Raising Vegan Children Joyfully
If you're raising vegan children, my guess is you've decided to do so based on a mix of personal ethical beliefs, after reading about the hazards of a standard meat and dairy-based diet, simply because your child has allergies to meat and dairy products, or some mix of all of the above.
Children are naturally loving of animals and many people have to coax their children into eating meat, fish, and milk products. With their naturally inquisitive minds, you will probably find that they are really open to learning about why you eat the way you do and will enjoy telling their friends about it as well. Of course, if you've come to the decision to go vegan after you've already had kids, you might have to do more work with the explanations.
While so many people are unfamiliar with the vegan diet, it's actually not difficult to raise vegan kids.
I would definitely recommend checking out some of the amazing books about vegan parenting:
Raising Vegan Children in a Non-Vegan World
Raising Vegetarian Children: A Guide to Good Health and Family Harmony
That's Why We Don't Eat Animals: A Book About Vegans, Vegetarians, and All Living Things
Pregnancy, Children, and the Vegan Diet
When raising vegan children, one of the biggest obstacles you'll have to overcome will be with the scrutiny people will impart on you for your decision. Though you likely think it's radical to eat the flesh and byproducts of another species, they are used to eating that way, and to them it's radical to avoid animal products. It's a good idea to keep their perspective in mind all the time.
And, never forget that people are very sensitive about food decisions and about their personal methods of parenting. When you combine those two into raising vegan children and vegan parenting, you could create an explosive atmosphere. In most situations, I think it's best to keep discussions with non-vegan parents neutral and as far away from the food topic as possible. If you make very little fuss, they are much more likely to be accepting and go out of their way to make you (and more importantly, your children) feel comfortable in social situations.
Tips for handling questions about how you're raising vegan children:
- Have a sense of humor.
- Remember what it was like before you learned what you know about plant-based diets.
- Be compassionate, especially to those who think differently than you and might judge you.
- Educate yourself. You have to be armed with information so that anyone who questions you gets a compassionate, educated answer from you right away. If you don't have a really good example of how your children get plenty of calcium, people will question your ability to take care of your children. That sounds harsh, but it's true. If you can say that you understand why it seems so impossible for a child to get plenty of calcium without cow's milk, but actually your children eat tons of beans and leafy greens that are packed with calcium, you not only defend yourself, but you can help to educate them.It's especially important to be educated when you are visiting your children's pediatrician. If you have a good relationship with your child's doctor and s/he is open to a vegetarian lifestyle, this might not be as important. Undoubtedly your child's numbers are going to speak for themselves since vegan children tend to be so healthy. But it never hurts to be able to provide explanations of the foods you eat and what sources of the main (normally questioned) nutrients they eat, such as calcium and protein.
- Make life as easy as possible for your children. Some children will be able to handle any possible scrutiny the other kids might throw their way, but others would be less likely to know what to say. In those circumstances, you might consider getting a copy of the lunch menu so you know what the other kids are going to be eating that day. You can then send food that looks the same with your child to school.If your children go to daycare, you can talk to the leaders and ask what types of foods they'll be serving and arrange for vegan food for your child. Sometimes you can supply individual soymilk cartons if they are going to be handing out milk to the other kids.Jennifer McMann has some amazing cookbooks for packing vegan lunches that are so gorgeous and fun. I would definitely check out Vegan Lunch Box for incredible recipes, meal plans, and general tips on feeding your school-age children.When it comes to holidays and special occasions, there are many tactics for ensuring your children feel the excitement of the party without feeling left out or different than the others. Some parents like to offer to bring the desserts, or at least one cupcake/slice of cake for their child. And, there are a plethora of vegan burgers and hotdogs on the market now, so barbecues and picnics should never be a problem.
- Arm your children with the knowledge that you love them and are feeding them vegan food because you want the best for them. When they truly understand that concept, they will be on board.Most of all, enjoy raising vegan children who will hopefully grow up to choose the same compassionate, kind, and loving path in life.
Raising Vegan Children
Questions about Raising Vegan Children?
I once read there are a million ways to do raising children right and just a few, obvious, ways to do it wrong. Even though we all know that, it's hard not to worry about how we raise our children. Add in wanting to raise compassionate children who don't eat animals and it can multiple those concerns. You can ask questions here about anything related to raising vegan children and we'll get answers from experienced parents for you.
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