When I tell people I’m vegan, almost uniformly the first thing out of their mouths is, “Are the girls too?” To which I reply no and they relax and stop thinking I’m totally crazy.
There are a lot of vegan parents out there who are adamant that their kids are raised vegan. Celebrities like Alicia Silverstone and Emily Deschanel have eaten vegan throughout their pregnancies and have said they plan to raise their children vegan. I think that’s great for them. Whatever works for their families. But it doesn’t work for mine.
First, I’m the only vegan in my family. Not my husband, not my in-laws, not my parents, no one but me. My kids will be exposed to non-vegan foods growing up and I don’t want them to feel deprived. I also don’t want it to be difficult for relatives at family get togethers trying figure out what they can serve my kids. No one feels too bad if an adult, like myself, misses a meal, but it would really bother them (and my hungry kids) if they couldn’t just eat whatever.
I want them to have a “normal” childhood complete with sleepovers and pizza parties and birthday cake. Maneuvering through social situations growing up is hard enough. I don’t want to make it harder by having them have to say, “Thanks, but I’m vegan. I don’t eat cheese”, or hot dogs or ice cream or baked goods with eggs in them or whatever else.
I also worry from a health perspective if a vegan diet could provide all the nutrients their growing bodies need. I think it can be a healthy diet, if you are aware of what you need to eat to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need. That being said, I think to expect little kids to eat quinoa, hemp, dark leafy green vegetables, and a lot of other vegetables on a regular basis might be pushing it. I know there are studies out there that say it is a healthy diet for everyone, I just don’t want to take my chances.
The biggest reason though, is I believe veganism is a choice. I made the decision to go vegan based on ethical, environmental, and health reasons. It was a personal decision based on my personal beliefs and I know it isn’t right for everyone. I would never force my beliefs on someone else, including my children.
I suspect as they get older we will have conversations about why mommy eats differently. I suspect they will all try vegetarianism at some point during their adolescence. I would be surprised if at least one didn’t become vegan. And I’ll support their decisions and teach them how to do it right. And if they want to stay omnivorous, I’ll support that too and keep cooking meat a couple times a week
Either way, I plan to teach my children how to eat healthy and expose them to a wide variety of foods so they can make their own decisions when they’re older.