Published by Ashley Palmer.

The following is an interview with Carissa Leventis-Cox of Mama in the Kitchen, and she ain’t cookin’!

Finding and creating balance is difficult when a health-conscious family wants to interact and be a part of a community obsessed with fast foods, animal products, and processed junk foods. I recently have met quite a few vegan and vegetarian women who are married to men who love meat and processed foods. The women joke that their hubbies eat these “on the side.” But when kids come along, the dynamics of your family drastically change.

I’ll admit it: Sometimes I want to quit and give up on days when my efforts are not appreciated or fail on the home front. Sometimes I imagine giving my family the typical SAD (standard American diet) foods that they would love to get their hands on. Wouldn’t I be more popular around here at meal times?! Wouldn’t I have so much more time on my hands?!

But then I think of why I do what I do in the first place, and I look at how far we’ve come. Five years ago, I used to buy bags and bottles of processed foods and 14 pounds of animal products a week for my husband alone. Three years ago, my husband and son were sick with a cough or cold every month. This year, my husband has been sick only once and my son just twice. Today, my boys are 50 percent raw vegan; the other 50 percent of their diet is mostly comprised of home-cooked vegan or vegetarian foods!

Sometimes, when I think I’m not making progress … I am! A few months ago, my son announced: “No more salads for me! No more leafy greens! Just smoothies!” Instead of making it a big deal, I served up green smoothies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. One day, I decided to make his former fave, kale salad, for dinner. I was surprised when my son finished a big bowl quickly and quietly and said aloud, to no one in particular: “That was yummy! This is the best salad!” Although, technically, my son is still in his “no salad” stage, he will finish his fave bowl of greens, if I don’t fuss about it.

As for my husband—he really loves his meat. I don’t want to deprive him. Nor do I want the topic of meals and food to be a thorny subject between us, when it should be something to enjoy together. Considering that he used to eat animal products at every meal, it is such a positive change that he now does so just a few times a week.

What does it take to make peace at my dinner table? Perseverance. Balance. Determination. Education. Motivation. Empowerment. Compromise. And knowing that permanent change comes slowly, one step at a time.

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