Until recently, I never realized how lucky my family has it and why it has been relatively easy to raise a vegan child. My family is a little unique and not just because we are vegan. I am a working mom and hubby stays home with the little vegan. To add even more of a twist, we (or should I say primarily hubby) also home school’s our little vegan.
Daddy deals with her home school groups, Tae Kwon Do, soccer, girl scouts and play dates. This means he also deals with all food related things like the awkward snack time where they serve string cheese or non vegan cupcakes. Don’t get me wrong, it is not awkward for him or the little vegan, because daddy has his bag of tricks, it usually is the server that feels bad. Over time though, in her social circle, our little vegan, Anzia has warmed over most and she definitely breaks every negative stereotype of a vegan, home schooled child, so much so that people around her want to learn more about veganism and try to make sure that she at least has something to eat.
A few weeks ago we had our first Mommy/Daughter Girl Scout outing. We filled out the paperwork which specifically asked about dietary issues, where it stated that any person with special dietary needs would be served last, leaving us to believe that they would feed us. Luckily for us daddy had dealt with similar situations so he packed us a lunch along with snacks. Thank goodness because the only option we would have had all day would have been carrots and celery.
This weekend we have another event, this one being an over night event where it specifically states that if people are unable to eat off the chosen menu they will have to provide their own food, which again is fine but we are going to be limited to food that we don’t need to refrigerate and that doesn’t need to be heated. This has been an eye opener due to the fact that we rarely have to deal with this type of thing. What about the little vegans that are in regular schools and less controlled social situations? How do they fare? Do they get resentful?
Please don’t take any of the above instances as complaints. We have chosen our lifestyle and wouldn’t change it for anything. I simply want to ask other vegans what some of the challenges are that they run into with their little vegans when they go off to school? Is there advice you can offer? I love hearing what vegans say!
*A happy addition to this story. It is now January 25, 2013 and we are planning on doing the same event this year, where our options last year were celery and carrots. Last year I had mentioned that I never mind bringing my own food, but if you are going to state that you can meet dietary needs, please try to do so. Yesterday, I received a letter from the menu planer, who this year is working with all parents with dietary needs and making sure everything is covered. They have gone so far that they will have separate pans for dairy free as well as gluten-free cooking. It may be a small step, but it is nice to know when our efforts create change.
We are a vegan family with two daughters ages 12 and 9. I homeschooled in the past and, like your husband, I would bring snacks to every outting. Now they go to a hybrid homeschool where they are in a public school for three days per week. There are a lot of in-school celebrations involving candy, cupcakes, ice cream, pizza, hot dogs and various other forms of junk food. I work with the teachers so they will let me know when something is coming up and I provide the vegan version (to the best of my ability) for the girls. I won’t lie, they get teased for being vegan. The other day my older daughter came home practically in tears saying, “the kids call me a freak because I don’t eat meat or cheese – they think I am weird and they think the food I eat is just gross!” It broke my heart but at the same time I helped her feel empowered by saying, “…which is grosser – eating a vegetable or a rib cage…eating fruit or chicken periods…”. That made her laugh and put it in perspective for her. I don’t want her to be contentious with the kids but just so she knows when she is in that situation in the future, that she’s doing what’s right for her.
Thinking more on this… and… you know what… I think it’s really just all about whether we are attacking other people’s choices sometimes. Because, you know, “clearly” vegan and raw are best for me/us/environment/you… but then not everyone agrees. So if it accidentally becomes an “I’m right. You’re wrong. I’m morally superior, and you’re gross” kind of issue… well… that sure gets awkward.
It’s really tough to get used to accepting choices we may not like. I hope I’m really, really good at this by the time Lilla is school age, because I’m not sure if we will home school her or not.
We shall see.
Thanks for bringing this up. Great topic!! ❤
🙂 xxo Eva
I don’t have kids, and so I don’t face these particular challenges. However, I’m always interested in hearing how vegan families maneuver these kinds of things. It sounds like your daughter is lucky to have such supportive and caring parents. Not going along with the status quo, especially where diet is concerned, can very much feel like swimming upstream in our culture. However, that’s all the more reason that children need to know that our ethics and our food choices are not something to do on autopilot.
I don’t have kids either, but agree with cadryskitchen, that it is interesting to hear how vegan families navigate in a non-vegan world. I’m glad that there are parents like you raising compassionate and thoughtful kids…it gives me hope for the future of this planet.
Fortunately for us, Anzia believes in her lifestyle and has enough patience to explain to people that might not understand. She also attends a public school setting twice a week but it is still a younger (7 year olds) less judgmental crowd. Also being in a pretty liberal city like Seattle helps. I can’t tell you how many time we have brought food to birthday parties or events where parents were a step ahead of us and purchased food especially for her. We even attended a wedding last month where they had special desserts just for us. I believe that when you approach our lifestyle with those you interact with in a kind manner that they have the desire to accommodate you rather than alienate. Thanks for the comments!
I plan on raising my children (if I ever have any) as vegans but I feel that the more you present the vegan versions of a snack or simply prepare your child a lunch then it is allowing everyone (in a sense) to experience it and hopefully accept it. Its a bit sad when one is considered odd for eating their vegetables, but that doesn’t mean the attitude can’t be changed a bit by example. ^^
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I’m happy to know that this post has been informative! Also pleased that others shared their experiences! 🙂