Homeschooling In the Kitchen Special Diets Subject

Whatever Happened to Herbivores?


What happened to the plain and simple terms of dinosaurs? They were either herbivores (eating only plants), carnivores (eating only meat), or omnivores who had their feet in both worlds!

In recent years I have been exposed to so many terms related to what people eat or don’t eat (or can and can’t eat), that it makes my head spin! When we started homeschooling 6 years ago, I started hearing people talk about being vegan and I was totally lost! I had no idea what they were referring to, although I knew it was food related and it seemed similar to a vegetarian which I was familiar with. As the years have gone on, terms like vegan have become more and more prevalent in our lives. Whether for health, principle, or other reasons, we have come in contact with more and more who are vegetarians, or are vegan.

The following definitions are taken from Wikipedia:

•  vegetarian encompasses the practice of following plant-based diets (fruits, vegetables, etc.), with or without the inclusion of dairy products or eggs, and with the exclusion of meat (red meat, poultry, and seafood)

•  veganism is the practice of eliminating the use of animal products (a term used to describe material taken from the body of a non-human animal. Examples are fat, flesh, blood, milk, eggs)

The main difference between the eating habits of your average person and a vegan person would be that the vegan eats much less meat (really no meat or meat products). Vegetarians eat dairy products and other foods that belong in those categories which still come from animals. This is one of the biggest differences between a vegan and a vegetarian. True vegans do not eat animal products of any sort which also includes the consumption of any animal products like milk, yogurt, butter, and eggs.

It is not uncommon for one to think that vegans and vegetarians are the same. Vegetarians do not eat meat but they will consume animal related products which would mostly be classified as dairy including yogurt, eggs, milk and others. Basically they will still eat the products that do not directly harm animals like meat which is not included in their diet.

Now I am no expert, nor do we choose to use any of these diets, but I thought it might be nice to have a better understanding of some of these terms and what it means in real life. When we have our friends over who are vegetarian or vegan, it is nice to have a small grasp of what their consumption is like and possibly some recipes on hand that we know they can eat.

Which is kind of where I am going to look to all of you reading this.

What are your favorite vegan or vegetarian recipes, reference sites, tips, etc.?

Do you teach your homeschool students about alternative types of eating habits?

Leave a comment and share your wealth of knowledge with me, and others like me who would like to be a little more in the light about this modern strain of herbivores! 🙂

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  • For personal reasons, my husband and I adopted a vegetarian diet for a period of 6 weeks. I found a lot of really great recipes at http://www.allrecipes.com. We have even put several of them into our regular menu rotation becasue we liked them so much!

  • hi heidi! it is great to see this post, and that you would like to know more about feeding your veg friends 🙂 i have been vegetarian almost 20 years, and my kids have been raised that way. my husband became vegan 11 years ago, so i have been cooking and baking vegan since then. i became vegan 5 years ago, and we certainly hear a lot more about it in the press, etc, than we did even a few years ago! you’re right – we don’t use any dairy, meat, or eggs, but we really enjoy all the variety of foods (and baked goods) that we eat. there are so many books, blogs, resources, but i have chosen to include just a few recipe websites. i have found that my local library has many vegan cookbook titles, so you might try that if you are looking for books.

    http://vegweb.com/
    http://www.theppk.com/recipes/
    http://www.everydaydish.tv/
    http://www.juliehasson.com/

    • Oh I can’t believe I forgot PPK. I have a few of Isa’s books, and her Knish Madness and Blueberry coffee cake from Vegan with a Vengeance are the two most requested things from my friends – not a one being vegan! 🙂

      • i am wondering how i have never tried the blueberry coffee cake(or knish madness)! i will definitely plan to make the coffee cake soon – maybe today! 😉

    • Thank you for sharing your favorites with us! I have a few recipes that we have made with our friends that we even enjoyed and I am looking forward to acquiring some new ones!

  • I love this article…thank you so much. My best friend and her kids are dairy (cows milk) intolerant and she has recently got in a kick on being a vegan. I know how to accommodate her most of the time. I have always found it weird to figure out what the difference really is, especially because she is not strictly either. She will eat poultry and seafood on occasion. I love your food pyramid for it as well…I would love to use it to review with my children. We just went over healthy eating habits and this would be a great one to add to our collection on the wall.

  • Great article! We eat a LOT of vegan foods even though we’re an omni family. I was vegetarian, and then mostly vegetarian, simply by preference, for a few years before I moved to Australia. My husband is mostly carnivore, but we’ve come to a good compromise in the 7 years we’ve been together. haha My oldest son was allergic to eggs, and intolerant to dairy, so we sort of naturally gravitated to vegan dishes rather than go the soy substitute way for most things. My youngest has a severe dairy intolerance, and I was dairy free for 2 years until he weaned – again our saving grace: vegan meals. My absolute favourite meals are from FatFreeVegan.com. Especially her Gardener’s Pie! http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2008/05/skillet-gardeners-pie.html

    • i just read that Fat Free Vegan won best vegan food blog in VegNews magazine! i need to check it out! that gardener’s pie sounds good 🙂

  • I don’t so much “teach” the different ways of eating as my children have been raised in a culture that is aware of such. I’ve worked in and around the alternative health industry for much of their lives (in health food stores; owning my own online store which sold only natural, vegan products; most of our friends practice some sort of vegetarian or vegan diet; I own a green aromatherapy cleaning service). My 21 year old was a vegetarian for years. She found out the hard way you can’t “go back”. Going back led to gall-bladder disease. My 13 year old hasn’t consumed animal products since she was 4 (because she has necrophobia).

    So my children are very aware of all the various health choices and diet choices available. I might add to your statement, “will still eat the products that do not directly harm animals” that even gaining milk from a cow causes harm (baby cows must be done away with so that the milk can be given to humans) and vegans also don’t use animal products of ANY sort …like leather car seats. 🙂

  • Our family adopted a plant-based diet nearly a year ago. (Plant-based is closely tied to vegan, though we try to avoid highly processed foods and oils that are animal product-free, such as Oreos.) There are several resources we have found helpful including the Forks Over Knives documentary (free to stream on Netflix) and cookbook (available at http://www.forksoverknives.com), the Engine 2 Diet (book includes recipes) and more recipes available at http://www.engine2diet.com, but my favorite website belongs to a kind-hearted blogger, Lindsay, who runs http://www.happyherbivore.com. Lindsay and the folks from Engine 2 and Forks Over Knives have made our transition to healthier eating much simpler than I could have dreamed, not to mention tastier. My kids now eat things regularly that I’d not heard of a year ago – a huge change from our former burger/chicken nugget/French fry diet. 🙂

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