Vegan Snacks for Preschoolers
I have 2 children: 2 and 4 years old. I would love tips on handling preschool snacks. The parents take turns providing snacks and sometimes it is dairy based or processed (like Goldfish). Should I always send them with a substitute snack and warn her teachers? They sometimes reward kids with a hershey kiss or sucker (MAYBE once a month). So that's all off-limits in a vegan diet right? What about birthday parties--bring our own cake? Halloween, Christmas, Easter treats?
I apologize for the MANY questions but I am that mysterious mix you described (anxious, nervous, thrilled, excited).
Thanks for any advice you have!
We are really lucky nowadays because people are much more open to and aware of dietary restrictions in schools, and the vegan diet itself is much more widely recognized and understood. You are right that the best thing to do is let her teachers know about her new diet changes because then they will be able to alter the treats. Most suckers are going to be totally vegan, whereas a Hershey's kiss would not be. I would think it would be easy enough for them to simply choose the lollipop rather than the piece of chocolate.
It's just really important to stay positive and non-preachy so the teachers don't feel you're trying to impose or put restrictions on what everyone eats. If they're in your corner, they might even let the parents know that one child doesn't eat dairy products, and it could even lead to more people providing healthier snacks. For now though, I would probably send a snack for her. You could even try sending a few snack options once a week so the teachers could pick one that closely matches up with what the other children are eating so your daughter would feel less like an outsider. Or, of course, if the parents send in vegan snacks, the teachers can just give those.
With birthday parties and holidays, again, it's all about the positive points you accumulate ahead of time. You will start to build a culture of being the nice woman who makes it easy for the other parents and then over time they might start adopting some of your habits. For birthday parties, I suggest asking the teachers for advance notice on days when there will be parties, and then making a tray of cupcakes or sending a slice of cake for your child. In some school systems, parents cannot bring in homemade baked goods, so you might be able to find a bakery that can do a cupcake for your daughter to go along with the birthday cake. There are always ways to make her feel comfortable on those important days.
There are so many candies that are naturally vegan that would work great for Halloween, Christmas, and Easter treats. I even read about a vegan Cadbury creme egg, which in my opinion means that there should never be a concern about your child missing out on holiday treats ever again! I love
Vegan Essentials, an online vegan store that is loaded with vegan candy options.