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Myths that people tell vegan parents

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Thanks to Vegan Sidekick for the photo!

Making the decision as vegan to parent your children to also be vegans is a natural extension of the lifestyle, and a fantastic way to bring up compassionate, free-thinking children. Having discussions about the way we treat animals from an early age, and teaching kids how to live out their opinions, ethics, and morals is a challenge that is well worth undertaking.

Unfortunately, many people don’t take kindly to the idea of raising a vegan child. A lack of education about the lifestyle and a culture that encourages animal abuse might make the in-laws, coworkers, or family friends give you a funny look and rattle off a few myths about vegan parenting that are all easy to break down. Here are just a few statements I’ve heard about bringing a child into the vegan lifestyle.

You’re forcing your beliefs on them!

Okay, so is living in a house, watching the news, involving yourself in their education, and making children eat meat. There is no difference between “pushing” veganism and pushing meat eating, as both come with a certain framework for how we think of the world around us. It’s a parent’s job to provide a moral framework for their children and tell them what they value as a family, and if those values include “treat animals like they matter,” then yes, parents should sure as hell include that in family discussions.  I plan on raising my children to be kind to people outside of their race, gender, and sexual orientation, is that also a pushing of values, or is that simply teaching them human decency?

Veganism is something to include children in, not thrust upon them. Restricting a child’s diet for the sake of restricting their diet is one thing, but successful vegan parenting and mentorship also comes with having hard discussions about why our society operates in the way that it does. Veganism is an entire lifestyle, not just a way of eating, and it causes us to ask big questions and consider what we think of as being kind, good, and just. It’s an excellent belief to have, it literally saves lives, so why not share those values as a family unit?

They’re missing out on zoos and aquariums!

Believe it or not, there are ways to research, learn about, and respect both animals and nature that don’t involve seeing animals in captivity. All they’re missing out on is seeing non-human creatures existing in unnatural habitats and sometimes even displaying unhealthy behaviors because of it. In order to appreciate the beauty of a certain animal, use books and multimedia instead, and as they get older, encourage them to learn all they can about the animal world. None of this requires a zoo and all the oogling that comes with it.

Other kids are going to think they’re weird.

Kids are going to call kids weird over literally anything. This is not an exaggeration. The kids are going to be all right, okay? How is this even an argument?!

They need animal proteins to live!

Oh, now this is just silly. Sure, if you’re feeding your child a diet of entirely cashew milk and pita bread, they’re going to cease to develop properly. Just like any of us would examine nutrition before making the vegan change themselves, it’s an imperative that parents get in the know about vegan nutrition. Luckily, there are tons of resources for that! (like to pcrm guide) You’re not the first parent to raise a vegan family, and you certainly won’t be the last, so the vegan lifestyle is definitely one that responsible and compassionate nutritionists will provide information on as it pertains to children. Vegan child can grow and thrive, and even end up healthier than their meat and animal product eating peers.

Well in my house, they’ll eat what they’re served.

If someone flippantly says that they’re going to feed your child animal products while hosting them, you don’t need that person in your life. It’s time to have a heavy conversation about respect, friendship, and crossing a fine line as a caregiver. I get it, grandma might want to throw in the towel while providing some much needed babysitting, but stress to other adults in your child’s life that this simply isn’t an option, and that you trust them to respect your wishes.
You’re making the right choice as a parent to raise your kid vegan, and in a perfect world, nobody would question your parenting skills. Unfortunately, a combination of nosiness, ignorance, and misinformation can cause even the most well meaning adult in your child’s life to rattle off something that is silly and false. Use it as an opportunity to explain what a compassion and kick-ass lifestyle veganism is, not just for an individual, but for an entire family.

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