I’ve been contemplating my life path more than usual lately, and one thing that keeps coming to mind are children and parenthood. While I’m in no place to seriously consider it any time soon, I think generally speaking, I would like to be a mom someday.
Short answer: Absolutely, yes. Without question. There is no stammering, no “I’m thinking about it…”. Unequivocally, absolutely YES. This is not to say I am placing any judgement on other parents, or that I would go around preaching songs of righteousness and superiority or “conversion” or any of that nonsense.
As a parent, you want to raise your kids in the best possible way, and that means whatever values and lessons you have for yourself will be passed on to them. This could be said for religion, family values and traditions, a focus on interests like sports, dance, math, the arts, etc…
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been cornered by others asking this question. I recall a very intimidating meet-the-parents dinner with one of my ex’s, where they kindly accommodated my diet and made a wonderful Italian spaghetti dinner. But early in the meal, as the bowl of meatballs was heavy-handedly dropped in front of my plate, they asked in a scrutinizing tone, “You want to raise your kids like this? You want to make them sick?”
WHOA! Now, I understand that what they probably meant was “I am not very knowledgeable in vegetarian nutrition, and I just want to make sure your kids will happy and healthy!” But it can be very hurtful when doing what you believe to be the best (and healthiest) for your children is put under attack, as though a diet full of whole foods is somehow equivalent to malnutrition.
Let’s talk about something else for a moment, shall we? Childhood obesity. Among all of the other health problems that I hope children won’t have, childhood obesity is ever-growing, and rapidly. The number of obese children has tripled since 1980. In the US, 20% of children are obese. One in five. And one third have fast food once every day. 1 out of 3 children have fast food once a day.
A year ago, I went to a chinese buffet with my Mom and Grandmother. And as I was piling my plate with green beans and rice noodles, I saw a young boy with a face so full and round his eyes almost looked permanently closed. He had two plates, and filling them with fried foods, all meat and carbs. And he went back for more food multiple times. It broke my heart.
But where are the food police to begin the barrage of questions to this child’s parents? (*Note: I do not advocate putting people on the spot, but let’s imagine for a moment what we could ask.) “How does your child get his fiber? What about his B-vitamins, calcium, zinc, folate, antioxidants? Do you want to make him sick?”
Let’s just take “meat eating” and “vegetarianism” out of the equation for a moment. The focus here should be on healthy children, learning to make responsible food choices. And a well-balanced diet of any kind can do that. A proper veg*n diet can be the antithesis of malnutrition.
As I learn more about nutrition and foster my maternal instincts, it is important to me to learn to raise healthy veg*n kids to tie in great eating habits, as well as personal values of compassion. How can anyone claim thats wrong or bad? My ultimate goal as mom is to teach my children to speak, and live, their truth.
Here are a few great sites to inspire veg*n diets and ideas for kids:
Certainly one of the most popular sites for vegans and parents, The Vegan Lunchbox is a blog that highlights the packed lunches of vegan kids, with mouthwatering photos and recipes. You will not believe how CUTE food can be! Jennifer McCann is beyond creative, and is also now a twice-published author, with two vegan lunchbox books that can be found at your local bookstore. Her site can inspire anyone stuck in a tofurkey sandwich rut. http://veganlunchbox.blogspot.com/
A great source for tons of information for vegan families, VegFamily Magazine is an online magazine with information on pregnancy, children, teens, and general health and recipes. Also features book review (my favorite!), product reviews, FAQ’s, shopping guides, and discussion forums. http://www.vegfamily.com/
Want to see something adorable? Check out VeganKids, a website and blog written and run by, you guessed it, vegan kids. Read about their experiences helping their parents cook (with photos!), playing with family pets, and everyday observations. Here’s an excerpt from an entry about reading: But There is one thing a hate. HATE. HATE! Adds. Okay, your reading a magizine and you see a add for meat. It shows a huge chunk of meat. A huge chunk of dead animal. Animal flesh. But the adds get worse. I see one that says “We love vegitairians. More meat for us”. Do those guys have any respect for people?! It’s just so annoying. There hasn’t been a new entry in about a year, but it’s still so cute to see a kid get so excited about this! http://www.vegankids.org/blog/
Vegan Parenting is a beautiful blog that is generally self-explanatory via the title, but has so much more! You can get recipes, links to videos, and insight from a vegan mom who writes about vegan-specific parenting issues. So insightful and encouraging! I am going to spend a lot more time here. Every minute I read more my biological clock begins to tick louder. http://www.veganparenting.com/