Paging Paisley: My Kids’ School Won’t Allow Outside Food
Our twins are starting school in September, and the school doesn’t allow any outside food. They do provide healthy lunches in the cafeteria, but the children are ultimately allowed to choose what they want. We’re afraid that the kids will want what their friends are having. I spoke to the school director, who said we would need to tell the nurse they are allergic to the food so they can be flagged. How do I flag everything animal based protein? How do I explain to two 4 year olds that eating what their friends are eating is not what they should do? Help!
Signed, Confused Mother
I can totally relate to this issue, as where I live we have the exact same rules. There are 3 few options that come to mind.
- You can ask your pediatrician to write a note saying that: So-and-so has thrived on a vegan diet, and my recommendation is that they continue on one. All products containing meat, fish, dairy, and eggs should not be included so-and-so’s diet. This might not seem like a big deal, but just having a doctor’s note can make a big difference. The nurse will take this seriously, and it should be enough to have them flagged.
- Educate your child as often as possible, and let them decide. Now, this one is obviously much harder on your soul than option 1. Not knowing, and wondering… that tears on you. My four year old is quite aware, and usually asks if things are vegan before he eats them, but the occasional situation does arise when I have to gently guide him back to understanding that what his friends are eating is not what he really wants to be eating. Reading books at night like Veggie Vero, or V is for Vegan is a gentle and fun reminder for them as to why we raise them vegan.
- Ask for a menu ahead of time and go through it with your children. Again, you are putting a lot of faith in them. You can go through the menu of the day at breakfast and prepare them for what is to come, what would be okay to eat, and what they should try to avoid. Maybe, if there is something that they really like (for example, hot dogs) you could offer to make vegan ones for dinner because you know they will be missing out while their friends eat it during the day. Then, when they come home you can once again touch on the menu that was served during the day and if they made a “mistake” you can talk through it, and ask why they ate that particular thing, and how they feel about it, and if they understood that it wasn’t vegan, so they are better prepared next time.
Another thing you can encourage is, if they are asked why they aren’t eating the same thing as the other kids, that they can tell their friends about veganism and how they are saving animals. They might even encourage other little kids to make the same options.
A wonderful thing your kiddos have that a lot of others don’t is… each other! What a wonderful gift to have a twin. They can check each other, play with each other, and hopefully sit together. So at least someone else is avoiding the same things as them.
I hope this helped, and that you find a solution that works at your school. Lots of changes are being made in ways of children and diets, and hopefully this will be a non-issue soon enough.
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