Ann Gentry shares easy-to-follow tips to help jump start your family on a vegan diet.

By peoplestaff225
Updated June 28, 2011 02:00 PM
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For over 25 years, Ann Gentry has striven to educate others about the importance of a vegan diet.

The mom-of-two (and former personal chef of Danny DeVito) truly believes you are what you eat.

But she also understands how difficult it can be to make fresh meals on a budget or how to get finicky mini eaters to try new dishes.

To give cash- and time-strapped parents a leg up in the kitchen, she addresses these concerns in her new book, Vegan Family Meals: Real Food for Everyone, which features loads of her delicious and easy-to-make vegan recipes.

Just embarking on a vegan diet for your family? Check out Gentry’s tips below:

Don’t over-explain. You don’t have to spell out that it’s vegan. Just offer it as a delicious choice or something new to try. I know ‘new’ with children can be tricky, but it really helps to set the example by eating quality healthy foods in front of and with them.

Variety is key! Always make dishes that are different colors, flavors and textures. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and plant-proteins are by nature colorful and offer many flavorful texture so it’s really easy.

Always serve one consistent dish. I switch between serving a bowl of brown rice or crackers with a bean dip as a fallback dish for picky eaters. Even though they’re plain and simple, they taste great and are just as nutritious and more complicated dishes.

Change things up. The best way to introduce your child to a vegan diet is to tweak the recipes of their fave dishes with healthier ingredients. Some examples include maple sugar or organic cane sugar instead of white sugar, non-dairy cheeses like Daiya instead of cow’s cheese and sea salt instead of table salt.

Get them involved. Whether they set the table or help make the meal, getting kids involved is a great way to make them invested in what they eat. It also helps educate them on healthy choices. Just make sure to make it fun.

Set the example. Showing how much you enjoy eating healthy foods helps guide your kids to better choices later in life.