E.M. Uzoamaka's tofu scramble with toast and banana slices on the side

Family Health

My Income Is Already Stretched, But A Plant-Based Diet Is Still My Family’s Priority

Apr 20, 2022

I’ve been practicing healthy eating for years, and it’s important for me to pass that on to my children. So, when I made the switch to a fully plant-based lifestyle, I had to take into consideration the nutritional needs of my children. That means planning and creating meals I know they’ll enjoy, while still making sure they get all the benefits they need from their food.

Looking back, there were days I truly felt I was denying my girls the protein and vitamins they needed because I had opted out of our morning ritual of eggs and bacon or milk and cereal. Instead, it was homemade chia seed pancakes, broccoli patties wrapped in flatbread, banana flaxseed muffins or ginger-infused oatmeal porridge with dry cranberries.

Through research, I came to learn that some of the meals I was now serving my children can provide the same nutrients as eggs and dairy. Options like almond milk and brazil nuts added to their calcium intake, while chia seeds, tofu, lentils and other beans provided them with protein. Knowing the benefits of eating these foods helped put my mind at ease and see that they were still getting what they needed.

E.M. Uzoamaka has gone from island girl to a 650-square-foot apartment in Toronto. Here's how she makes it work for her and her kids.

Making Plant-Based Work For Their Health And Beyond

Now when I shop, my choices at the grocery store are made with what is most nutrient-dense in mind. For me, part of parenting this way is because of my already stretched income.

"With racial segregation and food deserts, I am keenly aware as a Black woman of how susceptible my family is to have healthy options be virtually non-existent."

I feel like I can’t afford to feed my children foods with dyes and artificial sweeteners that may make them sick and put us in a position where we could need medical assistance. I do it not only for the health of my children, but also for reasons of time and money.

Also, with racial segregation and food deserts, I am keenly aware as a Black woman of how susceptible my family is to have healthy options be virtually non-existent. So, one of my solutions is my focus on a highly nutritious plant-based diet. We eat as healthy as we can, whenever possible, to try and lessen the risk of obesity and other illnesses, which are more prevalent in my community.

With rising gas prices and food costs, I’m finding I’m in a unique position to teach my children the importance of eating smaller nutrient-packed meals that can provide the nourishment needed throughout the day. I am also blessed to be a member of a local gardening club where we plant vegetables and other food crops. Thanks to this community project, I have fresh produce I can dehydrate and store away for colder months and rainy days. I also regrow my onions, celery and cabbage when possible.

Looking for a new slow cooker recipe? Try this veggie-packed vegan curry stew.

It's Been Challenging, But Worth It For Us

As a parent, there are always daily challenges and I’ve added a couple more — like explaining why we don’t eat anything with animal by-products, but why we should still respect someone else’s choice to do such. Yet, there have also been many wins that I’m proud of.

"I still make the best egg scramble (which is actually tofu) on toast, and I no longer feel like I’m denying my children anything."

The fact that I’m able to provide my children with the building blocks of a lifestyle that will hopefully set them up to create their own nutrition-focused legacy is huge for me. Teaching them to have compassion for other non-human beings, and to be grateful to Mother Earth for the food she provides is a plus.

But my biggest win is watching us use food to regain our health, both physically and emotionally. In the experiences I’ve had pursuing a plant-based diet, I’ve also seen how it can connect communities.

These days, on weekends when she is allowed to help with breakfast, my daughter still sees me as the eggxpert. I still make the best egg scramble (which is actually tofu) on toast, and I no longer feel like I’m denying my children anything. In fact, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My goal is to give my girls the best chance to live a healthy, productive life and I’m choosing to do that by starting them off plant-based.

Article Author E.M. Uzoamaka
E.M. Uzoamaka

E.M. Uzoamaka is a three-time published Barbadian Canadian author, entrepreneur, parenting and lifestyle expert and well-being facilitator. As a vegan enthusiast, she sits on the Queen Victoria Black Student Success Committee as their food and well-being coordinator; she along with the group are the recipients of the Urban Alliance 2021 Racial Justice education award. When she isn’t facilitating, she can be found on Instagram @chic_coffeedence_vegan sharing healthy family-friendly meals and treats.

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