“Now that we are much more conscious and aware, we have never felt happier and healthier“
This month we are featuring a vegan family! Located in California, both parents and their two children made the decision switch to a vegan lifestyle. We found this caring and compassionate family through social media and couldn’t wait to learn more about them. Whitney, Lance, Brayden (age 5), and Weston (age 4) were kind enough to answer all of our questions about veganism, parenting, and what their favorite foods are.
Q: How long have you been vegan?
Q: What made you decide to become vegan?
We had always wanted to live a healthier lifestyle after our son (who is now 4) was born with congenital heart disease, having to undergo 3 surgeries in the first few months of his life. Throughout our whole experience, we never were educated once about diet changes or foods to avoid for long-term heart health. Almost 3 years ago, we moved to Central Valley, Ca, where we are surrounded by dairy and farm land. We started watching documentaries and doing research on the negative effects of animal products. We cut out red meat first, then dairy, and lastly fish. It took around 2 months or so of transitioning until our family of 4 went completely vegan.
Q: Was it hard to make the change?
We had both been on the same page of course when it came to wanting to ensure our son and our family never has to go through what we did again, so after we moved here, we made the connection with the animals and researched what the animal products do to our bodies. Now that we are much more conscious and aware, we have never felt happier and healthier knowing we are no longer participating in unnecessary animal cruelty.
Q: Are other parents inspired by you raising your children vegan, or are they less accepting of your lifestyle?
We each have had both negative and positive responses when people first find out. However, once we explain our reasons, they become accepting of our choice and want to actually learn more. They recognize our children are thriving and happy as vegans.
Q: Is it easy to find lots of options in your area? (Everyday grocery shopping, restaurants, etc.)
We only have 1 big local grocery store that has limited vegan options, so we usually have to drive about 45 minutes for any health food stores such as Lassen’s, Whole Foods, Sprouts, etc. This can be inconvenient, so we end up doing big hauls at a time and planning ahead. Same goes for restaurants. Where we live, it is a very small town with almost no vegan options, so we head to bigger cities to eat out. We do also pick up a weekly CSA fresh produce box more locally.
Q: Do you cook at home more or eat out?
I definitely cook at home more now that we are vegan, mostly because I prefer to make it the way we want it with our own vegan substitutes. Luckily most restaurants these days carry 1 or 2 options that are already vegan or can be made vegan, and we usually find they are more than happy to accommodate.
Q: Favorite restaurant?
We just fell in love with a new sushi place offering so many delicious vegan/vegetarian options, called BluFin. Sushi was always a favorite for both of us. We also love going to VeggieGrill for food our whole family enjoys.
Q: What is your go-to meal to cook for dinner?
I have a few, but usually veggie/bean burgers, tacos or StarLite taquitos, and pasta.
Q: Top 5 ingredients/foods you always have in your kitchen?
-Plant-based milk because we use it for smoothies, cereal, pancakes, baking, etc.
-Nutritional yeast because you can literally put it on anything for a cheesy flavoring.
-Tomatoes. For burgers, sandwiches, pasta, salsa, etc.
–Potatoes because they are so versatile and filling!
-Fresh Garlic/Onion. I love cooking it in the pan together before I add whatever veggies/meat-substitutes to the pan.
Q: What is the best snack to bring for kids? Best snacks for parents?
My kids are always asking for pita chips and hummus, which we love as well. I make homemade salsa a lot with tomatoes and peppers from our garden. If we are traveling, I always bring along some energy bars and fruit snacks.
Q:What are some struggles/challenges you have encountered and how did you overcome them?
The biggest struggle would have to be finding places to eat when we are in unfamiliar areas to make sure they have vegan options. We have learned it’s smartest to plan ahead and look up restaurant menus beforehand. It can also be a painful reminder having to watch our family/friends still continue to consume animal products that are harmful to their health and the animals, but we are learning to accept that people have to want to make this lifestyle change for themselves.
Q: Is there a non-vegan ingredient or food that you miss and wish was available?
Lance: I love vegan sushi, but wonder if somewhere they have a vegan sashimi yet.
Whitney: Wine is something that I don’t buy often, but it can be frustrating when 9 times out of 10 times I google a wine it’s never vegan.
Questions for the kids
Weston, 4: Pancakes, Vegan hot dogs, Vegan pizza, and chips & salsa.
Q: Do your friends (at school) ever want to try your foods? What do they think of them?
Brayden, 5: Yeah. I share my teddy bear cookies. They say it’s yummy.
Q: What is your favorite animal?
Brayden, 5: Ostrich.
Weston, 4: Sea turtle!
Q: Can you explain what vegan means/What it means to you?
Brayden, 5: That we’re healthy. We have to be vegan, or else if we eat meat, we can’t live long. And if we don’t eat meat, we can live long.
Weston, 4: It means we don’t ever eat animals in the world. We don’t ever kill anything. It means I eat Vegan stuff.
Thank you all for answering our questions we really enjoyed getting to know you better. To get a glimpse of daily life and what they might be eating, follow Whitney and Lance on Instagram: @vegan_fam_ and @plant_eating_people!