Janet Kearney helps you prepare for all the questions and situations that lie ahead…
Top tips for navigating life as a vegan family
Answer All The Questions
Prepare for every question possible: ‘Is breastmilk vegan?’, ‘Why are you depriving your kids?’, and the most common, as always, ‘Where do you get your protein from?’ Sometimes people are curious, other times they’re getting arthritis in their fingers from googling how harmful a vegan diet is. It’s natural to get defensive and annoyed, yet kindness is free, and you never know, it just might be another budding vegan in the making asking those questions.
Don’t Think You Know Everything About Nutrition
Kids are picky eaters, and if you have an older sibling in the house they will copy the distaste for anything they do. No matter what kind of diet a parent follows at home, adherence to correct milestones of calories and nutrients is a must. Websites like myveganchild.org have plant-based nutritionists on hand to help with recipes, meal planning and even appointments for some one to one time.
Explain Why You’re Vegan To The Kids
Don’t expect the kids to have the same wealth of knowledge as you when it comes to the planet, animals and their own health. They will want to do what their friends do, such as zoo trips and ice-cream. Some documentaries such as Earthlings may traumatize them, so field trips to animal sanctuaries is always a great option to let them bond with the animals. Explaining to them about why eggs are unhealthy with a little humour will go a long way.
Get Support From Other Plant-Based Families
In today’s world, finding families with the same values is as easy as a Facebook search. There are a growing number of groups online for parents within the vegan community. One with 30,000 families, ‘Vegan Pregnancy and Parenting’, offers assistance for the well-seasoned vegan to new beginners. There are smaller groups that focus specifically on food questions for kids, such as ‘Vegan Eats For Smaller Feet’. You’re sure to find what you need.
Be A Good Role Model
We know vegans come from all walks of life, and being vegan doesn’t always mean being healthy. Yet, if we want our kids to be healthy vegans, saving their own health while saving the animals, we have to model that behaviour for them. It’s easy to order French fries when out of the home, but a little person takes note. So, get the salad, and maybe a nice cream after.
Don’t wait for something to happen at school or a friend’s house before realizing something should have been said. Get involved, speak to the school nurse and ask if your child can be flagged the same as a child with allergies, so there are no accidental cupcakes given out. See if there’s storage in a freezer at the school for surprise class parties, where vegan snacks can be stored. Explain what veganism is to the teacher, and the more people who understand and know you, the less likely you’ll hear the dreaded words ‘it was only a little bit’.
Just Breath, You’re Doing A Great Job
Being vegan isn’t difficult, it’s simply a different outlook on life, one filled with compassion and understanding, and you, dear parent, are raising the next revolutionaries of our world. When the questions get too taxing, or feeling defensive is tiring, take a break and breathe, you’re a wonderful example of what the world needs more of.