My fam­ily and other ve­g­ans

When Juliet Sear’s chil­dren stopped eat­ing meat, chaos en­sued. But be­ing able to adapt had some sur­pris­ing ben­e­fits

Red - - CONTENTS -

Julie Sear on the sur­pris­ing ben­e­fits of ad­just­ing to new eat­ing regimes

Ithought that, once I got through the tod­dler years, my life in the kitchen was go­ing to be pretty easy. Even with three kids it wasn’t that tough – only Ruby, the youngest, went through a just-white-car­bo­hy­drates phase, and she ate a reg­u­lar healthy diet even­tu­ally. But then my tod­dlers turned – seem­ingly sud­denly – into teenagers, with the en­su­ing re­volt a shock. Ge­orge, then 17, re­turned from a trip to Amer­ica a ve­gan. True, it’s no tat­too or de­sire to go on re­al­ity TV, but re­ally? Ve­gan? He used to love cheese. What was I go­ing to cook?

Be­ing the el­dest, his in­flu­ence fil­tered down as he showed the two girls all those an­i­mal cru­elty videos on Youtube. Ly­dia, then 16, went ve­gan and, Ruby, then 15, went veg­gie, “be­cause, Mum, I love cheese”. (I now know this is called Chee­gan. A Veg­gan is a ve­gan who eats eggs.) My hus­band said he was obliv­i­ous to Ge­orge’s videos, still loved steak and wasn’t about to change. I, on the other hand, watched the videos and also be­came veg­gie.

I VALUE THEIR DE­VEL­OP­ING SENSE OF SELF,

but the overnight change was alarm­ing and dis­rup­tive. I could have made them cook for them­selves but I love to feed us as a fam­ily, and I don’t think I could stand the mess they’d make. So I be­came a DJ of di­ets, spin­ning mul­ti­ple pans. To cre­ate a sim­ple pasta I’d need a but­ter-free sauce base, ve­gan Parme­san for two, veg­gie Parme­san for two more and a skil­let of crispy pancetta for the old man. A 15-minute meal turned into an hour. Some­thing had to change.

I started by re­think­ing the way I put fam­ily meals to­gether, go­ing back to ba­sics. If I could get the base right, with some­thing that would sat­isfy every­one,

I could eas­ily pimp a dish at the end to suit them all.

For as a ve­gan doesn’t want to eat an­i­mal prod­ucts so a meat eater doesn’t al­ways want to eat plants.

Piri piri chicken and salad pit­tas, with the chicken swapped out for fried tofu was a good start, then came veg­e­tar­ian shep­herd’s pie with a sep­a­rate ve­gan mash at the end. I was in the groove, knock­ing out mixed roast din­ners, piz­zas and a spicy ra­men that was easy to adapt.

On re­flec­tion, I ac­tu­ally liked the changes Ge­orge caused, en­joy­ing find­ing new ways to cook. It woke me up to what I was feed­ing my fam­ily and I had to ad­mire the chil­dren’s en­ergy to get be­hind their pas­sions. Per­haps we weren’t ter­ri­ble par­ents after all. I’ve got into a new flow now and been made to be cre­ative. You can learn a lot from those around you – your chil­dren, col­leagues, friends – and if you lis­ten to their rea­son­ings, you might even be swayed. Life is a map of al­ter­na­tive routes to travel, and some of them might fea­ture ve­gan cheese.

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