I recently had to rethink my position on raising my family vegan. When I first went vegan, my kids did not. After a couple years, I began feeding them more vegan foods, such as: vegan meats, cereals, and almond milk. But, I still fed them eggs, cheese, and the occasional chicken. So, even though, I felt the best diet for me was to exclude animal foods, I was still feeding these foods to my children as though they had some kind of an ironclad immune system.
Who am I to deprive my kids of the occasional cheese pizza or ice cream?
At least, I’m only giving them cheese and eggs for the most part.
When they get older, they can choose whether or not they want to eat vegan?
These are the arguments I told myself. And, I still believe that reducing their amount of animal foods was a good start, but I can no longer argue that it’s enough.
So, what provoked my switch?
My dad sent me a youtube video of James Wildman giving a presentation on “101 Reasons to Go Vegan.” I watched it a few times because I enjoyed how he presented veganism. As someone who also shares the benefits of veganism to those interested, I was studying his approach. After the 3rd or 4th time watching it, it finally hit me!
We choose the story that we decide to pass on to our children.
I could continue to tell my kids the story that it’s okay to eat animal foods and let them choose a different story when they get older. Or, I could teach them that we do not eat animals but instead we eat grains, vegetables, and fruit and let them decide to choose the animal foods story later, if they want to. Does it make a difference which story they start with?
Personally, I believe a plant-based diet is the optimal diet for health and I understand that we can get every nutrient and vitamin we need from plants. Choosing one diet over the other was not about getting them everything they need. For me, it came down to two things:
Do I want to teach them to eat for their health or pleasure?
And, do I want to start from a place of compassion?
I did not tell my children to smoke and then hope that they decide when they get older whether or not they want to continue to smoke or do they do what is healthy. I know smoking is bad for their health and can cause future health conditions and illnesses. So, I teach them now as children not to smoke and reinforce healthy habits. Diet, is another healthy habit I can teach and reinforce now to help protect them. Just as any other parent, I do not want my children to suffer and if I could do something to help reduce their chances of suffering, then I will. I am fortunate enough to be in a position where I have the physical and financial means to provide my children with healthy food options; therefore, I should.
Along with healthy habits, I also teach my children respect and compassion for others. As parents, we guide our children based on our culture, religion, and life experiences. One of my beliefs as a vegan is that all animals deserve compassion just like any other being. A cow deserves as much respect as a dog. I might not be considering adopting a cow to have at my home, but I do not wish to kill it either. A cow’s life has value. I could tell my children the story that some animal lives deserve to live while others do not or I could choose to tell my children all animals feel pain and joy; therefore, we should not kill them.
After reviewing these thoughts, I have decided to tell my children the story that we eat for our health and we show compassion to all animals. If they choose to have a different diet, religion, or life philosophy than me when they get older, then that will be their choice, but I believe this is the best starting point for us.
Disclaimer: This is written to share my experience and persepctive. It is not to convince you to go vegan or raise your children vegan. I believe most parents are doing what they feel is in the best interest of their family. If this helps sparks some curiosity on veganism, DOPE! If not, all good. Blessings to all!