Let me just preface this with a small but probs important fact: I don’t have children.
I do have a dependent, and she is vegan.
She’s a rabbit though, so you’d assume.
She’s also a vegan by design, though not necessarily by choice because she has to eat what I give her. Having known her for almost all of her nine years, I’m confident in my assertions that Isobel would have a good crack at eating ANYTHING, animal, vegetable or mineral.
I don’t have any human children.
Er, I don’t really like them.
That’s it. That’s the reason.
Also, I like to go for long days out and nap on the sofa and do what I like without being bothered by a kid. I assume if I liked them more, that’d be less of an issue, but I don’t, so we’ll stick to a rabbit for now.
Maybe one day we’ll get a dog (not a cat – much as I love them they tend to eat birds and get run over a lot) but for now, a rabbit best suits our lifestyle.
This will not be a post on the ideal diet for vegan children (kids vary a lot, from what I’ve heard), but more about debunking the myths that surround raising vegan children. So, on let’s crack:
Myth #1: by raising vegan children, you’re enforcing your beliefs on them
Ok, this isn’t a myth.
Because, er, parenting is all about enforcing your beliefs on your kids.
If you believe that being vegan is the right approach to life, then, of course, you should raise your children as vegans.
It would be weird not to.
Meat eaters are as guilty of enforcing their beliefs about diet on their children as vegans.
The only reason that vegan parents are accused of ‘enforcing their beliefs’ is that non-vegans think that being vegan is an extreme and restrictive lifestyle.
I remember the first time I learned about Amish people. I couldn’t believe that parents were allowed to raise their kids in such an old-fashioned way but here’s the thing:
- It is absolutely none of my business and doesn’t affect my life at all so why the fuck do I deserve an opinion on how someone else raises their kids.
- It is a different lifestyle. Not a worse one. Different people have different values. My exposure to technology does not make my life better than anyone else’s. As long as everyone’s happy and healthy it. Doesn’t. Matter.
Myth #2 kids need cow’s milk and meat protein to grow big and strong
Humans are mammals and produce their own milk to feed their offspring.
Cows have nothing to do with it.
If you can’t or don’t want to breastfeed (one of the bonuses of being as intelligent as we are is that humans can have such an option), there are plant-based infant formulas.
According to this article, we don’t drink cow’s milk because it’s like human milk, or it’s nutritious or anything like that. It’s because ***klaxon*** it’s the most efficient animal milk to produce.
SHOCKING I KNOW.
Cows are also fairly docile compared to goats and sheep, which are always looking for new and exciting ways to die by, for example, attempting to scale a barbed wire fence.
Kids do need calcium (who doesn’t?) but if they have a varied diet and eat lots of tofu, fortified milk and cereal, fruit and veg, they’ll be fine.
Myth #3: they’ll be teased at school
Again, not really a myth (I’m not good at this, am I?), but kids do get teased. It’s life. Kids are little shit.
If they’re not teased for being vegan, they’ll get teased for something else, for example having a surname like Cocker.
Not that I got teased though, because I was a weirdly tall child. I’m a very average 5″8 now, but I’ve not grown since I was about eleven. My mum used to lie in bed at night worrying that I’d be 8 feet tall.
How handy would that have been?
Nowadays there are so many vegan alternatives (especially of the junk food variety) that your kid won’t miss out on all the crap kids eat.
Myth #4: kids won’t eat healthy food
I wasn’t raised vegan (or even veggie but my parents won’t eat crappy meat and didn’t have much money so we only really ate small amounts of beef mince and the occasional chicken) but I have always eaten my veggies.
It’s all about not making a big deal about feeding (according to my mum – again, I don’t have kids).
We were allowed to not like a couple of things – my brother choose not to eat broccoli or mushrooms – but by and large, we were expected to clear our plates and not make a palava out of dinnertime.
My mum used to puree her meals for us weeny babies so we all ate the same.
Packaged baby foods have their place (i.e. travelling, hungover – you, not the baby) but they are often sweeter and saltier than homemade food.
This can make some kids pickier about eating regular boring veg ALTHOUGH they’ve probably come a long way since I was a baby.
I’d mention my own vegetable eating experiences as a child, but I ate anything and everything as a kid. Up to and including cat food.
Stinky blue cheese? 3 year old me couldn’t get enough of the stuff.
Mushrooms? Yes please, preferably on toast.
I was a weird kid.
So to answer the question I posed at the start of this post, yes, it is perfectly possible to raise a happy and healthy child on a vegan diet.
In fact, they’ll probably end up getting more exposure to different foods because vegan parents will be more cautious about their child’s nutritional needs a) because they’re concerned about their kid’s welfare and b) because everyone will be so ready to judge whenever the poor kid sneezes.
Yes, there are articles published about malnourished vegan kids in the paper, but that’s only because it sells papers – starving omnivores are old news, I’m afraid.
For the billionth time, I’ll reiterate that I don’t have kids.
From what I’ve heard, it ain’t easy. If you want to raise your kid vegan, absolutely go for it.
Yes, you need to make sure your kid’s nutritional needs are met but so do all parents.
All those kids living on takeaways and fast food aren’t automatically healthy just because they eat meat.
Raising a vegan child is setting them up to be a compassionate and potentially extremely healthy adult. And Christ, do we need more of them.