Rasing Vegan Children

Growing up we didn’t care or have any issues with our food. My father is a wonderful gardener and raised chickens and other animals. There was no such thing as organic or grass-fed animals in my days. Everything was organic and chickens roam freely in the backyard.

Today, life has become more complicated; we worry about the chemicals in the air, fluoride we drink, GMO’s, and toxic products in our food.

Upon soul searching and in-depth research I decided to adopt a vegan lifestyle mainly to stop harming animals and live a healthier, fulfilling, and guilty-free life.

Vegan children

Raising vegan children in a cruelty filled world could be daunting. I have 4 children from ages 20,18,13, & 7. Before we embarked on this vegan lifestyle I educated my children what its all about. I then allowed them to make a decision because after all they are old enough to think for themselves, well not the 7 year old. I never required ABSOLUTE conformity to our vegan lifestyle. All four children had to make their own decisions. Although what helped was I tried my very best to re-create their favorite dishes, cruelty-free, and they were very flexible and made the transition themselves.

I was lucky that they enjoyed the process and found it easy to adjust since I prepare food everyday. My husband and I have always enjoyed cooking and eating at home. Dinner is served at the same time everyday, prepared, and cooked at home. We hardly eat out. We enjoy the kids gathering around talking about their day while waiting for dinner to be served.

The best strategy to raise healthy, compassionate, and vegan children is to have both parents involved in making decisions for the kids. It makes the transition much easier; there are no debates and fights about food choices. I am so blessed that my husband has always supported my decision to switch to a vegan lifestyle. Together, we are able to educate our children with the reality of food, the ugly truth about animal agriculture, and reduce our carbon footprints.

Challenges

As we journey through a vegan lifestyle I began to understand that food choices could be a very sensitive topic for some parents. When parents find out we are a vegan family we usually get three different reactions:

First, people think we are acting righteous, two, applaud us for our efforts because they can’t do the transition themselves, and three, as vegans, do we meet our nutritional needs.

Over the course of time I became supple with the way I answer inquiries. I used to be offended and tired of answering the same questions over and over but I learned to provide answers that may provoke and challenge someone’s ability to think and rationalize the reality of food.

The biggest challenge I have is society’s ridicules and questions. As Vegans we got used to being asked where and how we get our protein? Kind of a redundant question and my children began dreading to answer them. To them, it’s a very naïve question but I always explain that our society comprised of mostly meat eaters, are conditioned to think that protein only comes from meat. So, we have to answer these questions politely and take it as an opportunity to educate others that protein is derived from just about anything we eat.

People don’t know…. what they don’t know!

In today’s society, it is normal to consume flesh and any animal bi-products. So when answering everyone’s questions keep in mind:

Be informed and use these moments as a teaching opportunity. We have to understand we used to act, think, and consume food like they do.

Have a sense of humor and don’t take things too serious.

Provide people examples of thriving Vegans in real life. This is why it is important to know about the lifestyle especially the benefits because you can provide this knowledge to people who are sceptical.

Provide children with knowledge they need to answer these questions with grace. Others are automatically defensive when you say you don’t consume animal products (adults too) and remember we used to think like them.

Vegan children in social settings

I used to have panic attacks when AJ, our 7 year old gets an invite to a birthday party. I learned that a little planning comes a long way. I usually communicate with the host of the party to get a good idea of what they are serving at the party. I then plan to bring AJ his own vegan cupcakes, or even offer to make them for everyone so he doesn’t feel left out when they start cutting the cake and eating them. I also feed him before the party and usually provide a dish or two so that my child can share and enjoy sitting down with the other kids.

The only regret I have is not starting sooner. Today as a family we are active, healthy, and happy. We are able to really love and enjoy our environment knowing we are making small efforts to reduce animal cruelty, reduce pollution, and able to enjoy our food with no guilt.

Reality

We live in a cruel world; a world where being different is almost a crime. You are ridiculed when you don’t meet people’s expectations. We have so much to learn from our children; their ability to adapt and adjust is just tremendously impressive!

So, if you are thinking of raising vegan children, brace yourself, stock up on knowledge, have fun, be creative in the kitchen, and most of all love the process.

“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures.” ~ A. Einstein

IG | @Veganxtal

Cigdem Millington