The truth is, we vegan mums are a minority. We’re going against the grain and it can be difficult. There are always those who find the choices we have made in raising our kids offensive and I know I’m not the only one to have been on the receiving end of hostile reactions.
So I have decided to dedicate a column to giving you all a little pick-me-up for when you’re having ‘one of those days’.
The key, I have found, is not to dwell on the things you are depriving your children of, but to focus on what you are giving them!
Vegan literature focuses on the three main benefits of embracing veganism and these reasons are as valid for children as they are for adults. So here they are, the three ways vegan parents teach their children better:
This is the most obvious, and as some would argue, the only valid reason for becoming vegan.
As responsible parents we spend a great deal of time teaching our children about morality; right and wrong, good and evil, good choices and bad. We drum it into them: it’s wrong to hit, it’s good to share, we don’t hurt each other, we don’t steal…the list goes on.
As I see it, veganism is merely an extension of this.
We teach our children to be kind to other people. We even teach them to be kind to animals. Don’t throw stones at the ducks in the pond. Be gentle when you’re stroking the pet bunny.
All we’re doing is taking it a step further. Be kind to all creatures, those we share our homes with, those in the field and those in the wild.
In fact, not only are we teaching compassion but we are also showing our children that you should not be a hypocrite and that your actions should mirror your morals.
Ah yes, our children’s health; one of the many things that preoccupies a mother’s mind and keeps her up at night. Is that rash just down to teething or something more sinister? Are they putting on enough weight? Or are they putting on too much? How do I get them to eat their veggies? It’s a minefield, whatever you choose to feed your kids.
You’ve probably noticed that in recent years we seem to be failing our children in the health stakes. Childhood obesity is on the rise, more and more children are being diagnosed with diabetes. The headline that has struck fear into all our hearts is that our children’s generation will be the first expected to die before their parents. Chilling stuff.
So here’s the good news. While a vegan diet is not foolproof and no guarantee of perfect health, it is an excellent place to start. A well planned plant based diet is ideal for all stages of life – including childhood. Most vegan children eat an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, pulses, healthy grains and ‘good’ fats such as those found in olive oil and avocados. And because vegan ready meals are not readily available, your average vegan child will be brought up on home cooked meals, prepared from scratch with fresh ingredients.
Time and time again, studies have shown that our eating habits are established from a very early age so by providing your child with a diet as described above, you are hopefully setting them up not only for a healthy childhood but for a healthy future too. Now that’s something to be proud of!
Last but not least, the environment is one of the most relevant reasons for becoming vegan, particularly in the current climate (pun intended). Escalating world population, starvation, climate change, natural resources running low. It’s all a bit doom and gloomy, I know. Luckily, veganism is a huge step in the right direction when it comes to environmental issues.
Without being too much of a drama queen, how we treat the world in the next few years/decades, will determine the fate of humanity. Ok, there was an element of drama queen there but you have to admit that I have a point. After all, it may be our children and grandchildren who have to deal with the fallout from our wasteful behaviour long after we’re gone.
So do we teach our kids that we can just stick with the current mentality of ‘use now, pay later’ or do we teach them to respect the planet, to work with Mother Nature rather than against her?
Leading by example, we can hopefully show our children how to preserve the planet we rely on for life – and that surely is the greatest thing we can do for our kids.
So the next time someone belittles you for your lifestyle choice or accuses you of bad parenting, think about the wonderful things you are teaching your children. Just try not to look too smug!Cover image: Shutterstock.