15 salad when I can make one at home for $5. Instead, I'll choose something I wouldn't usually make like loaded up vegan nachos or pizza.
What Does My Family Eat?
The popularization of veganism has made the "what do you eat?" question nearly obsolete. Just about everything with meat has a plant-based sister or brother.
Recently I made bacon from banana peels, yes, you heard right!, and I was and still am a little shocked I tried it and it was very good. I also made hotdogs from carrots. The texture and odor, yet again, made me question what I knew about taste.
If you're looking for vegan food inspiration that's not a hassle to make (or to find the ingredients), check out our family Instagram.
My Son the Plants Eater
Despite all these new and fun ways to eat more plants, getting kids to eat more whole plants is still a challenge for many parents. The earlier fruits and veggies are introduced, the better.
At 16 months old, I don't have to do anything to get my son to eat fruits and veggies. If I have it, he wants it! His first foods were grapes, berries, oranges, pineapples, and bananas via food feeder pacifier, or in juice form. Silicone bibs are great in the beginning while bandana bibs are both cool and useful as your baby ages.
These days he starts his morning with a banana or papaya (he loves it as a smoothie, too) and he'll let me know if I'm slacking! He loves fruit smoothies, avocado, peanut butter with banana, tomatoes, carrots, and to my surprise, chewing on the stem of kale. He'll occasionally go for potatoes, chickpeas, lentils, beans, spaghetti, and granola, but he'll always prefer the tomatoes and avocados we pair with almost every meal. Often I have to prepare more because once he sees me with any of his favorites, he asks for some.
It doesn't matter what the label is, as long as you are feeding yourself and your family to the best of your abilities in a healthy way. It is a challenge to figure out what is the best food to eat when there are so many factors involved and so much ever-changing information.
Truly the best expert in what you need to eat is yourself. You've been living in your body for decades and you know what works for you. Because of genetics, you have a head start in understanding what will work best for your child. My husband's arthritis only acts up when he consumes too much rice, starches, and salt Thus we know not to give our son too much starch or it will build up to become arthritis.
There is some high blood pressure in my family and so I stay away from blood pressure elevating foods, and I do the same for my son. If you can start your child off early, you give them a good foundation. There are still things I eat that I don't want my son to see, but I no longer hide. I'm not trying to be a perfect parent, so I've started to explain the elements of food and what it can do to a person. I'm just trying to show him that even if you have a problem with eating a certain food, you can still balance it out.
Happy whole plant foods eating!
Parenting is awesome. Sleep is overrated. Every day is an adventure.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Nadia Rumbolt
Nadia Rumbolt is a mom of many trades, including creative writing, blogging, van life, minimalism, veganism, the beach, nature, and the occult.