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Thread: new vegan with parenting questions

  1. #1

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    Default new vegan with parenting questions

    i recently started eating vegan and am wondering how to handle this change with my 4.5yo dd. we have always been health conscious and mostly vegetarian at home, so we're not switching from the SAD to vegan all at once, lol. but dd loves dairy. of course, i won't be buying any more dairy to have in the house. but i'm wondering how to handle this transition with her.

    she's very used to discussing whether or not something is healthy. and since i've gone vegan, i've started discussing animal rights with her too. but she's 4.5 so she doesn't necessarily understand the link between animals suffering and the food that she likes to eat. at her school, a different parent send the snack every day and it would be really difficult for me to prevent her from having dairy at school. next year she will be going to a different school and i'm hoping that after having the summer for her to get used to not having dairy anymore, i will be able to tell her school that we are vegan and i don't want her having animal products.

    i guess what i'm asking is if i should just go all the way and not allow her to have any more animal products or if, at 4.5yo, i should let her make some decisions regarding what she eats.

    one more question...i also have 18 month old twin boys and of course they are eating completely vegan with me. what kind of vitamin/supplements do you recommend for children? i mean, i know what vitamins they need in particular, but what brands have your kids liked? we currently have vitamins already that are not vegan and i'm going to finish using them before buying more, but i want to start looking for what i need to purchase next.

    any other advice you have about raising my children vegan is appreciated.

  2. #2

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    Default Re: new vegan with parenting questions

    My children were vegan from birth and the school were officially aware of this but still made mistakes. I hope your's is more on the ball. We had a treat box made up for my daughter so when other children celebrated their birthdays etc she had something from her box.

    We didn't go into detail about what happens to dairy animals, we just said at the start that cows' milk is for calves and if they don't get it from their mums they get something horrible instead. As my children BFed for a long time they understood very clearly that calves would prefer the milk from their own mothers. When the children were older I think they understood that calves were also taken from their mothers for slaughter but again, while they were very young I certainly didn't go into great detail.

    As your daughter is older it will be difficult to make rules about what happens outside the house unless she is co-operative and wants to change I would have thought . If you can find alternatives that she finds delicious you will have made a very good start . You can tell the schools and parents of her friends but tbh, I think you'll have to be realisitic and accept she will have things you'd rather she didn't have.

    Very soon she will be in a position to make more choices and this is for you to decide how to handle. If she is forbidden dairy chocolate and cheese etc is she likely to opt for them secretly? And how will you react when you find out? My daughter went to parties that were very supportive of her dietary needs - the mother would show her the vegan foods and provide a fair amount of treats for her but she told me years later that my daughter would often take other things when she thought herself unobserved. I only say this as we can only guide their early years and then hope the ethics we gave them become internalised. Right now I'm hoping my daughter will get more ethical as she gets older. I'm horrified at her choices atm but that's another story

    I knew another family who decided that outside the house their children would be vegetarian but house rules are vegan only. At the time I thought this far too lax but now I think it made sense, my children discovered cheese and dairy chocolate and I was too woolly in my house rules and let it slide until they freely have them in the house as well. Hmmmmm ... I think its time I changed that but maybe its a bit late now.

    Sorry, I can't remember vit supplements - I don't think I bothered that much anyway after babyhood.

  3. #3

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    Default Re: new vegan with parenting questions

    My youngest daughter is 3 and has been vegan from birth (and conception/pregnancy!). We have done the same as Gattona above and told her that cows milk is for cows not people and people milk is for people. My daughter is still BFeeding so understands completely that milk comes from a same species mother not another species. She attends pre-school and we provide a carton of soya milk a week and we gave them a Vegan Society 'I am vegan' info sheet about our daughter when she started detailing what she does eat/use and what she does not eat/use but despite speaking to the teacher who runs the pre-school and handing this very clear (and fun ) sheet to them, the day she started a different teacher was there and no-one had passed on the information that she is vegan So I think mistakes will get made at nursery but I speak to them frequently to be sure they understand (in a nice way of course).

    As far as vitamin supplements go I am a worrier so I do give my daughter supplements every day. She has B12 drops, vitamin C drops (which I cannot imagine she needs at all!!) and vitamin A drops and a kids multi-vitamin capsule (veggie capsule) which contains iron and iodine. She has a teaspoon of flax oil in her soya yoghurt daily and a spoonful of black treacle daily as it contains iodine and iron and possible other minerals too but the writing on the tin is very small. I am in the UK so the brands I use might not be available to you but I buy biosorb drops and junior biocaps from Bodykind online. Their site is great as if you click the info button it tells you if the product is vegan. I do believe in the US you can get chewy dinosaur vitamins that are vegan and suitable for children from 4 years of age. At least I have seen these online when I have been looking for vegan kids vitamins. The main things to make sure your kids get are B12, D2 and iodine. Flax oil is a source of omega 3 so that is good too. I do also make sure my daughter has a glass of calcium enriched orange juice daily.

    I hope this has helped and if you have any other queries or need any help at all please do PM me

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    Default Re: new vegan with parenting questions

    thanks for your responses! i'm still having a hard time deciding where to draw the line with dd. we shop at costco a lot and we were there yesterday and she wanted to try all the samples. she doesn't understand why i'm saying no to things she's used to eat (not that long ago). i've tried to explain to her why we aren't eating those things anymore and she just says that she doesn't care, she wants to eat chicken.

    yesterday, i let her have the samples at costco. but that made her brothers upset. and one thing she got, i thought it would be vegan, but i looked and it had dairy in it...and she had already handed some to her brothers. she also ate some of my sister's leftover that had egg in it and had some m&m's today that my sister bought.

    this is hard...i don't know whether to be hardcore about it or allow her to make more of her own choices. and should i use my money to pay for these things?

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    fortified twinkle's Avatar
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    Default Re: new vegan with parenting questions

    Livingfree, do you think it would help if you took her to a farm or sanctuary so she gets to meet some animals face to face? If she manages to see them as living, feeling things she might get why you don't eat them a bit more, and not want to either.
    "If you don't have a song to sing you're okay, you know how to get along humming" Waltz (better than fine) - Fiona Apple

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    Default Re: new vegan with parenting questions

    well she's been to a farm before and her school is actually taking a field trip out to a farm next week. BUT, the farm is a small dairy farm and they sell raw milk and they have actually started raising a few chickens and pigs to kill and sell:-( they also sell eggs.

    dd doesn't protest not eating meat TOO much. it's mostly the dairy and eggs b/c she's used to eating so many things with those in it.

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    Default Re: new vegan with parenting questions

    Hmmmmm, I do feel for you in this one.

    Maybe, when she has seen what look like happy hens, you could tell her a little about the likfe of a normal chicken. Not enough for nightmares, but tell her about them being squashed all their lives, and having their beaks chopped off so they cannot feed freely, that they have something under their feet that feels horrible all the time. Not to want to guilt trip her entirely but if she sees that there is a reason to want to avoid the industry she might understand more. The same about dairy cows. Something on a level you feel appropriate for her. If she doesn't understand why the change in her life is happening it will be even harder for her to accept.

    (ETA I've just re read your original post and seen you are doing this ... sorry ... I would suggest you keep going on this line, at 4.5 I would have expected her to understand what you are talking about and make the connection, that you don't want to buy something because producing it makes animals suffer )

    Also, if she is going to feel deprived then it will be difficult. You need to make sure you have yummy alternatives for the things she enjoys now, and make sure you have instant access to them so when she gets offered something she would previously been allowed you can dig into your bag and remind her ..'we don't have that anymore because we have found out what a sad life the chickens/cows have but I have got this for you if you want a treat' Of course, if you are also wanting to go the healthier eating / tooth protecting route (and what parent doesn't) there is also a response to that. Oh, the full bag a parent needs to lug around has suddenly got heavier with soya milk to put in tea when eating out, cake to replace the one in the tea bar and other snacks as you know full well that there will be nothing available were you are going.

    When mine were small I tried to keep treats to with a meal - when my daughter was small she didn't know about choccie bars etc but it was very different with a little boy who had a big sister and later we had limits on how many choccie bars a week ..gosh it is difficult though. When my daughter was about two I found a friend of hers poking cheesy crispy things into her mouth. The friend's mother was very apologetic, but of course on one level it was so sweet to see one little girl feeding a slightly younger girl.

    I'm getting rambly here so will stop .. good luck

  8. #8
    fortified twinkle's Avatar
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    Default Re: new vegan with parenting questions

    Re. limiting treats - my parents let me have them on "sweetie day" which was Friday, so of course I took every opportunity to sneak sweets at other times. It made me feel guilty because I was deceiving them, and set me up for an unhealthy relationship with snack foods that lasted a long time into adulthood, so I wouldn't recommend too much restriction in that department, just lots of choice and not making sweet seem more desireable than other foods. I liked plenty of all sorts of things, but the fact that sweets were forbidden most of the time made them much more attractive.
    "If you don't have a song to sing you're okay, you know how to get along humming" Waltz (better than fine) - Fiona Apple

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    Default Re: new vegan with parenting questions

    Mmmm, good point Twinkle

  10. #10

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    Default Re: new vegan with parenting questions

    thanks again for the replies. i do try to have treats and buy things for dd to have. and she is still eating snack with all her friends at school, so she's definitely not vegan yet.

    i'm debating about going on this field trip on friday. dd really wants to see the farm and the animals, but it's a small dairy farm and the animals are being raised for slaughter. i don't want her to see that!

  11. #11

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    Default Re: new vegan with parenting questions

    the field trip is really tricky isn't it. I would definitely not want my Beanie to go but children so love seeing animals because children just seem to have this beautiful inborn love for animals. At Beanie's nursery the last two weeks they have had a living eggs project. I was not happy about this at all although the living eggs website says all the chicks are re-homed not slaughtered but i don't know. Beanie of course absolutely loved seeing the chicks because she is a beautiful, kind sweetheart but big meanie mummy is not happy about any of this kind of use of animals. I guess you have to do what you think is right for you and your family. In the case of a trip to a dairy farm I definitely would not let Beanie go but I would take her somewhere else on the day instead - maybe a sanctuary or something. Keep up the good vegan work, livingfree - you're doing great

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    Default Re: new vegan with parenting questions

    yeah they have eggs at dd's school that they are hatching and when the chicks get a bit older, they will go back to the farm. but i'm not sure what the farm is doing with them. i'm guessing they will either be butchered eventually or they will be used as laying hens. i don't think we're gonna go on the field trip. i'm not sure what to tell dd though...she really, really wants to go. but i have 18mo twins and no help that day so i already wasn't sure i could handle all 3 kids at the farm by myself. i just feel bad for dd b/c she wants to go to the farm. i'd like to take her to a farm another time but where am i gonna find a farm where they raise animals but don't exploit them? most farms milk their animals, collect the eggs, etc.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: new vegan with parenting questions

    Maybe you can find a farm animal sanctuary (for rescued animals) sometime? There are a couple listed here http://www.farmanimalshelters.org/links.htm#TEXAS but I've no idea whether they are still in existence or anywhere near you.

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    Default Re: new vegan with parenting questions

    When jake (who's three) requests something non-vegan, i tell him it hurts the animals and makes them sad, which seems to be working. of course, a 4.5 year old is a lot more stubborn i imagine. I do like the idea of telling him cows milk is for cows and human milk is for humans. I try to be relaxed about him having snacks and parties and things, because although i hate the idea of him eating dairy etc, there's not neccessarily anything i can do about it. It's probably better for him to grow up knowing the ethics of veganism and adopting it more strictly for himself when he's older rather than him growing up with issues over food and resenting veganism. Plus, seeing as his paternal side of the family repeatedly get veganism and gluten free confused, I've had to just resign myself to the fact that he's probably only veggie at best during his dads weekends

    As for supplements atc, I give him a liquid b12 supplement, and use omega enriched cooking oil. it might be worth going to your health visitor to see if you can get supplements on prescription?

  15. #15

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    Default Re: new vegan with parenting questions

    just wanted to update this thread and say that i decided to get strict with dd and over the summer, she's had a strictly vegan diet and we're continuing that at her new school. i'm sending snack with her and have made notes on all her papers that she is vegan and should be given no animal products such as meat, dairy, eggs, gelatin, etc. i asked for them to let me know if there was going to be a class party so that i could send something special for dd to eat. so hopefully we won't have any problems.

    she has a birthday party to go to on saturday and i've already talked with her about how we're going to get her a special treat b/c the birthday cake will have dairy/eggs in it. we've made so much progress over the summer and dd accepts being vegan as her normal life these days.

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    Default Re: new vegan with parenting questions

    That's fab! I'm really pleased to hear that - it's very encouraging!

  17. #17

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    Default Re: new vegan with parenting questions

    Hiya,
    Got 6 yr old twins and when my DP and I became vegan, gave them the choice and they were keen to join us. We initially (as transition) allowed them to be vegetarian when went round friends' houses but one then chose to be full-time vegan, closely followed by the other when he realised he was missing out on the yummy cakes I sometimes sent along with them!
    Have you seen the book 'That's why we don't eat animals' by Ruby Roth? It is for children and is beautiful and not upsetting, just quite moving. Really helped explain things with my kids.
    I give them Floradix supplement in their porridge in the morning and vegan multi-vits in the evening. Kids are huge and thriving!
    School was battle- had lots meetings with school dinners organiser but we have now come to compromise and they make batch vegan cup cakes to give them, and leave out meat/ meat substitutes from things like spag bol, and I take in things like L. Mcartney pies and vegan sausages and get reimbursed.
    Know sounds like lot hassle but once got systems set up, it becomes routine.
    As for sweets/cakes/cheese- just make yr own vegan versions! Never had any complaints yet ;-)
    Sorry for late contribution but I only just joined this forum- got lots parenting questions myself!

  18. #18
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: new vegan with parenting questions

    Just wanted to say welcome, Kaha.

    Sounds as if you won the battle with the school, well done! And it's great that your twins chose to be vegan of their own free will.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: new vegan with parenting questions

    I should find a copy of the "I am vegan" sheet to give my daughters' school and daycare. It might help with the transition. We've been of the "vegan at home, vegetarian outside" school, but I am keen to go totally vegan for them.

    My 5-year old has been very keen on the topic recently, ever since she read a book on sharks that discussed them being made into soup. She didn't like that idea at all, so it gave me a chance to talk about why we didn't eat animals.
    Flesh eating is unprovoked murder. ~ Benjamin Franklin

  20. #20
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    Default Re: new vegan with parenting questions

    Have you tried Daiya?
    It's this amazing cheese substitute.
    You can make your little ones smoothies. Stick half an avocado and some kale in there, a cup of orange juice, some strawberries and bananas...

    They're eating veggies in a tasty drink.
    Being vegan can be really fun for toddler and kids.

    Virtually all of their favourite treats can be made with egg substitute and vegan margarine (earth balance for example).

    So they can still have baked goods once in a while.

    Yves makes a great line of meat alternatives. Veggie dogs, bologna, sausage, pepperonie.
    Almond milk has the same amount of calcium as cows milk.

    So many tasty treats. Cruelty free.

    You can take them to an animal sanctuary or maybe even get them an animal companion (if they don't have one already) to reenforce why it's good to be kind to animals.

    There's a book out now called "why we don't eat animals" there are tons of them really.

    Goodluck mama!

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