Jessica Seinfeld, whose husband is celebrated comedian Jerry, grew up with her 1960s parents – they loved yoga, bought their food from their local food co-op and fed their daughters brown rice and tofu long before it was “cool” to do so.
While all young Jessica longed for was cereal you could buy off the supermarket shelf, these days, she is a keen health-food devotee, with some exceptions, of course.
Seinfeld, who runs Good+Foundation, a New York-based NFP that aims to dismantle multi-generational poverty, has written five cookbooks, each tackling a different food-related problem.
Her latest, Vegan, at Times: 120+ Recipes for Every Day or Every So Often, shares recipes that are meat, egg and dairy free that she has developed for her own family.
But, for the Seinfelds, being vegan…ish doesn’t mean they have to say goodbye to meat, dairy and eggs for good.
In fact, they still enjoy bagels with smoked salmon and, of course, brisket, kugel and homemade challah – yes, with egg wash. As Jessica said: “I am not willing to give up on that flavour or that colour.”
According to recent research, Australians are starting to embrace a more vegetarian-friendly lifestyle with 42 per cent of people surveyed enjoying at least one meat-free day per week.
According to Vegan Australia, while only about two per cent of Australians classify themselves as vegan, there are almost 2.5 million Australians whose diet is all or almost all vegetarian.
For the Seinfelds, this means aside from Sunday mornings, Shabbats and Jewish holidays, the family is mostly vegan. And key to getting the family on board was starting slowly.
“It’s through desserts that I got my children on board,” Seinfeld said. Their first taste of vegan food was an egg and butter-free banana bread, which Jessica simply left on the kitchen bench for everyone to enjoy.
So, how can you embrace a more vegetarian-friendly diet while still enjoying the foods you love most?
1. Add to your diet
Yep, you read that right. Don’t take foods away. Rather, enrich your diet with vegetarian options like beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and tofu. And incorporate lots of delicious vegetables. It won’t seem so overwhelming to cook meat-free meals if you’re already eating the alternatives.
2. Go at your own pace
You can start off with a meal or if you want, commit to a whole day. Whatever your level is, make changes at your own pace. Many people start by choosing one day each week to have at least one meat-free meal. Others choose meat-free weekdays but allow themselves meat during the weekend. Figure out what’s right for you and commit to it.
3. Don’t worry about protein
Meat, chicken and fish aren’t the only places you get your protein from. In fact, many vitamins and minerals can be found in a vegetarian diet. You just have to know what to eat. Do your research into what meat-alternatives provide you with what you need. Nuts, leafy greens, quinoa and even dried fruits have lots of iron, healthy fats and protein in them.
4. Find a buddy
Starting anything new on your own can be daunting. Just like they say having a workout buddy helps you commit to exercising successfully, the same goes for your eating habits. Swap recipes that you find and keep each other on track.
5. Don’t worry if you slip
Everyone slips up. And it’s okay if you want to purposefully keep one meat meal a week too. At the end of the day, eating vegetarian or vegan meals doesn’t mean you have to swear off meat or fish forever.
As Seinfeld says, “My entire life, I have been having bagels and lox every Sunday. When I married Jerry, we continued that tradition.”
Feel free to be vegetarian or vegan…ish.
With Times of Israel