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Living With a Strict Vegan: The Do's and Don'ts

Updated on April 25, 2012
This is a photo of my daughter with Nick Jonas of The Jonas Brothers.
This is a photo of my daughter with Nick Jonas of The Jonas Brothers.

Surviving Life With a Strict Vegan

My 16 year old daughter has been a strict vegan for some time now. She started as a vegetarian in middle school. I think everyone that loves animals goes through that phase at some time in their life. I went vegetarian for a little while, but it was difficult to stick with. I was brought up in a Hispanic household. You didn't eat a meal without meat, chicken or fish. However, my daughter is very discplined, so I learned more about her lifestyle choice. How else was I going to make sure she stayed healthy? She is one of seven-six are still at home. How do I survive mealtime? I learned how to cook in steps. I'll explain what I mean by this later in the article.

The Strict Vegan: The Don'ts

  • Let me start by explaining that my daughter is a strict vegan. What do I mean? She doesn't eat any animal byproducts, honey or gelatin.
  • She doesn't wear or use leather, suede or wool either. Let me tell you how crazy this is. I love leather coats and boots. I own them in many styles, colors and lengths. It's a little crazy for her, I'm sure. Why? Well, I've adjusted to her eating habits. That's where it ends. I'm not getting rid of my coats and boots.
  • One more thing, our kitchen chairs, computer chairs and sectionals are ALL LEATHER. So, she drags a patio chair off the deck every time she wants to sit down. Picture that?!
  • I think I don't have to mention this, but just in case.. No drinking or smoking.
  • She does not take medications unless she absolutely has to. She won't even take tylenol. If she had to take an antibiotic, she would. That's common sense..

Vegan Diet Essentials: The Do's

  • Beverages: Obviously, my daughter doesn't drink cow's milk. I buy her Almond Milk, unsweetened. She also drinks water and organic teas.
  • Grains: Everyone in the house now eats whole wheat bread. The waffles I buy for her are made by Van's. She has to have special pancake mix that doesn't have dairy products in the ingredients.
  • Beans
  • Tofu
  • Boca Chicken Burgers: They are made with tofu.
  • Peanut Butter: She had to stop eating it this week. It's been giving her severe stomach pains.
  • Vegetables: When I'm buying fresh vegetables, they are organic. It doesn't matter when they are frozen.
  • Fruits: Lots of fruits
  • Pasta: I always have to read the label because for some reason some brands add dairy products to the pasta.
  • Rice: She wants to eat brown rice, but I only buy white rice. No one else eats it and I don't cook it. So that's that.
  • Snacks: She eats Goya crackers and vegan cookies. She also created a recipe for a vegan apple crisp. It's delicious.

How I Cook for 1 Vegan and 5 Other Kids That Aren't!

At first I figured it would be easier to just cook vegan for everyone. My older sons don't eat much meat anyway. So, I bought the vegan butter, vegan cheese, tofu, etc. I followed a recipe I found on the internet to make a ziti type dish. I was sick for 36 hours. That was the end of my experimentation with veganism. That's when I started cooking in steps. Here's what I mean. When I begin to cook a dish, I make sure I don't add anything that she can't eat. Here's an example. Let's say I'm making Bazed Ziti. I would boil the pasta, add the sauce, seasonings and then separate her portion. Then I bake her ziti in a separate small pan. Next I add the meat and bake the rest for the other kids. This is how I cook everyday. She also cooks for herself. (They need to be independent. I'm not going to be around forever, you know?)

Does she take vitamins or supplements in her vegan diet?

Of course. However, I have to buy them in a vegan friendly, organic store. Why? When I went to the supermarket and Rite Aid I found a little surprise. Most vitamins and supplements contain gelatin. She's been free of meat for so long that her body would react violently to any type of animal by-product. How do I know? My cousin has been a vegetarian for close to 40 years. He had a couple of cookies at my home and got flu symptoms. He asked me to read the contents. The cookies contained animal fat. That's what happens..

The most difficult part of her vegan lifestyle is visiting family. Like I mentioned before, we come from a Hispanic background. They can't understand why anyone would choose not to eat meat and they often criticize her choice. They try to get her to eat meat. (I'm always afraid someone from her Dad's side will try to slip her some bacon bits or something.) The other challenge was going out to eat. She doesn't eat any fast food (animal cruelty) so that's not much of a problem. If we are out, we stop at Subway. She has a veggie delite sandwich. If we have Chinese, she has tofu with brown rice. At restaurants, she usually orders salads, eggplant dishes free of dairy products (no butter or cheese). Sounds complicated, but you get used to it after awhile.

How or why do I deal with this? I have always taught my children to think for themselves and not conform to the crowd. It's worked for my daughter so far. She is president of over 5 clubs at school. Rebekah Vegan (her blog's title)  is Lieutenant Governor of Key Club in NY and is in the running for several leadership scholarships. Her vegan lifestyle shouldn't be that shocking to those that know her. She's a strong willed driven young woman. Veganism is a natural choice for someone like her. She loves animals, the environment and leads a very humble lifestyle. Her goal is to become a research scientist in the EPA to find renewable sources to fuel our planet. See, being a vegan fits right in her big picture...

A few vegan dishes we like to cook and eat:

  • soup made with sofrito, noodles, beans and veggies 
  • eggplant with pasta and veggies
  • rice and beans w/ potatoes and veggies
  • spinach, pasta, spanish seasonings
  • oatmeal with peanut butter (she likes me, I won't even taste it)
  • crackers or organic nachos with salsa (homemade or store bought)
  • tacos minus the meat
  • avocado spread on crackers, bagels and even bread
  • baked potato stuffed with veggies


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    • profile image

      The vegan daughter is certainly the healthiest 

      5 years ago

      Lots of studies are being done indicating that animal protein is the hidden, underlying cause of lots of degenerative illnesses, like cancer and heart diseases, arteriosclerosis, and other terrible things. Your daughter is probably doing it for different reasons. However, the sad part is that not everybody in the family has adopted the system. You need to forget that food is a source of “pleasure” and accept it as a source of well being.

    • supermom_in_ny profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from NY

      @Shivbro Thank you. ;)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Your daughter is amazing.

    • profile image


      6 years ago


      And thank you for your article.

      One thing I do not understand. I have lived for 20yrs in my family dairy farm. My diet was milk, meat and pasta and other veggies. When I became vegetarian I didn't even feel I was changing anything. I mean, how difficult was it? How difficult is to cook the very same way but changing one or two ingredients?

      When I became vegan I felt a tiny bit more the challenge (milk had played a great part in my diet). Yet, I immediately found almond milk which is far, far tastier than cows milk..especially with dates and goji.

      People say they could not give up this or that. Yet, when I cook for the very same people and do not mention anything about veganism they are very pleased and some even call me a liar when I mention there are no animal products in it. I have to cook it again and show them!!!

      Some years ago my friend used my vegan lasagne at her omnivore party. Meat dishes were readily available but my vegan lasagne was all gone!! No vegan at the party that I know of.

      If people stopped to mentally masturbating themselves with whatever they may miss and start realizing what they gain, apart from health, they could just enjoy life so more.

      As a heavy meat and dairy eater (past), I can say that I've never enjoyed eating as much as when I discovered vegan Indian, Italian, Ethiopian and so forth recipes. I mean, I would not give up my artichoke lasagne for the best steak in the world!!

      Some recipe website for you:

      I understand that change sometimes needs some effort. But that's where the challenge end because after you discover that there is sooo much more than meat, dairy, leather and so fort.

      As last note, instead of worrying about your daughter health (ie. supplements are not good) I would be worried about yours and your other children. A huge amount of non-industry-funded scientific research have been carried out which clearly demonstrated the health benefits of leaving out animal products from our diets.

      Otherwise, thank you for supporting your daughter and wish you both very good luck.



    • supermom_in_ny profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from NY

      @chipped teacup You are welcome! Hope this info helps your mom with the basics of veganism. You have a lot in common with my daughter. She is majoring in environmental engineering. She just got back from interning with You can check out her blog to learn more about veganism. ;)

    • chipped teacup profile image


      6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thank you for publishing this hub! I am a vegetarian making the transition to veganism. This information was great for me and I will pass it on to my mom!

    • Easyword profile image


      6 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

      What a great Mom! Although my mom is great too, she still thinks my veganism is just a phase and tries to get me to eat meat. She even gave me rice that had been cooked in chicken broth once! She just didn't think about it. It's good to see someone who is so considerate of their daughter. And if she ever wants any recipes, have her hop on over to my hub!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hi, i really like your daughters attitude. I'm 18 and i'm vegetarian for a little over a year. And i got from it were only benefits. My mother was the one who encouraged me and my sister to stop eating meat. i lost weight, i started to feel the taste of every dish, i got healthier and more good looking i'm always full of energy. At this point i'm going to become full vegan soon. So yay for that! this is how it's supposed to be. I understand that it might be hard in the beggining but as i said it's worth it. My dad to this day still eats meat because it's too hard for him, my grandparents won't even hear of it. They are old-fashioned and for them "without meat you'll be weak, and die" attitude. Thanks again for your post i enjoyed reading it. :)

    • StarCreate profile image


      7 years ago from Spain

      What a wonderful tolerant, respectful and supportive Mom you are! So many young people go through this period of working out their relationships with food, and the world - so often it gets dismissed and disregarded, when they are at their most vulnerable. I think it's fantastic that you accommodate her choices and help her eat healthily with the family, good for you!

    • mannyrolando profile image


      8 years ago

      I enjoyed reading this... I became a vegetarian 4 months ago and dream of someday being able to become a vegan, at this point in my life I am not ready or disciplined enough! I am also hispanic and receive endless criticism for my eating choices, specially from my brothers! It's great to hear that you support your daughter the way that you do!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Your daughter is so fortunate to have your support! My husband and I are both vegan. My mother is just now starting to accept this fact and I am 32.

      I am curious as to whether the peanut butter that is giving her stomach pains is natural (just ground peanuts). I switched from the mainstream peanut butter to the natural variety a number of years ago as all of the hydrogenated oil in the other stuff was very rough on my system.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I was born in a Hare Krishna vegetarian family. I'm as close to vegan as can be without entirely being one. . .but this article has inspired me to take that extra step. very proud of your daughter that at such a young age she's made such a mature decision. :)

    • rotl profile image


      8 years ago from Florida

      It is awesome that your daughter made such a tough choice at a young age. Kudos to you for supporting her. Vegans are cool.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I became vegan at 14 and am now 26. I love hearing that you're supportive of your daughter and help her get her proper nutrition and vary her diet. It took my parents a couple of years to really get used to it.

    • bridgetriley profile image


      8 years ago from San Francisco

      Very interesting to hear your unique viewpoint on the subject! Usually you're only hearing from the vegans or the vegan-haters, not the mommas in the middle.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I just converted to veganism and I found your blog in search of more info on the subject. I noticed you wrote your daughter will only eat brown rice but you buy white. Costco (if you have one near you) sells frozen, microwave ready brown rice. It's ready in 3 minutes and it is very tasty. Maybe you could buy that for her when you are making white rice for the rest of the family. Lovely writing by the way. Sounds like you have a nice family and a great daughter.

    • Sean Leong profile image

      Sean Leong 

      9 years ago from Malaysia


      I believe so. I wish I could have a daughter like yours.

    • supermom_in_ny profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from NY

      Sean Leong:

      Thanks! It is very unusual that my daughter has chosen this as a lifestyle choice. It is very difficult to adhere to, but she does it without a problem...

      She's unique and extremely disciplined.


    • Sean Leong profile image

      Sean Leong 

      9 years ago from Malaysia

      Hi Supermom,

      I enjoy reading this article.

      It's interesting to know that your daughter is a 100 % vegan in view of the fact that few Americans are vegetarians.

      I am not a vegan but I avoid eating red meats if I have a choice and I don't take dairy products.




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