My little sweet pea.

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.

This raises the question (that everyone, strangers and peers alike, seem to want to know): Will you raise your kids with a veg*n diet?

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/

I would love to hear from anyone that has insight on this topic! Please share your thoughts and information with us.

10 thoughts on “My little sweet pea.

  1. We have four kids & are raising them without meat. We do eat eggs & use other dairy-based products, but over the past year I’ve been trying to make a (slow, for sure) transition away from them – or at the very least, to using raw and farm-fresh products whenever possible.

    My friend Christa is raising vegan kids, and you’d probably love some of her recipes. Her website is: http://www.veganmania.com . From knowing her for almost a decade, though, I’ve learned a really important lesson: a fat body is not, alone, an indicator of overall health. The fat kid at the buffet may have been healthier than a thin kid sitting two tables down who you overlooked. Vegan doesn’t equal thin, and thin doesn’t equal healthy.

    • I appreciate your comments so very much, thank you! I think the most noble thing we can do is live in a way that reflects our deeper values. And if you are lucky enough to pass that on to your kids, man, you’ve really won!🙂

      I am very excited to check out your friend’s blog, thank you for mentioning it! I also appreciate the mention about fat not always equating to unhealthiness. What I was hoping to get at, is that I see kids eat a LOT of crappy processed food all the time and no one blinks an eye, but then – a vegetarian kid?! GASP! Likewise, not all veg*ns are healthy, either. (I was VERY obese and unhealthy for a period of time, while vegan, because I just didn’t eat well.)

      Thank you so much for all of the valuable things you have said! I’d love to hear more.

  2. This was really heart warming to read. When the day comes that I decided to start a family I will be very proud to raise them Vegan with compassion, understanding and knowledge about animals and how animals should be treated. My sister has brought her kids up to be vegetarian and it was so cute to listen to them explain to me why they didn’t eat meat! I remember the youngest one munching on celery telling me how much he loves animals and they are his friends so thats why he is a “begi-matar-ian’ hehe🙂 so cute!

    • Ahh that’s adorable! I also get totally sappy when I see veg kids. Animals are creatures that most all kids LOVE, want to pet, play with, and watch. So it’s no wonder a child gets a sense of pride when they can make the connection that meat = the animals they love, so they don’t have to eat ’em! Please stay in touch so we can someday gush about our awesome kids together🙂

  3. I waitress at a veg/vegan restaurant and have meet many vegan mommas that have raised their kids vegan. Their kids are, of course, happy and healthy and the moms said pregnancy and post-pregnancy did not require them to change their diets at all. (Why would it? As long as one eats thoughtfully and healthfully.)

    The kids usually are really outgoing and tell me they love being vegan. (What kid doesn’t become horrified when they learn that bacon comes from Babe.)

    • Shannon, that is so darn cute! I remember meeting so many kids at Farm Sanctuary, and one of my favorites was this little sweet potato named Sarah, who was playing in the grass with me overlooking the cow pasture. And she said, “Why would anyone want to eat cows? You hug them.”

      Cue the sappy ballad, right? Love it!

  4. Not all vegans are feminists, so I’m not exactly sure how this blog relates to your post, but it’s so interesting to me, I thought I’d share. It’s called “First the Egg:” http://www.firsttheegg.com/introduction/ and it’s written by a woman named Molly who is a vegetarian and “foodie” and feminist scholar. It’s still a work in progress. Besides some of really thoughtful writing about parenting as a feminist, there are cute tidbits about parenting as a vegetarian, such as: “Our son refers to vegetarian food as ‘regular food,’ as in ‘Why can’t they just eat regular food?'”.

    • Colleen, your son sounds so darn cute! Veggie kids just crumble me apart in the best of ways. Adorable!

      I am so very excited to check out that blog, and I’m thankful you mentioned it on here. Have you read “The Sexual Politics of Meat”? I have an older edition, but an updated edition just came out last month or something, which directly ties vegetarianism to feminism.

      Thank you so much for commenting!🙂

      • I have read (devoured, even🙂 “The Sexual Politics of Meat.” So great. Thanks for letting me know about the recent edition–I’ll have to check it out (my copy is the older edition, too).

        I don’t have a son (or any children just yet)–I was quoting from Molly’s blog about her son. Sorry for not being clear! (Although I’m sure my veggie kids *will* be darn cute, when they exist, in the future🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s