Protecting my daughter (age one at this time) from eating artificial sugars and completely processed foods, even if they technically are vegan, is so important to me. Not only am I an ethical vegan, but I am also vegan for my HEALTH and I think we all know that so many diseases are caused by artificial and processed foods. Especially in America, childhood obesity is at an outstanding number, it is so incredibly sad and it is definitely not the child’s fault. Certain department stores have even added a Plus Size section for children now… children! That is a huge red flag to prove that there is a serious problem with the ‘mainstream’ lifestyles these days. It is not uncommon for me to hear that I am “depriving her”, that i’m “being too strict” and I need to “let her live.” This always gets to me, because it’s completely a matter of opinion. A person may think I am be unfair to my daughter, when in fact my husband and I agree that our daughter has an abundance of amazing options that will only benefit her. There is an old saying that goes “a moment on the lips, forever on the hips” and while I don’t agree with this saying, I do agree with the concept itself. A few minutes of what might taste good to you, meant a lifetime of suffering for another animal and could mean a lifetime of disease for you. It just doesn’t make sense to me, it’s not worth it. Sugary, processed and animal foods are terrible for you and certainly do NOT make me feel good. So, in my view, I am in fact doing my daughter a favour. She will grow up loving whole plant foods that are disease fighting and will make her feel amazing.
It’s important to address that you do not have to miss out on events, parties and gatherings just because you are vegan. Although, I have said ‘no’ to events we have been invited to where I was going to have to pay to attend, and in return be served an animal based meal. Even though I wasn’t planning to eat the food, in my opinion, you are still ‘paying for a plate’. Regardless of whether or not you eat it, your portion of animal product was paid for and will either be eaten by someone else or go in the trash.
When we are going someones house where food will be served, I will find out beforehand what everyone else is planning to eat and make a healthy, vegan version of that for us. I bring large appetizers, meals, and even desserts that can be shared and enjoyed by everyone. If we are going out to eat, I will often look at the menu ahead of time, so I know what the vegan options are. There’s not too many restaurants with completely plant based options, however, they are becoming way more popular and I hope to see them continuing to pop up! It is so easy to ‘veganize’ restaurant meals these days though, and I have found most chefs to be really accommodating. Norah is only just over a year now, so she doesn’t realize yet, but I will never let her feel left out or deprived. I often get asked if we will ever let her eat animal products, or processed/sugary items. As she gets older, she will be taught exactly where this so-called ‘food’ comes from. Not in a scary or intimidating way, but I will definitely not lie to my daughter about what exactly a burger is, or how it got there. We already have a few children’s books about where animal products really come from, and why it’s important to be kind to animals. I do not purchase any meat, eggs or dairy, our home is vegan friendly and will be kept that way. So, I really don’t have an answer to that question and I feel it is one of those things that we will address if it comes up. My hope is to raise her so lovingly and well informed, that she will be just as opposed to eating that way as I am. This is related to a topic I wrote for the website ‘Raise Vegan’, called “Forcing Veganism?” That article can be found here: https://raisevegan.com/forcing-veganism-is-it-really-forcing-your-kids-to-be-vegan/
Unfortunately, the situation does come up on occasion where a friend or family member may try to feed your child something that you absolutely do not want them to have. Especially if your child is too young to speak up for themselves, or know any better, it is important to be aware of who is around and what they might try and offer your little one. Be nice, but make it very clear that you do not want your baby to consume that. Do not be afraid to stand up for your child, because one day your child may have to stand up for themselves in a similar situation. You are their mother, and you know what is best for them, and how you want them to be raised. I think sometimes people don’t understand just how important it is to you that your family sticks to a HEALTHY plant based lifestyle (just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean its healthy). People may perceive this lifestyle as being like a ‘mainstream diet’; something that you try your best to follow, but are willing to cheat on. While this may be the case for some (in which case, the person really isn’t vegan, are they?) this is NOT case for me, and it could not be further from the truth. I am so passionate about living this way and continuing to raise my daughter as such, that if someone were to deliberately give my child something they knew I didn’t want her to have, it would be one of the biggest disrespects and do long term damage to our relationship.
Never have I thought that I am better, or a bigger person for being plant based, and I never want anyone to feel as though I am looking down on them. Being kind, and accepting is something I always try to be, regardless of the lifestyle choices of others. My hope is that they reciprocate, and are just as kind and accepting about my lifestyle choice, and how we choose to raise our daughter; as a health whole foods vegan.