Converting the Non-believers

As a follow-up to Deb’s post yesterday, I want to chime in on the positive side effect of this delicious new lifestyle I’m embracing.

While it definitely hurts to see your family and friends living life in an unhealthy manner, it’s sort of exhilarating to realize that you’re having a positive effect on the people around you.

My fella, who is a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, called me the other night on his way home and said, “Hey, I’ve been meat-free all day, let’s keep it going for dinner tonight!”  I’m not saying that being a vegetarian or a vegan is the best way to go (though I will sing the praises of a mostly plant-based whole foods diet all day), but for him, it’s a big step toward being more conscious about what he’s eating and how he feels after eating a certain way. So I’m calling it a success.

We’re both sort of into seasonal eating right now, so we just made a big dish of roasted root veggies with brown rice. A little more starch-heavy than I usually like, but with my smoothies starting the day off right, I feel like I finished the day balanced.

Sweet potatoes, potatoes, squash, and turnips

While we were getting that together for supper, I found a  box of cake mix in my cabinet from…probably 6 months ago.  No joke.

Cake mix, how old are you?

So I decided to make some cookies. Or cupcakes. And not to follow the directions at all.

I didn’t want to add oil or eggs to the mix, so I decided to go the applesauce substitution route.  So I put in the water it called for, 4 oz of unsweetened applesauce, and hoped for the best.  The mix was a little too runny to be cookies, so I slapped it into cupcake pans, and hoped for the best. Here’s what I came up with:

I ate one...they were pretty tasty!

Except, actually, they were a little too sweet, which has to be the actual cake mix. So I might be done with this kind of short cut baking for now.

So we had a meat-free dinner, a healthier dessert alternative, and a fun evening building Legos. Healthy nutritional plan win!

Tell me something exciting that you’ve gotten your significant other or family members to eat that they initially resisted!




  1. I’ve gotten Matthew to eat all sorts of things he never thought he would. 🙂

    But — and I don’t mean this as a criticism of you or Deb — I think you have to be careful not to be obnoxious about it. It’s much like fiction: Show, don’t tell. Offer people tasty food, let them see how great you feel and ask why, don’t shove it down anyone’s throat.

    Not saying you are. Just saying I think that’s a good rule in general. 🙂

    1. Well, part of the point of this post was that it was pretty exciting for me that after watching me eat like this, he took the initiative to go meatless on his own, and then asked to continue it through the evening. Without any kind of pushing from me 🙂

      1. That’s what I’m saying — he saw it doing you good and decided to try it too. Which is the right way to go as far as I’m concerned. 🙂

  2. Erin!! Your blog is totally inspiring to me!! I just discovered it today and I totally want to get on board with your nutritional plan. I’ve been telling myself I need to exercise more and I keep putting it farther down the list of priorities after phd/activism/relaxing. Its NOT okay anymore!

    While I totally see what post above is suggests, I kind of disagree. For me I need to be told how unhealthy most American lifestyles are! Like, Steve and I made Mac and Cheese yesterday with 2 kinds of cheese! And 6 ounces of butter. I am disgusted I want to throw out the leftovers…but I think he’d kill me. It doesn’t help how skinny he is, and how unsustainable his beer-drinking/massive-portion size/cheeseburger eating habits have been and still are for me.

    I convince myself its OK to eat something like Mac and Cheese because I have a few pieces of broccoli with it! Well thats NOT OK.

    I’m going to go shopping this weekend…do you think you could recommend asome of the grains you are substituting for your pastas and breads and other enriched/bleached wheat-based foods? Also, we have been eating veggie mostly so I am worried about trying to reformat my diet without chicken or simple proteins!

    I’ll try to post and let you know how we do after this weekend!

    1. Emily, as someone who has listened to converted vegans go on and on and on (again — not Erin or Deb) … it can get pretty obnoxious. If someone is willing to hear it, great. If not, pushing it will probably not help. That’s all I’m saying.

      1. Yeah, Deb and I definitely subscribe to the Happy Herbivore method of conversion. Eat well, answer questions, and offer samples. No pushing, no lecturing 🙂

  3. Emily, I’m so glad you found the blog! I hope Debbie and I can be of assistance 🙂

    Yeah, it’s definitely challenging when the person you eat most of your meals eats a different way than you want to, but it can be done. Deb and I have both done it! It’s usually a matter of making sure that your meal can be a side to whatever else your partner is eating.

    I definitely encourage taking baby steps; for pasta, start buying whole wheat versions of stuff you already like, or buy veggie pasta (I buy something called Wacky Mac, and also spinach spaghetti noodles). Bread is really hard…you have to read the ingredients very carefully, and I try not to buy bread that has sugar listed in the first couple ingredients. Always whole wheat or whole grain. Deb has gone a step further and eats sprouting bread (find it in your frozen foods section). Honestly, if you can make your own bread, that’s best, but I know that most people don’t have that kind of time. And then for grains, go with brown rice over white, and quinoa over rice. The taste and texture of quinoa takes a little while to get used to, but make sure you rinse really well, and try using veggie stock instead of water when you cook it.

    The protein thing…this is mostly mental. You have to separate that meat=protein thing in your head. You get tons of protein from beans, dark leafy greens, nuts, and quinoa. If you’re already eating mostly veggie, just make sure that you’re including some of these more healthy things into the veg diet. You’ll definitely know if you’re low on protein, and if you’re starting to feel that low, cranky feeling, grab some almonds, make a black bean burrito, or eat some kale.

    I’m so glad to hear from you, and definitely keep us updated in your quest for healthier eating!

    1. Erin summed it up pretty well. I only have a couple things to add. Like Erin said, I buy chicken or meat to add to some of my vegetarian meals for Mike. Sometimes I eat meat too but in smaller portions than I used to. From what I’ve read so far, free range pastured chickens, grass fed beef and fish are the healthiest forms of meat. Do a little research on the local farms that provide to your grocery store or farmers market to see how free range or grass fed the animals really are. I still have to do more research but I think the meat we buy now is healthier (more sustainable and nicer to animals) than it used to be. So I feel good about that. I also switched to free range eggs and although I don’t drink milk anymore I’ll only buy organic and local when possible for Mike.

      There is definitely a cost/value change when shopping this way. I’m lucky enough that Mike indulges our budget in that direction. If you’re buying for two on a tight budget, then you may have to have a couple conversations about this aspect.

      The most important thing is to be kind to yourself (and your partner/roommate/family). Everyone progresses through change differently. You might be the leader of nutritional change in your household, but you can still have buttered or fried food occasionally. If your partner is less than enthusiastic try to change slowly and get him involved in cooking new recipes. He, like Kyle and Mike, will slowly find he likes it when you give him the chance. 🙂

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