People sometimes ask me why I’m raising my kids vegan and not “giving them a choice” so I thought I’d write a blog post about it.
First of all I’d like to say that my kids aren’t really vegan (yet) since they can’t understand what that means yet, but are being raised on a vegan diet (or plant-based diet if you like) with a vegan lifestyle. Being vegan is an ethical choice that we make, and until my kids are old enough to make that choice for themselves, they are not really vegan. They just don’t use animal products.
The reason why we’re raising them vegan is because it’s what their dad and I believe is the right thing to do. Simple as that, really. Parents often try to instil their values in their children, teaching them what they believe to be right or wrong, like not to lie, steal, or hurt others. And being vegan is what we believe is right, so of course we’ll want to teach our kids to believe the same. And if we don’t agree with eating animal products, it makes sense that we wouldn’t cook them and feed them to our children.
Some people say that it’s not right to make the choice for our children, but I am just feeding them vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. It’s no more making the choice for them than a parent who feeds their child animal products is. As parents we can’t let our children have total control over what they eat, or my 3 year old would only eat Jelly Tots! Though of course you can’t force a child to eat either, you can only offer them food and hope they eat it.
Also, our kids aren’t old enough yet to make ethical choices. We wouldn’t let them do other things that we don’t agree with, like hurting people, so we don’t let them eat animal products. As parents, we have to make some choices for them when they are too young to do it themselves.
When we think the kids are old enough to decide for themselves, then they can decide if they want to be vegan or not. We’re not sure what age this will be. We’ll play it by ear. Of course they’ll get to an age where we won’t always know what they’re eating outside of the house anyway, so it would be impossible to stop them eating non-vegan food. But we won’t buy or cook non-vegan food for them, and would prefer not to have it in the house, since there’s no need to. We provide them with an adequate healthy diet and I definitely don’t want to have to cook two separate meals!
Of course I wouldn’t raise my kids vegan if I thought it would harm them. I think a vegan diet can be very healthy and provide all the necessary nutrients, and that it has some health benefits too. For instance, my kids are growing up with a love of fruit and veg, that many children don’t have. I hope this will start a good habit that they’ll have for life. I know that non-vegan kids eat fruit and veg too, but being vegan does help since it does usually mean there’s a lot of veg in their diet.
While I said that we will try to teach the kids what we believe to be right and wrong, we also want them to make up their own minds. We want to teach them what we believe, and then ask them what they think about it. We want to teach them about where food comes from, what happens on different kinds of farms, and in slaughter houses (in an age appropriate way). And we want to teach them to be compassionate people and to love animals. This way they have all the facts and can decide for themselves. We won’t have to lie or exaggerate anything.
Of course I hope my kids will decide to be vegan. I won’t lie, I would probably be a little disappointed if they don’t choose to be. But, of course, I’ll always love them just as much, no matter what they decide.