I Went Vegan to Teach My Kids About the Environment

Once I read about what eating meat does to the environment, I realized going vegan was the right choice for my family.

woman grating beet in kitchen
Photo: Tosha Lobsinger

I’ve always been a good eco-citizen: I bike as much as I can, and my family, even the kids, recycles religiously. But six years ago, when my oldest was a toddler, I read about the impact our eating habits have on the planet and realized we needed to change. Animals raised for food produce tons of methane, a greenhouse gas. On average, Americans and Canadians eat 200-plus pounds of meat per year. At that scale, there’s no way to do it sustainably. I knew I had to cut back drastically.

That was big! I’m French, so meat and cheese are part of my culture. But I thought, “I gotta take one for the team.”

It turned out I loved being vegan. At first, I was vegan at home, vegetarian when going out, and happy to eat anything served to us in someone’s home. My husband loved the food, and our kids weren’t bothered. Our oldest was just 18 months then, so it’s what they’ve always known. (They are now 8 and 4.)

The first vegan cookbook I read was Isa Does It, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. She taught me what I needed to know to make great family meals. My husband didn’t notice for a few weeks that he’d essentially become vegan at home. He didn’t feel deprived by the pasta dishes, chilis, and stir-fries I was cooking. I wasn’t trying to trick anyone; I just wanted to prove that we could do this deliciously. It worked.

Eventually, I went totally vegan, while my husband and kids still eat animal products on occasion. Many in our extended family also eat more plant-based dishes as a result. I take that as a win! What the planet needs is more “imperfect vegans.”

Among our favorite dishes: a Bolognese-style spaghetti sauce (I use roasted tofu crumbs for a satisfying texture) and Indian-inspired red lentil soup. On Saturday mornings, my “whole-everything pancakes” are always a hit—they’re made with oats, pumpkin seeds, and lots of dark-chocolate chips.

Being vegan is far easier than I thought it would be. My number-one tip is to set some simple rules to start, like “Vegan after 6 p.m.” or “Meatless weekends,” and grow from there. Making decisions ahead of time means it’s more likely you’ll stick to your plan when you’re hungry.

This article originally appeared in Parents magazine's April 2020 issue as “Think Big for Your Family.”

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles