I’ll never forget the time we told Grandma that we couldn’t eat her food anymore. It was 33 years ago, and my mom, sister, and I were new vegans.
We used to have Sunday dinners at my grandmother’s apartment and she was the best. cook. ever. We lived for Grandma’s fried chicken, homemade biscuits, macaroni and cheese, pound cake and apple pie.
But when we went vegan, we had to break the news to Grandma (my dad’s mom) that we couldn’t eat her food anymore. When we told her, she looked at us indignantly and said “Oh, ya’ll done got sanctified!” Then she turned to my mother in disbelief. “And Mary, you done joined em!”
Since cooking was one of the ways Grandma showed her love — as many grandmothers do — she was not happy about this turn of events at all.
Well, it took a few years, but Grandma finally softened up. One day, out of the blue, she called me and said she wanted to make me an apple pie. I nearly dropped the phone. Grandma’s apple pies were legendary and I truly missed them. But since she used dairy products, I couldn’t eat them anymore.
But on this day, Grandma asked me to go get all my ingredients and bring them over. That I did, along with some vegan ice cream, and we spent the afternoon together in her kitchen while she made me a vegan, whole wheat crust, organic apple pie from scratch. When I finally got to taste it, I realized that Grandma had substituted the same amount of maple syrup for white table sugar, so the pie was way too sweet. But I just smiled and said it was delicious. It’s one of my sweetest memories!
That afternoon with my grandma 30 years ago let me know that food could still bring us together. That our food traditions could include veganizing family favorites and that our bonds of love and family could still be nourished and cherished.
In fact, when my mom went down south to visit her older sisters during those early vegan years, they just took her greens out of the pot before they added the meat, and kept it moving.
So I share this with you to say don’t let the fear of losing family food traditions and bonds hold you back from going vegan. Your relatives just might surprise you!
Food traditions are always evolving, anyway, as new generations put their twists on family recipes.
And as more and more people go vegan to live longer, healthier lives, the health legacies of entire families can change for the better. You just might be that spark for your family.