vegan parent needing help :) - Mothering Forums
Vegetarian and Vegan > vegan parent needing help :)
veggielover's Avatar veggielover 02:50 PM 04-18-2004
Here's my dilemma: I married a single father with a five year old daughter. Father and daughter were both meat eaters. We've been married 3 yrs now, my husband has since adopted my vegan lifestyle, but daughter still eats meat, dairy and junk food at grandparents, school, etc and occasionally he takes her to McD's. Here's my problem- I now have a 6 month old daughter, who I plan to raise as vegan, husband agrees to support me. How do I explain to my baby as she grows that it's not ok to eat meat, dairy or junk food, even though her older sister does??? Help, anyone??? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

PikkuMyy's Avatar PikkuMyy 02:51 AM 04-19-2004
Hi Jaimie,

See this thread "Raising vegan/vegetarian children and issues associated " a little higher up for a discussion of this sort of issue.

Also check out for information and a vegetarian parenting discussion board.

tessamami's Avatar tessamami 03:08 AM 04-19-2004
This sounds really tough, since of course you don't want to make this an "issue". I don't see why however, that you can't have house rules about the foods you consume in the house, for you and both kids.

Also, for young kids it is probably extra challenging to follow such a restrictive diet, even with an experienced vegan chef (you). So I hope that you are prepared to compromise, or deal with some crying, complaining and food sneaking.

One thing I'd suggest, if you have the room and don't want to have house rules about meat, dairy, eggs, etc. is to purchase a second refrigerator for those items.
LaLa's Avatar LaLa 10:40 AM 04-19-2004
I would recommend getting your hands on a copy of the book, Raising a Vegan Child in a Non Vegan World
For book, click here
This link offers discount and free shipping too!

I wish I had some great ideas of my own!
veggielover's Avatar veggielover 03:19 AM 04-20-2004
Thanks to those of you who replied! I agree that there should be a house rule as to what's allowed in the house- unfortunately husband doesn't agree He was raised in a very strict health minded home with NO sugar, however was allowed to eat meat, dairy, etc.... He feels that it's too hard on the kids.We already have a "no meat" rule in the house, which my step daughter doesn't seem to mind too much ( she gets her meat, dairy elsewhere- Grandma's, school, eating out, etc ) I am mainly struggling with the issue of how to explain to my 6 mo old as she grows why her eating habits are different from her sister's ( Dad allows his 8 yr old to eat junk food, sugar on occasion). I don't want to make it a big deal, but also not willing to compromise, seeing as how sugar weakens immune system, among other issues. If anyone else has some advice, I'll continue to keep an eye on this thread. All help will be greatly appreciated!! Just interested in what you guys would do in my shoes Thanks a bunch!! God Bless!
faeriedreams's Avatar faeriedreams 11:00 AM 04-20-2004
I think that the older daughter is old enough to help you out in this area! As your baby grows older, and it starts to become an issue, I would ask your step-daughter for help in this area. She might be very willing to eat healthy foods when she is around her sister, and avoid talking about candy/junk food with her. If she eats junk foods in the house, maybe you could make a special outing to the health food store (if it was the two of you, it might seem more special...maybe even go out for lunch before hand), and pick out healthy "junkfoods" that she would be willing to eat around the house...foods that you would not mind dd eventually eating. Kids that age love to be helpers, and she would probably love the idea of helping you and her baby sister out!

Erin Pavlina's Avatar Erin Pavlina 12:22 PM 04-20-2004
Let's look at it from a different perspective for a minute and see how you would handle it.

What if your 6 mo old was highly, even deathly, allergic to lots of foods like eggs or nuts or something like that. And she sees her older sister eating those things she's not allowed to have. How would you explain to her why she couldn't eat those things even though other people could?

What if you were raising your daughter Kosher or what if she was diabetic? How would you explain to her why people eat differently than she does?

If I were in your situation, I would teach my daughter as she grew why you have chosen veganism. Kids understand compassion. My daughter is 4 years old right now and she always tells her grandparents to stop eating animals because it isn't nice. I didn't tell her to say that, she just does.

She has asked me why the other kids at school eat animals and I tell her, "Because they don't realize how mean it is to eat them. They may understand in time, but until then, leave them alone and don't bug them about eating animals." She feels sorry for the other kids.

Be an example for your daughter as she grows. I think it won't be that big of a problem even if the older sister is eating non-vegan. Your daughter has you and your husband as models so I think she'll be in good shape.

There's a section of Raising Vegan Children in a Non-Vegan World that specifically addresses how to answer the tough questions. You may want to check out the book if you don't have it already.
veggielover's Avatar veggielover 06:33 PM 04-20-2004
Thanks Christy and Erin! You both gave great advice on this issue! I will definately try your idea, Christy, about getting 8 yr. old's help- I'm optimistic she will be helpful about the food issue. We already keep healthy " junk food" around, I also have some good recipes for vegan/healthy cookies, treats, etc. We try to do alot of smoothies with fresh fruit, which the 8 yr. old LOVES. I think you're right, Erin, a healthy role model is always the best teacher, and my little one will have two great ones (Dad and I) I plan to homeschool the little one (8 yr old goes to public school) which I think will assist a great deal in keeping pressure off until she has established a healthy education and outlook on veganism and the different lifestles in our society. And who knows--maybe the vegan adventure with the little one will set the groundwork for
changing the mindset (and eating habits) of the 8 yr. old ? I guess only time will tell. Thanks again to all who posted! God bless!