Starting the Conversation about Plant-based Eating

Having meals around the dining room table is a lost art. But spending the time to prepare a meal and corral the whole family together is most definitely worth the effort.

Richard McCarthy, community development specialist and Meatless Monday culinary ambassador, talks with Amanda Keefer, host of Produce for Kids, about the importance of family dinner and how families can kick start important conversations at the dinner table.

McCarthy, who also works with the international organization Slow Food, explains how the COVID-19 pandemic has blurred traditional boundaries within the house. Parents and kids are on top of each other 24/7, which makes the need for dedicated time together even more of a necessity, notes McCarthy. Eating — whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner — brings some structure to the day and establishes a set time for the family to put away their electronic devices and talk.

But where do you start the conversation? Well, “what’s for dinner” is a good place to start. Getting every member of the family involved in some aspect of the meal process, whether it’s setting the table, filling the water, prepping ingredients, or preparing the meal itself, can help bring everyone together. And by getting the kids involved in the actual cooking process, parents can teach them the importance of quality ingredients and healthy eating.

Family meal time is also an important opportunity to explore different cultures through food. Cooking is a global art form that bridges you to other cultures and traditions, and eating global cuisines offers a delicious lesson in diversity, teaching us to appreciate our differences and acknowledge our many similarities. Slow Food’s partnership with Meatless Monday demonstrates how many cultures naturally embrace plant-based eating and vegetarian dishes.

By starting the discussion around food, you can connect with your family on another level, while also introduce them to new, healthier dishes.