would you ask your children to go vegan? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 26 Old 08-24-2012, 03:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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In the past 6 months I have read so much overwhelming evidence in favour of eating a plant based diet that it is impossible to ignore.

I myself have followed a mostly plant based diet during that time, but DH is not really on board, thus we have meat and dairy in the house and with all meals.

I try and offer plenty of healthy, plant based alternatives for DD, age 4.5, but of course I can't stop her from eating the food DH eats nor do I feel it is right to preach against DHs diet.

She also eats lunch at DC with the other children (no one packs their lunch) which is meat or cheese based almost every day.  If DD brought her lunch to kindergarten she would be the only one and she would miss out on a wonderful social routine as the children help set the table and serve the food themselves.

I don't want to force her around to my way of thinking, but I also feel that I have a responsibility to raise a healthy child and I am concerned about what the statistics are showing about cancer, heart disease, etc for those who eat animal products.  In particular, DD drinks several glasses of milk a day and won't drink plant alternatives.

What do you other vegan mamas do about feeding your children, when other family members are not vegan?

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#2 of 26 Old 08-25-2012, 12:31 PM
 
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Originally Posted by heatherr30

What do you other vegan mamas do about feeding your children, when other family members are not vegan?



Luckily for me, I have the support of my husband and many other family members. However we do not have everyone's support and the vegans and vegetarians of the family are still outnumbered.



So I have a few "rules":

- In our home, it's vegan 100% of the time.

- At birthday parties and other social events with nonvegans, I allow lacto-ovo vegetarian choices. (my son has eaten cheese pizza a handful of times and nonvegan cupcakes at birthday parties. Other than that he eats vegan)

- We chose a school where everyone brings their own lunch so our children won't be "different". Also, that school offers water, not milk or juice.

- When family members who aren't vegan care for our children, we provide vegan meals but we know they won't always respect our wishes. So we just let them do their thing and hope for the best.



Also:

- We take regular family vacations to visit farmed animal sanctuaries so that we can all be reminded of why we're vegan. It reinvigorates our compassion for animals.

- Likewise, we read vegan-themed books and have regular discussions about eating animals.

- When our kids are old enough, we will teach them how to decline nonveg food respectfully and how to ask for vegan options. Right now we teach that through example by going out to eat at mainstream restaurants.



If I were transitioning children who were currently eating animals, I would start slow and small. For example, I'd have a Meatless Monday or something similar. And I would choose one thing to focus on at a time. For example, instead of trying to get them to go vegan all at once, I'd start by getting them to go dairy-free or to stop eating chickens.



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#3 of 26 Old 08-25-2012, 05:25 PM
 
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We're pretty much like marsupial mom at the moment.  We are still a work in progress as we have been at this for about 6 months as well.  My older ds is used to getting chocolate milk at starbucks and mac and cheese at restaurants and I'm not at a place where I want to force him to do anything.  He is basically unaware of the change in our diet.  Anyway we do 100% vegan at home and DH and I stay vegan while we're out.  DS is lacto ovo when out.  We are homeschooling so we don't have the school issue but again at friends' houses we stay lacto ovo.  

 

I'm not sure what I'd do if DH weren't on board.  It has taken him longer than it has taken me to give up cheese etc.  I think I would do what you are doing...sticking to it myself, providing the options, and hoping.  It is a tough one. 


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#4 of 26 Old 09-01-2012, 09:41 PM
 
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Could you do a vegan meal one night a week?  Would your dh go for that?  Our family is different in that our girls decided to be vegetarians at a young age, and dh and I have always supported that (we both eat fish). So, we eat a lot of all veggie meals in our house. 

 

The school thing is hard b/c the social aspect is really nice.  Perhaps focusing on dinners that have a lot of veggies or are vegan, with the meat as a "side" for your dh would help you achieve some of your goals, but still work well for your dh. 

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#5 of 26 Old 09-02-2012, 05:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you everyone for all your suggestions!  DH is getting more enthusiastic about cutting down (but not out 100%) on animal products and for the most part everyone is quite happily eating what they are served.  Our family is exploring the ethical and environmental reasons for not eating/using animal products as well as the health reasons I originally mentioned.  I told DD this weekend that we are going to start buying soy milk when the cows milk is gone.  So we've had a couple of days to talk about what's going to happen and some simple reasons why and also what DD can do when we are out and people offer it (I told her she can accept if she wants it).

So we are taking it nice and slow like you all said and once the milk is gone we will be eating 100% vegan at home except for when DH brings something home. I was previously cooking side dishes of meat like neptune mama mentioned but I stopped because I felt that after 6 months everyone is used to the vegan dishes now.  I think I am going to wait to explore options at the kindergarten, till Dd understands better what is going on at home. It took me 6 months to want to go public about eating vegan (until last week I would just eat what was on offer when I was out) so I guess I shouldn't be surprised if DD will need some time to feel comfortable with it, too.

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#6 of 26 Old 09-02-2012, 05:33 AM
 
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I have no really useful suggestions as I am going through the same thing. However my children are older (11, 9, and 7) and significantly more resistant to the idea of giving up dairy and eggs. Meat isn't so much of a problem because I rarely make it, but dh is an inveterate omnivore and has no interest whatsoever in going veg or vegan. In fact he is resistant and kind of makes fun of me. Oddly he is a surgeon who used to do bariatric surgery and is well aware of the health effects (although he is a very athletic triathlete with no issues like that at all) and is someone who does not trust the 'system' but yet has bought in hook, line, and sinker to the publicity of the meat and dairy industries. (I guess to be fair we have all been immersed in that since birth and it's a difficult paradigm to shift, but he won't even look at the stuff I have/research). Sigh.

 

My oldest is a vegetarian but lacto-ovo. My younger two don't seek out meat but like it when they get it (mainly at school lunches twice a week) and LOVE LOVE cheese, milk, etc. I don't really know what to do about it.


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#7 of 26 Old 09-25-2012, 09:09 PM
 
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After Fukushima, I read about radiation levels in milk so I stopped giving milk to my kids. I did buy some European or aged cheese sometimes. I wasn't strict about it. Like I would order pizza for schools hot lunches and would take my daughter out for pizza, which is her favourite. After a while, I started buying milk and regular cheese again thinking that radiation is everywhere any ways. And then I read China study. I am ever more convinced that I need to feed my family vegan diet. It is very hard with my kids (6 and 2yr old) because they are pretty picky. It is very hard to feed them a balanced vegan diet because they won't eat veggies or beans. Not only that, I found myself agonizing over what to do about kids social situations. She would be devastated if she doesn't get a weekly schools hot lunches. All hot lunches are mac and cheese, pizza, frozen yogurt, all dairy, as you know. And then playdates, birthdays.....

I feel very awkward saying that we don't eat dairy and meat to a mom who invited my daughter for a playdate. I kind of regretted saying it. You know parents can be very judgemental regarding kids health and diet. It seems easier to say my daughter is lactose intolerant. But that would be a lie and my daughter is old enough to know it....Vegetarians are pretty accepted in western countries but vegans are hard especially for kids who just want to fit in. If I allow dairy on social occasions, will it be harder to maintain at home? I found myself going back to the old diet when I started allowing one thing on occasions. 

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#8 of 26 Old 09-26-2012, 01:58 PM
 
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DH is a hard core meat eater.  I'm dairy free bc DD has a dairy sensitivity (although I had already been cow milk free for about 5yrs prior) and try to eat a veg heavy diet, going for only organic and free range meats/eggs, and wild caught fish.  DH should be GF as he has major sensitivities that mimic pre-diabetes, but he only follows it at home when I take over the shopping.  He's a firefighter and while working a 24hr shift, they rotate who makes the meal and he doesn't want to be 'that guy' who can't eat the same meal as everyone.  So in our home, we are 100% dairy free.  We're probably 90% GF - the 10% accounts mostly for beer bc GF beer isn't too appetizing ;-)  DD is 10mos, still nurses about 5x a day, and basically eats fruits, veggies, grains and legumes, with the occasional egg.  She has tried chicken and had some interesting poos afterwards so I backed off.  If we eat out, DH doesn't restrict himself in any way, I'm still dairy free, and DD will get what we bring for her or I'll order plain steamed veggies which she inhales.  In the future I suppose we'll try to guide her in ways to eat healthy but ultimatey it's her decision if she wants to eat meat.  I'm slowly (secretly?!) moving DH away from so much meat bc he is horribly unhealthy at the moment but highly resistant to change and easily stressed which leads to more bad eating....sigh, he's worse than a woman pms-ing!  I agree to doing things your way '100% at home" and letting things slide more while out of the house.  Luckily we do have a couple vegan friends, and at least my parents are on board with things so I've got some help in going this route.

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#9 of 26 Old 10-04-2012, 06:05 AM
 
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I'm a vegetarian. I occasionally eat cheese and eggs. With that being said, the other members of our fam all eat meat. The kids like it and they are very picky. My youngest will eat mostly veggies but I don't push anything. I offer them new things a lot but as far as asking all of them to follow my eating habits, I don't. DH would never go meat-free.

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#10 of 26 Old 10-15-2012, 07:23 PM
 
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I'm a vegetarian. ...DH would never go meat-free.

Same here. We have just the one child and he is too young to decide for himself. DH and I made an agreement that I wouldn't fret about the amount of meat that my son eats as long as he is in charge of it (I don't want in-laws feeding him steak, for instance, unless they have his permission. He mostly understands my stance on the health impacts of eating meat and does keep meat eating to a minimum.) I don't like it, but I knew my husband was omni when I married him. To deny him the right to raise his son his way seemed wrong to me, even though I wish we could all eat a mostly vegan diet. When Dane is old enough I hope he chooses vegetarianism or veganism, but I cannot push it on him because I believe it would be offensive and unfair to his dad. If we were all vegan, I would totally be a veggie pusher. thumb.gif


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#11 of 26 Old 10-20-2012, 11:34 AM
 
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I've raised my children veg from birth. However, DH is not vegetarian, although we are 100% vegetarian at home. So, if non-vegetarian food is not in the home, it's not an option. Would your DH go for veg at home, but eat meat when you go out? 


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#12 of 26 Old 10-20-2012, 02:03 PM
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I am a vegan and expecting my first child. I will not push vegetarianism or veganism on him - he can make his own decision. In our home we rarely have meat (dad is not veg), when it comes up I'll share why I don't choose to eat animal products, but others do. 

 

I grew up in a traditiional meat and potatoes home and from a very early age expressed a desire to abstain from meat. My parents were puzzled, but I am so grateful they respected me enough to let me make my own decision. 


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#13 of 26 Old 10-20-2012, 02:28 PM
 
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no i would not. i feel it's up to them if they want to eat meat or not.  i will buy and prepare meat for them but the dinners i cook for DH and me are vegetarian. 


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#14 of 26 Old 10-20-2012, 11:14 PM
 
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I grew up in a traditiional meat and potatoes home and from a very early age expressed a desire to abstain from meat. My parents were puzzled, but I am so grateful they respected me enough to let me make my own decision. 

That's pretty cool! It doesn't seem like a lot of parents would be able to appreciate that request from their young child. My parents probably would have dubbed it "a phase" and dealt with it for a minute, but deflect the issue with humor.


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#15 of 26 Old 10-22-2012, 06:32 AM
 
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DH and I used to be vegetarian, then didn't cook meat at home for a long time, so when my DD1 asked to be vegetarian, we accommodated that pretty easily. She eats fish occasionally. DH has also developed some level of lactose intolerance, but DD2 and I eat both meat and dairy. So, our meals vary widely anywhere from BBQ ribs to vegan and lots of meat-on-the-side, cheese-on-the-side kind of meals. As we've experimented with various ways of eating, we haven't "converted" the kids, I guess because nothing except "omnivore" has stuck. I guess my outlook at this point is not to put a label on myself (vegetarian, nutritarian, dieter, etc.) or the family that sets us up for "failure"  if we don't stick to it, and go ahead and eat as healthily as we can, e.g. big salad or veg plate with every dinner, lots of vegan meals worked in, fruit for a snack, etc.


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#16 of 26 Old 10-22-2012, 04:01 PM
 
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I've raised my son vegan since birth. Both his father and I are vegan as well, though we have since separated. MY SO is vegetarian and we do not allow meat in the house. If my son wishes to consume meat/animal products once he's older that's fine but it won't be prepared in the home. 


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#17 of 26 Old 10-22-2012, 05:01 PM
 
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I've raised my son vegan since birth. Both his father and I are vegan as well, though we have since separated. MY SO is vegetarian and we do not allow meat in the house. If my son wishes to consume meat/animal products once he's older that's fine but it won't be prepared in the home. 

this is.us.too we are Veg in the home but it is their choice outside the home. (i still wont buy it for.them but if they are at a friends for dinner)

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#18 of 26 Old 10-24-2012, 04:17 PM
 
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I have raised DD vegan from birth.  DH is an omni but not a hardcore meat eater.  Home is 100% vegan.  I am slowly talking to DD about why we eat differently than other people and trying to help her understand compassion.  However, I don't want her to have nightmares about factory farms. I hope she follows in my footsteps throughout her life, but the choice will be hers.  I'm happy that I am able to give her a solid foundation in eating healthy plant based non-processed food.  


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#19 of 26 Old 10-24-2012, 04:43 PM
 
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I keep all the food in our house vegan, and we talk about why we don't buy vegan food at the store. When we go to a picnic, birthday party, restaurant.... we let the kids decide whether they would like to eat meat or not.


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#20 of 26 Old 10-26-2012, 09:52 AM
 
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I wouldn't ask my child to. In my opinion your kid should be able to choose, especially since not all your family members are vegan. It would likely seem unfair if you forced it on her, and as a vegan myself I'd hate for this decision to be viewed in negative light. YMMV, of course.
 


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#21 of 26 Old 10-26-2012, 10:28 AM
 
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no i would not. i feel it's up to them if they want to eat meat or not.  i will buy and prepare meat for them but the dinners i cook for DH and me are vegetarian. 

 

If you give it to them and prepare it for them, it isn't their choice though.  You're making the choice for them.  If anything wouldn't it be more ideal to have the baseline be a veg diet and let them choose IF they want to eat animals?

 

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I wouldn't ask my child to. In my opinion your kid should be able to choose, especially since not all your family members are vegan. It would likely seem unfair if you forced it on her, and as a vegan myself I'd hate for this decision to be viewed in negative light. YMMV, of course.
 

 

See I don't see raising kids to be vegan as any different than raising them with your own religious beliefs.  When you believe that something is right and ethical, you teach that to your children and hope they learn to see the whys and hows, and choose that path for themselves as they grow older.  Of course it's tricky.  It's tricky to navigate with religion as well.  But when you feel passionately about something, I think it's perfectly fine to pass that passion, and in this case, compassion, for animals and all life, down to your children.

 

My DH and I are vegan and both of our children are being raised the same.  No exceptions as they are still very young (4 and 1).  I do think it's going to get harder as they get older, and venture out into the world themselves.  That's why teaching them the compassion part and ethics of veganism is so important.  Marsupial - I think the idea of visiting farm sanctuaries is a wonderful idea. I'm going to start doing that with my children as well.  

 

OP - honestly I just explain why we make these choices.  Some people drink cows milk, we don't.  Some people eat animals, we don't.  My DD is starting to get more curious and my answers are getting a little more complex these days, but the heart of the answer is the same.  We just don't believe it is right to use animals for food.  We have plenty of other healthy things to eat, so we choose to eat those things instead.


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#22 of 26 Old 10-26-2012, 11:10 AM
 
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For parties and treats, I keep frosted cupcakes in my freezer most of the time, so I can make sure that a vegan cupcake is available. As for most other places where my daughter might feel left out, I keep a small package of some sort of vegan treat with me - Joe-Joe's, a tiny dark chocolate bar, a lollipop, something like that.

 

My daughter is a life-long vegetarian, she went vegan by her own choice on her 5th birthday, followed quickly by her dad (I gave up egg and dairy when she was about 3), right around the time we started being able to get Daiya regularly in this area. I encouraged this, but did not force it.

 

Now, that said, even with advance planning and the best intentions, Dandies marshmallows don't come in a fist-sized version, and sometimes, she decides that she really wants to have the same stuff as a friend. And that's okay with me.
 

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#23 of 26 Old 10-26-2012, 07:16 PM
 
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In your situation I would probably not ask my kids to go vegan. We are a vegetarian home and that was an easy decision for us because DH and I are both vegetarians and have been for awhile. I'm mostly vegan but eat eggs occasionally (like when pregnant and nursing) because I find my body functions better with that sort of protein. But both DH and my boys love dairy and eggs. From the start DH and I decided that we didn't want to mandate a specific diet for our kids. So we have a veggie home and if they are exposed to meat outside of the home and want to eat it, they can. But this is a tricky way to go, too. DS1 is very curious about why we don't eat meat (since becoming aware that some of his friends do) and I chose to be honest with him about why I am vegetarian. He therefor has no interest in eating animals. And part of me feels guilty like I brainwashed him, even though I was pretty evenhanded about it. DS2 has expressed interest in eating meat... but I really, really don't want to bring meat into the house. I think I'll just wait and see how he feels when he's older. I would only feed my kids humane/organic meat and that's pricey and very much outside of our budget right now anyway.

 

My mom is vegetarian and cooked mostly veggie food for us, but would cook meat for us when asked. And it was usually terrible (really dry chicken or porkchops) so we didn't ask too often! She never made a big issue out of it. My dad (they were divorced) eats meat so my sister and I were exposed to it from him. And what do you know, both my sis and I grew up to be vegetarians.


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#24 of 26 Old 11-04-2012, 05:37 AM
 
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I've been vegetarian for a VERY long time, since before my children were born.  All 3 of them were raised vegetarian until their 2nd birthdays or so before they tried meat because at that point I knew they could safely chew small bites of meat.  They all decided of their own accord to eat meat as part of their diet so while I do make vegetarian meals frequently, I also provide meat several times a week.  I only buy them "healthy" meat and if the budget isn't there for it, I don't buy meat.  End of discussion.  If they want meat, they will eat small quantities of antibiotic free, hormone free, organic, air-chilled chicken or grass-fed beef.  We've had discussions about why I am vegetarian and they know WHY we buy meat the way we do but it's still their choice to consume meat products and I won't make it for them.  I know the argument was made in this thread that it's no different than raising your child with your religious beliefs and I 100% agree.  But for that matter, my children have been raised with knowledge of ALL religions.  The only one they participate in is their father's Baptist church and of their own choosing.  Again, in the same text, I don't feel it's right for me to make such a personal choice FOR THEM and so I give them the knowledge and follow their lead.  1 of my 3 believes in God but all enjoy services on holidays.  1 of my 3 LOVES meat, one is so-so on it, and 1 is extremely picky and could easily give up meat without a glance back.  So I just think it's my job to give them the tools and information they need to make their own mind up about personal matters.  I think I've given them a strong basis for morality on both issues by exposing them to all  options.


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#25 of 26 Old 11-05-2012, 03:39 PM
 
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complicated personal story - but no i did not ask my dd to be vegetarian. but she went through the meat eating phase and then decided she's rather be vegetarian.

 

it helps that she has been cooking dinner since she was 8.


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#26 of 26 Old 11-18-2012, 03:24 PM
 
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Not all, but most children just already love animals. They have farm-theme toys and books, they love "Old MacDonald", many babies' first words are kitty and doggie. Children are quick-minded, it doesn't take them long to put it together that the meat "chicken" is called chicken because it's a dead chicken. If given the choice, most children would have no part of that. Most children are appalled that anyone would ever kill or hurt an animal for any reason. I don't see what the problem would be.

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