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Thread: A question for vegan parents - how easy have you found raising kids vegan?

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    MarkAnthony's Avatar
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    Default A question for vegan parents - how easy have you found raising kids vegan?

    Apologies if something like this has been done before.

    I have been a committed vegan for over a year now. Tonight my girlfriend and I had somewhat of a row over our kids and how best to bring them up (we don't have any yet, but hope to someday!)

    I've said since going vegan I don't want to bring my kids up as vegetarians or omnivores, but as vegans. This has been a source of contention between my and my gf, she eats chicken and fish, although no other meat and has talked about becoming vegetarian before. Today she argued that it would be impossible to raise our kids as vegans because they would miss out on things other kids got and as a result would 'hate' us. By missing out she meant the difficulty of our kids going to friends' house for tea, or getting treats given out by teachers in class, or when their friends are eating sweets, crisps, cake etc.

    She argued in this respect we should raise them as vegetarian (although that all the feed we provided for them could be vegan) whilst making exceptions in scenarios such as the ones above. Not only would I be deeply uncomfortable with this, but I feel it may bring up issues where kids came home and asked why they couldn't eat what they ate at so-and-so's house for example, causing much more conflict than there would have been if they didn't eat that in the first place.

    For the vegan parents out there, how easy have you found raising kids vegan in a non-vegan, even anti-vegan world? Have you had problems such as the ones I've suggested or do your kids generally accept the principle that animals are not there for humans to exploit as food?
    There’s a statue that the abattoir erected to remind us all of their contributions. To me it marks Potemkin City Limits, this Francis cast in bronze.

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    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents

    Hi Mark Anthony,

    I think that part of this problem is 'self-adjusting' in a way, meaning that when kids are really young, they hardly understand that there is a difference between a vegan and non-vegan lifestyle/diet, and when they grow old enough to understand this, it's also possible to talk to them with them and explain that's we don't want to by animal products for them because we are ignoring their needs or wishes, but because we respect that animals also have needs, wishes and feelings.

    Kids normally understand the importance of freedom better than adults. They understand that while we respect that they want to decide over their own lives, we also would like to decide over our lives, where our money goes and so on. They're also good at understanding that animals would like not to be hurt or kept in captivity.

    Situations where a child wants something - but won't get it pops up in all families. In my experience, the best way to make them understand that we won't always buy the stuff they would like us to do, is to tell them that if they eg. had a dog or cat wanting candy all day long, and they knew it would be bad for their health, they wouldn't give that animal candy all day long either. Or better: ask them if they would.

    The situation is a bit different when our kids visit non-vegan families. We can't expect small children to explain others why their family is living as vegans. In such situations, I think we should do the 'dirty' job: talk with other parents, and make sure there's something vegan they can eat while visiting others. It normally isn't that difficult, really... If our 6-year old is going to a birthday, we talk with the parents first, and in addition, make sure that he isn't hungry when going there. He's happy with going to a birthday party if they have eg. popcorn, apple juice or other common vegan stuff there, and since there are at least one kid with milk allergy (or lactose intolerance?) in his class, they are at least two kids not eating anything with dairy in, so parents sometimes bake cakes that are free from eggs/milk as well.

    Today she argued that it would be impossible to raise our kids as vegans because they would miss out on things other kids got and as a result would 'hate' us.
    I haven't seen that happen at all... kids are very loyal to their parents, and as long as they understand that we're on their (and the animals') side, they won't hate us at all. On the contrary, I think being raised as a kid that has a different lifestyle than most people has will make it easier for them to grow up as strong, independent beings.

    Not buying burgers to them also means that they won't get stuff most other kids get, but I don't see that as an argument pro taking them to McDonalds... the fact is that if they are raised as vegans, they won't miss that other stuff much at all, because they have never eaten it.

    Regarding treats given out by teachers in class, I think it's a much better idea to talk with the teacher and try to get him/her to respect that many children avoid various kinds of animal products (and sugar) for various reasons (Hindus, Muslims, vegetarians, vegans, lactose intolerant children etc), and politely ask if they could focus on giving kids treats that all kids eat, and not only the kids following a mainstream diet/lifestyle.


    If your gf is not a vegetarian, I guess the only logical reason that she should respect your wishes about raising them as vegans, would be that while you are against killing eg. fish, she isn't against eating vegetables and fruit etc., so focusing on giving them stuff both are OK with would both make sense and cause less friction.

    People who freely have decided to become vegetarians and vegans are often more passionate about their viewpoints than someone who eg. has been raised as Muslims or Jews, but still - in some families, maybe it would have been easier to get respect if veganism was some kind of religion: I doubt that in a couple consisting of a Muslim and a non-Muslim, the non-Muslim, would insist that the Muslim should serve her children bacon. In general, I feel that people respect others' dietary choices as long as they understand that these are important for them.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

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    cookey's Avatar
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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents

    All parents will have some things that they disgree about in bringing up their children and you have to find ways to compromise. Perhaps you and your girlfiend have found this issue for you!
    I am raising two daughters who I have always fed vegan. However, the younger one lives half the week with her dad(they have different fathers). He is vegetarian so that's how she eats there. We did start by her being vegan all the time but her father decided that this was too difficult for him. It's not something I feel comfortable about but as we shared childcare since her birth, I feel that he has as much of a say in her upbringing as I do. My older daughter is vegan pretty much all the time.
    There are issues about them going to other people's houses and parties. I usually send food unless the other person is able to understand what to cook. Close freinds and family are able to cook for them fine. But there have been times in the past that they have asked for egg or cheese at other peoples houses and got it because the other adult believes that they should be able to choose.
    As they are now 7 and nearly 9, they have their own opinions about food. They both think that meat is pretty horrible but I don't think they feel very strongly about milk and egg products. My plan around now is to get some more information about the industry so they can read it for themselves.

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    MarkAnthony's Avatar
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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents

    Cheers that's really helpful. I'll be passing some of this info on!
    There’s a statue that the abattoir erected to remind us all of their contributions. To me it marks Potemkin City Limits, this Francis cast in bronze.

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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents

    I thought i'd raise my daughter vegan and expected her to rebel against me when she was about twelve (when i did against eating meat). however at about 2 1/2 she was telling me she wanted to eat roast beef and started sticking her hands in birthday cakes at parties (while they where still in the kitchen!) and being pretty uncontrollable around food.
    slowly she ended up eating some cheese and eggs at my mum's (only organic) and became vegetarian. she still only eats vegan at home, apart from having vegie cheese in her school lunch.
    i know only one vegan family here and the children are so henpecked and stressed about what they can eat that i'm sure it will affect them psychologically.
    while in an ideal world it would be great if my daughter is vegan, at 6 she feels she has made a decision to be vegie (the only kid at her school) and is really proud of it.
    i really feel that if i'd pressured her into staying vegan she would have felt like a deprived child. now at birthday parties she can eat what she likes and we're both happier.
    in the long run the child's mental health is obviously crucial and i believe they can still care strongly for animals without stress and deprivation.

    for me, being vegan is essential. for a kid being vegetarian is plenty.

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    Va'amish Heartsease's Avatar
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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents

    Quote MarkAnthony View Post
    do your kids generally accept the principle that animals are not there for humans to exploit as food?
    My son, age 10, is a life-long vegan. I would say he knows that animals are not around to be exploited for food. I think, just as is the case for many people, that one automatically takes on board the principles one was brought up with. At some point these preconceived ideas will be questioned by our children (hopefully!)....and in the case of veganism (In my view) the questioning could not easily unfold the commonsense of the concept. I think my son will remain vegan....although as a young adult I suspect he may 'rebel' against the 'wholefood' aspect of his diet. He may decide to eat prunes ALL day and lick maple syrup off a spoon (or a ladle).....then, when he's feeling really, really ill, he'll realise there were good reasons why I did'nt let him do such things when he was 10!

    Oh...I don't think the world is anti-vegan. I find people to be neutral or enthusiastic about it .
    "Ah...." says one, "well, you both look really good on it...such rosy cheeks!".
    People oftenly say they 'admire' vegans because they 'would'nt' be able to do it themselves (give up meat and stuff!).

    I have to say that being vegan is not a source of stress for my child. It seems to be a total non-issue. He's good at reading labels and knowing what's good and what's not. He's pretty cool and relaxed about it even when he's a guest elsewhere and there's nothing much on offer...
    Once we were invited to a birthday party where the host prepared a dish of food especially for us... we ended up sharing some with our nearest neighbours at the table because everyone seemed to lose interest in their own food once they'd seen ours!
    "You can discover more about a person in one hour of play than in a year of conversation" ~ Plato

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    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents - how easy have you found raising kids vegan?

    I have to say that being vegan is not a source of stress for my child. It seems to be a total non-issue.
    Same here. If anything, he seems to be proud of it. At six, he is even occasionally (when talking with meat-eating friends his own age) challenging them with questions like 'Would you have been happy if someone wanted to kill and eat you?'.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents - how easy have you found raising kids vegan?

    My boyfriend and I have a similar problem though we don't plan on having kids anytime soon...We offten talk about the future and when I say that I plan on raising my children vegan from birth he looks at me like im crazy then states that it will be way too hard to get through school as a vegan. But I don't care what anyone says I plan to raise my children vegan and if anyone trys to get in the way of that I will go crazy!

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    Maisiepaisie's Avatar
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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents - how easy have you found raising kids vegan?

    I raised both my sons vegetarian from birth. My youngest who's 12 now went vegan a few weeks after I did 2 and a half years ago but my eldest, who is now 14 I'm worried may be eating meat He lives with his dad who told me that he eats meat when he's out with his friends but my son denies it although he admits that he has tasted meat one time.

    My son who's vegan has a friend at school who is also vegan but they don't go around broadcasting their veganism because of what the kids are like in this area. I hope I don't offend you when I say this and I am living in Manchester also but in my opinion, Manchester is not a good place to raise children especially when those children are 'different' from what is considered to be the norm. My youngest tells me that if everyone at school knew he was vegan he'd get beaten up. Seriously thats what its like here

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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents - how easy have you found raising kids vegan?

    Bethan was raised vegetarian (her mother is a lacto-ovo former vegan) and at 13 decided to become vegan with no prompting from me.
    She is on this board (BassPixie) and I hope she will share some of her experience of childhood vegetarianism and muse on what it might have been like to be a vegan for those years instead. Maybe after her last GCSE exam today, eh.

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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents - how easy have you found raising kids vegan?

    Ooh fingers crossed for GCSEs

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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents - how easy have you found raising kids vegan?

    Quote absentmindedfan View Post
    Ooh fingers crossed for GCSEs
    She has one more tomorrow too, I will pass on the finger crossedness to her in case she isn't following this thread but revising instead. Yeah, right.

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    Metal Head emzy1985's Avatar
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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents - how easy have you found raising kids vegan?

    I wish I was vegan from birth. I feel so dirty for ever participating in that disgusting practise of being an omnivore. My vegetarian parents should have known better. Keep up the good work vegan parents out there!!
    The taste of anything in my mouth for 5 seconds does not equate to the beauty and complexity of life.

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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents - how easy have you found raising kids vegan?

    I only find it an issue at social occasions such as birthday, or school sports day (they get a choc-ice), but as long as i have a little notice i just make a cake or buy some vegan choc-ices or whatever, which makes the whole thing fine then. Actually it's a very good opportunity to show other kids what vegans can eat, and i find they are usually receptive and want to try the foods .

    It has caused some tension in the dinner hall at school and my son was made to sit alone for a while because he was, erm, getting a little 'graphic' with the truth about other people's 'food' - but fortunately i found that hilarious so he saw the funny side, too . I told the school that I would not prevent my son from telling the truth.

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    Hemlock's Avatar
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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents - how easy have you found raising kids vegan?

    I wish schools etc would stop rewarding kids with food
    My son is grown up so it isn't an issue, there is so much obesity and sickness out there now that surely it would be much more sensible to reward with a pack of pencils or something
    Also if kids are rewarded with food all the time they will connect food with comfort which can lead to a lifetime of eating problems.
    Silent but deadly :p

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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents - how easy have you found raising kids vegan?

    Quote Hemlock View Post
    I wish schools etc would stop rewarding kids with food
    I wish people etc would stop generalising

    In my first year of teaching I did occasionally give sweets for prizes, but after teaching healthy eating in the same year I soon noticed the mixed message I have a big box of pencils, rubbers etc... in the corner of my classroom. It would be easier and cheaper to buy sweets though. Some teachers I know give little toys - bouncy balls etc, but I'm sure they have quite enough fun More work

    Quote Korn View Post
    Same here. If anything, he seems to be proud of it. At six, he is even occasionally (when talking with meat-eating friends his own age) challenging them with questions like 'Would you have been happy if someone wanted to kill and eat you?'.
    Higher order thinking skills, that's pretty fantastic

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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents - how easy have you found raising kids vegan?

    I have been thinking about this issue a lot, as my husband and I are at the stage where we are ready to have kids. He is omni, but mostly eats the vegan stuff I cook anyway.
    It is heartening to hear such positive experiences, and I am beoming more and more determined to raise my child(ren) totally vegan. If they get to an age when they can understand the concepts but feel very strongly that they don't want to continue being vegan, then I will accept that as long as they don't expect me to cook them non-vegan food!
    I think it is a little like religion - I want them to have a choice, but also make sure they have the facts.

    I think I'll be back in New Zealand by then, so it will be interesting... NZers tend to be generally more tolerant to differences than the British, but there is far less of a vegan culture there, being a country with a huge meat and dairy industry. It will be an interesting journey I feel! But one I am hugely looking forward to.
    Kia kaha e hoa, kia ora

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    Span's Avatar
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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents - how easy have you found raising kids vegan?

    Our children have always been Veggie.
    When I became vegan, they were predominantly vegan at home but still had the 'other' stuff outside the house.
    It got really confusing for them. They wanted the milk chocolate at home, but I couldn't bring myself to give it to them because I knew about it, so after a few months we all decided it was better if they became vegan too.

    That was a few years ago now, and they are 7 & 5 and happy to be vegan.

    They know what to check for, understand parties so they take their own food - ultimately, it's the party they want to be at with the fun and games, not the food!
    I give vegan sweets to the teacher to give out when other children bring birthday sweets in, and they have their own biscuit pot at school that I fill up. Our school is pretty good and tell me if they are planning food tasting etc so I prepare for it.

    The 7 year old says sometimes he tries his friend's chocolate biscuit at lunch time, I just ignore it, I don't want to become the food gestapo. He can make these life choices, he's getting older and needs to make independent choices about his life.

    Vegan kids are easy. It just takes a bit of thought and preparation some times, but it's just the way our life is, just like reading packets in supermarkets, it's just something else we do as a family of vegans.... not a problem at all.

    If you never shy from the truth about what some foods are: pork is PIG and beef is COW and burgers are made of animals, kids that have never eaten meat find this concept really weird in itself...... "What ...... people eat animals? ......really?..... why?" And make the connection that the cute farm yard books and animated animals don't live like that, they're dinner for your friends then they get it.

    Our eldest is a bit of a nag to his friends, constantly preaching, but that's life. (but he also moans to his friends who eat kitkats because they're nestle!!!!) We haven't told him to do that, but if he thinks that's ok, I'm not going to stop him telling the truth! It's what we've always insisted on, no backing down when things get awkward.

    Give them information all the time, they'll surprise you, heck he even argues with the teachers when they tell the children milk gives them strong bones - you go boy!

    Ultimately, knowing what I know about milk, just on a health basis, I could no sooner give them a glass of the 'white stuff' than I could a big mac or cigarette. If we wouldn't eat it, why on earth would I give it to the two people I treasure the most? Their well being is our responsibility and so they are vegan. When they are old enough to make the choices that count (and not just because they really want a kinder egg!) then they are free to do so.

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    Maisiepaisie's Avatar
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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents - how easy have you found raising kids vegan?

    Quote Hemlock View Post
    I wish schools etc would stop rewarding kids with food
    I know what you mean and its usually sweets with gelatin I would always have to buy some other treat to swap it with. I'm glad its not an issue now both my kids are in high school.

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    Span's Avatar
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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents - how easy have you found raising kids vegan?

    When our children take in treats for the children to celebrate their birthdays, I send them with mini boxes of raisins

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    Hemlock's Avatar
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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents - how easy have you found raising kids vegan?

    I'm trying not to generalise Cherry but when my son was at primary school (er....quite a long time ago) he came home almost every day with some horrible confectionary which I used to have to prise out of his sticky paws as I didn't allow random sweet eating - it's probably different now - I don't know.
    By the etc I mean other stuff like running the gamut of birthday parties and so on and wondering whether he was eating meat sandwiches and going to come home in a state from eating e-numbers.
    It's a fine line between maintaining your lifestyle and being a total kill joy with the kids
    Silent but deadly :p

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    cherished emmapresley's Avatar
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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents - how easy have you found raising kids vegan?

    i would've liked to have known all this wonderful vegan lifestyle stuff a looong time ago when i might've had more influence over what my (older and somewhat stubborn) kid(s) eat. as it goes, as it's probably known on here anyway, one is near vegan and the other is quite anti vegan..weirdly, i don't get it but there you go...i'm thinking more these days it's a rebellion thing with a hint of respect for my morals but asserting her own ability to choose stuff.
    everything i buy for us all to eat in the house is vegan and i've tried quite a few alternatives to milk, cheese and that fake meat stuff..the soya/rice milk now goes down well, cheezly is accepted with appreciative comments on stuff like pizza and fake meat is..well, fake meat

    i'm now getting 'constructive criticism' from my mother .. ..suggesting i allow her to eat whatever she wants as it's likely to have her store up resentment, which she'll then use against me in the future..i laugh at this with a tinge of depsair because i think she's building up plenty of resentment just by me existing.

    so..my 12 year old daughter spends 6 to 8 hours outside of our home 5 days a week (to and from school), and 3 days a week (after school for tea)with her dad..is out with friends for a considerable amount of time at the weekend and therefore spends a paltry 4 days a week from approx 4pm to bedtime at home..where i make sure i prepare a vegan meal from scratch that she actually enjoys?!?! (heaven forbid say my critics).
    so i'm wondering how to tell these people to sod off and look to their own mistakes before critiscing me...or maybe i just can't take *advice* so well
    ahronli sed ah dunit so thid tek thuh cheyus graytuh offa mi nihbles

  23. #23
    cobweb
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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents - how easy have you found raising kids vegan?

    just tell them to sod off, plain and simple girl!

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    Default Re: A question for vegan parents - how easy have you found raising kids vegan?

    Quote Hemlock View Post
    I'm trying not to generalise Cherry but when my son was at primary school (er....quite a long time ago) he came home almost every day with some horrible confectionary which I used to have to prise out of his sticky paws
    Just sticking up for teachers who promote healthy eating. You have a good point - I guess children who eat only junk food at home are exposed at school to healthier stuff, school dinners with vegetables, fruit at playtimes, food tasting etc, but they're also likely to encounter sweets now and then. My class bring in sweets for each other when it's their birthdays, and they're usually icky sweets.

    Good idea about the raisins Span. I'll do that when it's my birthday - or give them tangerines. Might start a trend

  25. #25

    Default Re: A question for vegan parents - how easy have you found raising kids vegan?

    I found that raising our kids vegan has been relatively easier than I expected. We already spend a lot of time looking for really good child care, so finding vegan friendly places we just a bit more work; although the good ones are already accomodating, and only the ones we wouldn't have wanted anyhow are problematic.

    The rest has been quite easy. Feeding is easy. Relatives give us a hard time rarely, if at all. It's been harder to explain to them that we dont' want the kids going to zoo's, but that about it. They get them vegan yogurts and everything. Even travel has been relatively easy.

    It's just as hard as parenting can be.
    context is everything

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