Ramoan Gunter talks to Plantbased and discusses the difficulties with eating plant based around family
Family, friends, get togethers — when you’re plant based it can cause problems at the dinner table when you are with some of the most important people in your life.
As someone who converted to a plant based lifestyle relatively recently, being around inquisitive family members is still the norm. I had embarked on a journey which was completely alien to them.
It was seeing the hashtag ‘7DayVeganChallenge’— which kept jumping out at me whilst scrolling through Instagram with my friend — that planted the idea of overhauling my diet firmly in my mind. I decided to take on the challenge despite the lingering worry that I’d come out three stones lighter and protein deficient! It only took 48 hours of plant based eating for me to realise that this wasn’t going to be a short term fad. The food I was eating was surprisingly tasty and filling and my opinion had completely flipped so that I no longer even saw the meals I was eating before as actual food anymore.
Being from a Caribbean background, where some type of cooked animal is traditionally the focal point of every dish, my family didn’t really understand why anyone would want to restrict their diet or deprive themselves of meat. This inevitably led to a variety of questions being fired across the dinner table aimed at me. Luckily, having done my homework and extensive research, I could smugly answer without hesitation.
Usually, the same questions would arise at every gathering — “Are you still not eating meat?”, “Are you still on your diet?” and the classic “Have you lost weight?”. I’d got my default responses at the ready and explained that I was still not eating animals, that I don’t see it as a diet but a lifestyle change, and that yes, I have lost a little weight but that I was no longer so interested in how I looked but instead how amazing I now felt. I’d throw in the odd fact for good measure to back up the decision, not that they really cared all that much.
After getting slightly more comfortable with this new way of cooking, it becomes easier to show off the amazing possibilities of plant based food and allowing everyone to discover it too. It seemed best to start off with the plant based equivalents to dishes that they would be somewhat familiar with. Think ackee (no sailfish), Jamaican curry (hold the goat), red lentil bolognaise, shepherd’s pie and mac and cheese — just to name a few. Needless to say when you feed people great plant based food, the questions soon stop.
Nowadays, every family gathering is a chance to spread the plant based love and the requests come in thick and fast for me to bring along plant based dishes. Sometimes there are even personal food orders too.
Changing perceptions to plant based eating is never going to be easy. There are still a lot of misconceptions about us not being able to eat anything or never being able to eat out at restaurants, but when you show the people around you that eating plant based doesn’t have to mean missing out and more importantly that the food can be as tasty as any other food (if not tastier!), people begin to open their minds.
Check out Ramoan on Instagram @rgveganfood