Your Thoughts Thursday: Vegan Children

October 21, 2010 by Keri

Back in June, we discussed raising vegan children.  I’ve had quite a few people raise the discussion topic since that post, so I thought it would be a great time to revisit it.  Maybe last time you weren’t confident enough in your response to share it, perhaps your opinion has changed, or possibly you weren’t even a reader yet, but it’s interesting ground for a discussion, so share your thoughts now!

When it comes to children, new parents quickly realize it’s more than just bringing a new family member into their lives.  There are so many decisions to be made- schools of thought on how do everything from diapering to sleeping, schooling to diet, and everything in between.  Some tirelessly research every possible option, while others just wing it or go with what comes naturally.  No matter what decision any parent makes, there seems to be someone (or many someones) who think it’s the wrong one.  One thought provoking question I’ve seen brought up countless times among vegans and nonvegans alike is, why do so many vegans choose not to raise their children vegan?  Sure, kids are going to develop a will of their own, but for a few years, parents are in charge of what goes on their plates, into their bodies, and into their minds. So my question is, Will you raise your children vegan?

  • If you have children, do you maintain your vegan diet with them or do you feed them a more “mainstream” diet?
  • Why did you make the decision you did?
  • Do you think it’s important to let children participate in social events revolving around food- pizza parties, ice cream socials, birthday cake?
  • Do relatives and friends have concerns about how you choose to feed your children?
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I Eat Trees is a blog featuring my adventures in all things vegan. My favorite recipes, snack food finds, and restaurant trials are all on the menu so enjoy!

Comments

  1. brian says:

    my situation is interesting. i have a 10 mo. old son whom my wife and i are raising vegan. we only turned vegan this year (april). i have 2 kids (8 and 10) who are not vegetarian, nor is there mother. the challenge is keeping one, and not the other. what to feed everyone, etc. at 10 mo. its pretty easy. i see the challenge really coming a few years out. i could fill up your comment space but i’ll end it there :)

  2. cleaninggirl says:

    I have to be honest here I hope to raise my children vegan or at the very least vegetarian I don’t want them to be meat eaters even if it involves me restricing where they go – which I don’t want to do. I think if I educate my child in why it’s important to not eat certain foods because animals are our friends not our food then I shouldn’t have to restrict my children I don’t want to be a mean Mom.
    I feel kinda out of my depth here as I don’t have children do but my siblings have children and have seen how children really make their own decisions on what they want to eat.

  3. Megan says:

    Our children are vegan. Interestingly enough our daughter prompted our switch from a semi vegetarian diet to vegan. She raised the question about where meat comes from and stated she no longer wanted to eat it. As a Family we decided to investigate veganism and try it out. My Husband and I educated ourselves on how to raise vegan children. We have never looked back. Initially the kids would still eat occasional dairy or egg products at school or parties but after visiting Farm Sanctuary they both made their minds up that they would be vegan all the time. I bake treats now for them on these special occasions. I’m always so proud to hear them explain to others what vegan is. They are super healthy and get good approval from our Family Dr. As for nay Sayers, we do occasionally field questions from nonsupportive Family but they quickly quiet down when the Childrens overall health is proven.
    I love that my Children are growing up compassionate, healthful and aware of how their eating affects the planet and all it’s beings.

  4. Jaime says:

    I have often wondered that myself about vegans not raising their children vegan. Even people who are vegan for personal health reasons, wouldn’t they want to pass that health onto their children? I know that children can be difficult to feed, but surely there’s acceptable vegan sources?

    I don’t have children and I realize that I am completely ill-equipped to know, but at this point I will not purchase any meat or dairy products, and thus would raise my child vegan.

    However, I would not deny my child health care that he or she might need. I often seek out natural remedies for myself that “require” no animal testing, but children have weaker immune systems than adults. I wouldn’t want to fool around there.

  5. Kelly says:

    First let me say that I don’t have children so my response may not be fair. My BFF is raising her child vegan. She hasn’t done a lick of research on how to give her proper nutrition. She hasn’t sought the help of a nutritionist even though she lives in NYC with probably the greatest resources. So in my opinion if you are going to raise your children vegan or even vegetarian I think you need to do some research on how to give them all the nutrients they need as growing kids. I know that if I did decide to have children that I would want to raise them vegan. I don’t know if my husband would agree since he’s not veg at all.

  6. stephanie a. says:

    I raise this question (to myself) every day. I don’t have kids, and my husband is not vegan, but I run a small preschool program for twelve children and our snacks and meals are vegan (for the most part). Parents want to see milk on the menu, so we offer cheese occasionally, but I feel that before taking dairy completely out of the menu, I need to train our cook on how to incorporate healthy fats (needed for brain development in children) into their diet. One of the children is from a vegan family and he is our healthiest child…rarely stays home sick (maybe twice a year compared to other kids who get sick every couple of months). I hadn’t even put two and two together before typing this. Hmmm….

  7. Kelley says:

    I am a vegan and am currently raising my nephew. He is fed vegan food in my home and I send him to school with vegan lunch, however he is not restricted from any non-vegan food at restaurants or other people’s homes. He has just turned eight, and has been with me for about a year and a half. Before that, he happily at ethe vegan food served to him when he was visiting. I do hope that he will someday choose to be vegetarian or vegan, but for now, I just try to feed him the best food possible. It would be easier if he would eat more veggies, but he does eat well. He has not been sick other than a little sniffle since he has lived with me. I have a problem with people who assume that vegan children are being denied nutrients, because I feel that most (admittedly not all, but most) vegans are focused on a healthy lifestyle with nutritious food. I work with children and the lunches I see brought by the meat-eating children astound me on a daily basis. Since when is chicken nuggets and pudding an acceptable meal? Or the lunch a child had today: a hot dog (no bread or condiments), salami, cheeze-its, and yogurt? I feel that ALL parents need to learn about nutrition, whether they are vegan or not.

  8. Jessica says:

    I have been vegetarian for over a year, very strict (almost vegan) for about 3 months now. I stopped cooking meat for my son (7 years old) when I went veg but he continued to eat it at other family members houses. He then made the decision 6 months ago to go vegetarian and has been going strong ever since! He struggles with understanding the cruelty connect to eggs/cheese/milk/honey and I struggle to explain them without showing graphic videos (he is not emotionally capable of handling that). He often asks me why I choose not to eat those things, so the curiosity is there, and I do believe he will make that switch on his own soon. He is proud to be a vegetarian and loves to talk to people about it! He has never had any issues at social gatherings, other than slimmer pickings. But he has never complained. I have gotten the whole, protein and iron line of questioning, but when I point out his growth rate (which is off the charts), his intellectual achievements, and the fact that he has not been sick in a long time, they usually step back.

  9. Raven =) says:

    When the time comes for me to have children, I will probably just “wing” it. Obviously I think it’s necessary to research children’s dietary needs and figure out how to veganize them but when it boils down to it children are children are children. There will be a point where timmy wants to know why he can’t eat susie’s birthday cake or why he can’t share popcorn with his friends at the movies and accidents will happen and events will come up. I will attempt to explain as best as possible why I feel it is wrong to eat animal by-products and hope that they will feel the same way, but if not I wont force it upon them. However I may opt to not cook for them once they’re older ;).

  10. Tricia says:

    I think i will raise my children vegan because i think it’s pretty easy to eat vegan and when social gatherings come around, i’ll just bake them a little treat or i can bring some soy ice cream or something to like an ice cream party, and then i can educate people on veganism and stuff which should be fun :) maybe..
    I personally don’t think i’d be depriving my kids of any nutrients because i don’t think i’m deprived and i’m still considered a ‘kid’.

  11. I will most likely raise my child with a mostly vegan diet. The girl i love now is not a vegan (which is why i hope you post about vegan and non-vegan relationships sometime :) ) so of course if she feeds my child something, i will not make a big deal about it. But at the same time, i will teach him about how meat is an unstable compound and we should put fresh veggies and fruits in his diet. I will help him learn that veganism isn’t just a plate of raw vegetables, and that it is fun to work with.

    And i will also share with him this blog. You give so much insightful information i hope he enjoys as much as i do :)

  12. Anna says:

    My older son was just over a year old when I went vegan from being vegetarian, he was vegetarian and stayed that way until his Father and I split up about two and a half years ago. At that point everything he had at home was vegan but when he was with his Dad or at school he did have vegetarian things. About a year ago after lots of talking and looking at information he made the decision that he wanted to be vegan all the time (he’s 7 now) and although he still does get upset that he can’t have ice creamb or other non-vegan junk food after we talk it through he is fine with it. It took a while for his Dad to realise that he was serious and was upset that he wasn’t being given vegan food and to make the change to feed him that way (he’s a pescetarian) but got there in the end.

    My younger son has been vegan since birth except for 1 thing of cows milk formula after I read on the soya formula that it wasn’t suitable for preemies (both my kids refused to breastfeed no matter what I tried sadly). By the time I had him I was more confident in my diet so felt that I could have a vegan child. Oddly their Dad would feed the 1 vegetarian and the other vegan when they were with him, I have never understood his reasoning…

    I read about vegan diets for kids and try to make sure that they get a varied diet full of wholegrains and vegetables and I also give them a multi vitamin and DHA each day. They are both doing well on it and although sometimes I do worry that they aren’t getting enough of something I know that compared to the packaged food diets of many children they are eating incredibly healthily.

    Sorry to go on so long, but as I said it’s something that I think about each day when preparing food for them!

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