Hello, I am new to this forum but I really feel that I need to reach out for some help with making a vegan lifestyle work for myself and my family. My family consists of my husband and my young daughter (2 years old). My husband and I chose to switch to a vegan lifestyle in early December, mainly to help my husband get a good handle on his weight and the various subsequent health risks that happen when a person is overweight. I personally have always had a mind to vegetarianism (due to animal rights in the food industry concerns) and have intolerance to dairy, so vegan didn't seem too far a jump.
The reason I have not switched to vegetarianism or veganism before in my life, is because I have a very fast metabolism. I have been 'underweight' my entire life and have problems with regular occurring iron deficiency. Before becoming vegan I controlled my metabolic needs by eating a healthy and balanced (reduced meat) diet at home (to be a good example for my daughter and husband) and then, when out of the house, eating meat and fat filled fast food and junk food (candy and pop mostly) to fulfill the rest of my caloric requirements. With this diet I STILL have always been underweight, and often go into low blood sugar mood swings if I don't get the calories I need. I was told, by my family doctor, when I was younger that I could not consider becoming vegetarian (let alone vegan) because I required high levels of protein in order to maintain the correct caloric intake (queue being force-fed protein powder my entire youth). So that's me.
My husband, since he switched from a super active warehouse job to a deskjob and hit his metabolic transition from youth to adult, has struggled with his weight. I do not support dieting as I feel they are a temporary solution to an underlying problem. Over our years together I have realized that part of the food issues he has have been a definitive part of his upbringing and family dynamic. It has taken the two of us quite awhile to re-train his body to actually 'sense' when his stomach is full.
My daughter is great, she has a very wide palate and is willing to eat so many different foods it amazes everyone she meets. While she enjoys meat and will probably want to eat it at some point with her friends she doesn't seem to have the 'white bread and cheese' syndrome some toddlers have. That being said it is very important to me that my daughter is brought up with balanced nutrition for her developing body.
On top of our individual needs our family also has been tested for various food allergies. Navigating a vegan menu around these allergies has become quite tedious and frustrating for me. The family allergies are milk protein (not just intolerant, my daughter is actually allergic), egg whites (those two are easy to eliminate), peanuts, tree nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, filberts/hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts), and soy (in ANY form, even the little soy oil they use in almost ANY processed food). Due to other health concerns tomatoes and potatoes must be reduced and/or eliminated during certain times of the year.
Because I am trying to balance all of the above considerations I have found this switch to veganism more and more difficult. The lack of readily available "easy to prepare" options have reduced our regular menu items to bean burritos, Amy's vegan soups, and pasta with tomato sauce. Between meals is really hard for us too, as we don't ever seem to have good and easily procured snack options that help ease the 'low blood sugar crankiness'.
Do any of you have any advice on how to make this all work? I have tried finding various recipes and trying them out, but I don't have the time to test brand new recipes with brand new ingredients every day, sometimes twice a day. What I would really like to find is a good set of 15 yummy recipes that will provide good nutrition, not take more than an hour to prepare, don't require a million exotic ingredients, and avoid all of our various allergies; that I could use on a regular rotation just to get this vegan thing going.