I’ll never forget the time we told Grandma that we couldn’t eat her food anymore. It was 33 years ago, and my mom, sister, and I were new vegans.

We used to have Sunday dinners at my grandmother’s apartment and she was the best. cook. ever. We lived for Grandma’s fried chicken, homemade biscuits, macaroni and cheese, pound cake and apple pie.

But when we went vegan, we had to break the news to Grandma (my dad’s mom) that we couldn’t eat her food anymore. When we told her, she looked at us indignantly and said “Oh, ya’ll done got sanctified!” Then she turned to my mother in disbelief. “And Mary, you done joined em!”

Since cooking was one of the ways Grandma showed her love — as many grandmothers do — she was not happy about this turn of events at all.

Well, it took a few years, but Grandma finally softened up. One day, out of the blue, she called me and said she wanted to make me an apple pie. I nearly dropped the phone. Grandma’s apple pies were legendary and I truly missed them. But since she used dairy products, I couldn’t eat them anymore.

But on this day, Grandma asked me to go get all my ingredients and bring them over. That I did, along with some vegan ice cream, and we spent the afternoon together in her kitchen while she made me a vegan, whole wheat crust, organic apple pie from scratch. When I finally got to taste it, I realized that Grandma had substituted the same amount of maple syrup for white table sugar, so the pie was way too sweet. But I just smiled and said it was delicious. It’s one of my sweetest memories!

That afternoon with my grandma 30 years ago let me know that food could still bring us together. That our food traditions could include veganizing family favorites and that our bonds of love and family could still be nourished and cherished.

In fact, when my mom went down south to visit her older sisters during those early vegan years, they just took her greens out of the pot before they added the meat, and kept it moving.

So I share this with you to say don’t let the fear of losing family food traditions and bonds hold you back from going vegan. Your relatives just might surprise you!

Food traditions are always evolving, anyway, as new generations put their twists on family recipes.

And as more and more people go vegan to live longer, healthier lives, the health legacies of entire families can change for the better. You just might be that spark for your family. 😉


Much Love,

  1. Aida Jones-Goins says:

    Excellent story and encouragement!

  2. Midge Constantino says:

    What a great story, Tracye. Thank you for sharing! I’ve been vegan for 10 years and I’m the only vegan in my family. I’m Filipino and most of our traditional dishes are meat-heavy, and it was hard in the beginning to explain why I was no longer partaking of these foods at family gatherings. I began sharing (not necessarily Filipino) vegan food. Some were instant hits with my non-vegan family, some were duds but I kept trying. Then my sister started having vegan food for me at parties at her home, which I really appreciated. My mom too started making pancit (traditional Filipino noodle dish) for me. She would make the noodles and veggies first, put some aside for me, then add in the rest of the traditional ingredients. She even stopped using fish sauce!

    I remember you did a Twitter Q&A years ago and I asked for your suggestion on how to navigate the family aspect. I was vegetarian at the time, but was on the verge of transitioning to being vegan. I remember you said to share vegan food with my family. That inspired me to take the leap! But I really should try bringing more veganized Filipino to parties :).

  3. Carolyn Blakeney says:

    Tracye I will continue to try. But after 27 plus years my leaving behind the animal products has not had the slightest influence on my family’s eating habits. Not even a whisper! But I continue to advocate as I believe the younger generation is our greatest hope, and I am tired of losing family members in their prime to preventable disease.

  4. Jordan Garcia says:

    This was such a sweet post! So relatable. Food really does bring us all together. I’ve been vegan for nearly 8 years. Two Thanksgivings ago, my grandma vegan 7 layer dip with homemade cashew sour cream, a whole hummus platter, and more. It was SO meaningful to me!! Anyways – beautiful story!

  5. Debe Davis says:

    I remember when I told my grandma as I was raised by my mom and dad’s mothers. She cooked the best ever homemade roles and coconut cakes and coconut cream pies and chocolate chip cookies . She at first didn’t believe I would stick with it and then she tried to cook things for me , She too showed her love through her food.

  6. Dan says:

    So nice to see that a family can change to a vegan menu and keep the cooking together traditions.

  7. Joyce Gordon says:

    I so related to this story which is why I know my daughter (who is vegan) shared it with me.
    And I loved how grandmother made the substitute 😍. Fortunately, my daughter has inspired this granny “foodie” to also commit to this lifestyle. My husband and I (80 and 82) have been eating vegan for 2.5 weeks now and we are enjoying the new tastes, not missing anything, and I get to continue my passion of cooking. Thank you for the story. I’ve also read your book and passing it on to my niece.

    • Tracye McQuirter says:

      Hey, Joyce. That’s fabulous! Good for you and your family! I love to hear it. Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

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