Monday, 21 September 2015

5 Wonderful Things About Raising a Vegan Kid



Raising a vegan child is awesome, not only does it shock unsuspecting old people, it is a great way to teach your child compassion. This month marks my eight year vegan anniversary. When I was pregnant, I was regularly asked whether I was going to raise the baby vegan. While I understand why people wonder such things, it always seemed like quite a ridiculous question. If I think veganism is the right thing to do, and trust the health and nutritional benefits for myself, why wouldn’t I want to raise my child vegan?

We live in a world where eating animal products is the norm, and deviating away from that is unusual, so I can see why people think it’s strange to raise a child vegan. But, for me, veganism is normal, and eating animal products is grim. I never questioned whether I would raise my child vegan,I didn’t need to give it any thought, I just always knew that I would. In the same way that I wouldn’t raise her to be a racist homophobic climate skeptic, of course I wouldn’t raise her to eat animals.

With three and a half years of experience tucked neatly under my belt, I can honestly say that raising vegan kids is easy. Here are five of the best things about raising a vegan kid:

#1: It teaches compassion
I want my daughter to grow up kind and considerate to others. I want her to be compassionate to others, mindful of her impact on the planet, and passionate about the causes she believes in. Veganism is the perfect starting point for this. I’ve been having conversations about veganism with my daughter since she first learned to talk. She knows that some people eat animals, and that we don’t. She knows where different animal products come from. And, most importantly, she understands the impact that this diet has on the animals themselves. She knows cow’s milk is created by mothers to feed their babies, and that people drinking it means the calves can’t. She knows that animals have feelings and family connections, just as we do. I haven’t sat her down and explained the ins and outs of the ‘rape rack’ or slaughterhouse methods, because I don’t want to horrify her. But she understands veganism in an age-appropriate way. I hope that this foundation of compassion and individual action will set her in good stead for the future.

#2: It’s harder to find junk food
It’s not impossible, not by any stretch of the imagination. Pretty much all food can be veganised nowadays. Supermarket shelves are filled with vegan cheese slices, chocolates and sweets. So it’s not difficult, but it is slightly harder. And I think that’s a good thing. I don’t have to endure a tantrum each time we go shopping because my daughter wants sweets. She has ice-cream sometimes when we go out for food, but not many places have dairy free ice-cream so it’s not a regular part of her diet. It’s great that so many products are vegan, but it makes it that little bit easier for vegans to eat crap, which I don’t really think is that good a thing. Especially where my three year old is concerned.

#3: Shoes Are Way Cheaper
This one probably isn’t the reason many parents choose to raise their kids vegan, but it’s definitely a hidden benefit. I don’t have to spend a fortune on the go-to brand for kids’ shoes, because I can’t. They’re all made from leather. Instead, I can save a fortune by choosing shoes made from manmade materials. Bargain.

#4: I won’t have to lie to her
One of the things I find pretty disturbing about modern society, is that we fill our children’s lives with animal characters. We point out cows in the field, we watch Peppa Pig on tv, and we cover their bedroom walls in sheep and other animals. Oh, and then we feed them all of these animals for dinner. At some point, children make the connection between the chicken they’re looking at, and the one they ate for lunch. And when that moment arises, it’s only too easy for parents to dismiss their child’s reaction. No kids want to eat Peppa Pig. I don’t have to worry about my daughter finding out that I’ve been feeding her Peppa, Saun and Nemo, because I’m not.

#5: I know how lovely my friends are
I have been surprised at how much effort my friends have made to help Ebony feel included at playdates and parties. I always take plenty of food and expect to provide the vegan options, but so many parents have found and made vegan foods for Ebony to enjoy. This might sound ridiculous, but it’s really moving to see people making such an effort to include her. Parents have provided cheese spread, chocolate buttons, biscuits and crisps specially chosen so that Ebony can have them. I know Ebony wouldn’t mind if she couldn’t eat the food, knowing that I’ll have some for her in my bag, but she always looks so excited to find out there is special vegan food available just for her. It’s so lovely, and really makes me feel grateful to have found the friends we have. It’s nice to know I don’t have to worry, that people get it, and that people don’t want her to be left out.

Are you raising vegan kids? What are the benefits you find most enjoyable?

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