Janet Kearney from Vegan Pregnancy and Parenting shares her answers to the top 10 questions asked of vegan parents and how to deal with them…
At Vegan Pregnancy and Parenting we read questions every day that vegan parents are asked. From the outright face palms of ‘If you’re stuck on a desert island, would you eat a cow?’, to the hurtful ‘Are you harming your children by forcing them to eat a vegan diet?’ We’ve compiled a list of the most common ones, and how to answer them, without starting world war three over the Sunday family dinner.
1. Why are you forcing your belief on your children?
This is always the easiest to answer, because everyone does it. From the parents who take their children to church, or the kids who go hunting. We all use the guidance of belief about the world to teach our kids. For example, I teach my kids to recycle, and not waste water when they are brushing their teeth. I want them to appreciate the earth and its limited resources.
The same as the parent who ‘forces’ their children to take a bite of meat before they leave the table, vegan parents want their child to be healthy in the way they believe is the best way. The difference is, that vegan parents have read the reports about the dangers of meat consumption and have taken it on board.
2. Why are you making your child miss out on childhood? Let them go to the zoo/aquarium/horse riding.
Children do not need to see animals in cages to learn about them. My four year old can tell me every dinosaur that walked the earth, what they eat, what their habits were like and where they lived. Unless he’s apt to travelling back to pre human times, he’s never met a dinosaur.
We take him to sanctuaries and homeless shelters for animals. He can interact with animals who aren’t afraid for their lives, or slowly going insane from being locked up. Children are compassionate, if we bring them to zoos, they will slowly learn that this is okay to do to another living creature for entertainment.
3. Are you trying to make your kid the weird one out? What if they get bullied?
Unless the vegan population is a lot bigger than anyone actually realises, then bullying is something that is rampant across the board. We can help raise a compassionate child, who is able to stand up for their beliefs and argue their ethical point of view. Giving your child a burger, or chicken to eat, isn’t going to prevent them from being singled out by a bully.
4. What if your kid asks you for a cheeseburger?
What if your child asks for a cigarette? As parents, we are entrusted to raise these little people to the best of our ability. That means ensuring, they are getting the correct nutrition, exercise, and mental stimulation. Considering that red meat has been labeled as cancerous as cigarettes, we’re going to pass on the burger.
5. Aren’t all those vegetables and fruit bad for kids? They need protein to survive.
It is of course, a classic misconception that protein only comes from meat, much the same way calcium only comes from dairy. Learn those facts, you’re going to use them a lot over the next few years. A cup of oatmeal has the same calcium as a yogurt and 1oz of red meat has 7g of protein, whereas ½ cup of lentils has 9g, and 15g of fibre, all without the saturated fat. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!
6. What if your doctor disagrees with you, will you give them animal products then?
If the doctor disagrees with your kids eating a well balanced diet of fresh fruit ,vegetables and coupled with exercise, then we have bigger problems that I imagined. Find a well educated doctor, who has read up the effects of heart disease from saturated fat. The old adage of we can’t chose our family, but we can chose our friends, is the same for our medical team.
7. What about when his friends offer him a cupcake, or hotdog? Are you going to forbid it?
While they are younger, yes. Everyone is familiar with allergies now, so bringing a cupcake to a birthday party is really normal. When they get older, and have grown up as vegans, we have taught them as much as we can about the dangers of life, and what to avoid and embrace. With everything in life, they are their own person, and can make their own decisions. Yet, for now. We have the final say.
8. Is breast milk vegan?
While this is usually a question that is just asked as a way to rile you up, there are in rare instances, someone who genuinely is interested. Explain how veganism is about animals, not about humans. Unless that breastmilk is coming from an animal, then it isn’t in the same equation. However, yes, breastmilk is vegan, unless someone is being exploited for it.
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