Raising Vegan Children With Omni Family Members
The saying goes “it takes a village to raise a child”
Everyone you surround yourself by are all involved with raising your children. And that includes omni family members who may not share the same views as you.
As parents, we try to raise our children with animal friendly ethics. Even if you don’t have your own pets you show there is a way to nurture and care for wildlife and the animals around you, having an overall love and appreciation for animals. However, many of us, my own family included, would believe and have hailed themselves as animal lovers yet multiple times a day be complicit in their suffering. It doesn’t add up! But I don’t think it’s actually our fault. We’ve been told a lie throughout school, in the media, clever advertising and until we are given the true information do you/we have a chance to make things right. Is it a choice? Or an obligation? To accept our actions are inclusive of animal suffering or work on cancelling this from our lifestyle as much as practically possible?
For me, raising children, I feel it is my obligation to be genuinely animal friendly. Wanting to do my best and wanting the next generation to be aware and make thoughtful, caring, compassionate decisions. But it’s so much easier if everybody else is on board.
Assisting and potentially having influence on a day-to-day basis and to do so without supporting your agenda to reduce animal suffering can make things really complicated. I have read far too many times parent’s concerns with leaving their child with the grandparents or when one parent has made a choice to be vegan but the other still consuming animal products. And then you have the issue of what does the child do? Who gets the say in the child’s diet? It’s confusing.
This isn’t like raising a child in two languages where eventually they will use both. With veganism, it’s a lifestyle, it becomes your everything because it is the core of everything. Equally this means if you don’t agree with the opposing view (to be non vegan) you can’t really adopt this alternative even partially; to bring up a child in the middle of two comprehensions is difficult and it will (I think) be hard to obtain a child’s understanding.
I’ve been so fortunate that my parents had from the very start of our journey, respected our (*cough*… MY) choices. We had long referred to the snack cupboard in their house as the naughty cupboard, and it earned the title more so now the animal ingredients had been highlighted (biscuits, crisps and even the ‘healthy food’ in the fridge like yogurt, cheese etc). But my parents went out of their way to make smoothies from scratch, to purchase nut and hemp milks and non dairy cheeses.
They came completely on board with how I wanted to raise my children.
Previously my heart would sink and disappointment show on my face, now admittedly I am a tad stubborn, so had my parameters not been adhered to. I expect I’d have held back from visiting but because of their open-mindedness and acceptance to my (family’s) choices, visits became care free and yummy.
Mother in laws frequently get a negative reputation but I can’t fault mine as she has equally respected our lifestyle and ensures she had vegan spreads and meat alternatives available. ‘Respect’ for our dietary choices has led to an ’embrace’.
I think this is fundamental to any parent’s journey. To have support with this lifestyle, to have everyone who is involved with your children’s upbringing on board. They don’t have to agree, same as whether you get your child certain toys and clothes or what school they go to, different people and generations have different views on many things. But, even with differing views, those influential people need to respect your parental decisions and not undermine them.
When I’ve read about family members or day care staff not complying with raising children Vegan, I feel the pain physically for you. When I’m reading about a grandparent who has deliberately given the grandchild food with an animal product because they simply don’t agree that the parent’s wishes. This is so so sad. If I can say ‘irregardless’ of the possible health consequences there may be; to have the parental and core family values dismissed is incredibly heartbreaking. Some of us depend to the support others so juggling their perceptions can be tough.
My tactic was honesty.
I referenced my opinion (not that you should have to) with articles and progressed to THE documentaries. We debated and talked openly, including the children with their common sense attitude towards the subject of animal farming.
My family were/are the ultimate success story. Initially providing alternatives for our visits, to eventually transitioning by their 3 year old Grandchild’s example, to a completely plant based lifestyle. The odd item is bought in error but we really help each other, share videos and social media messages and recipes . We are doing this together as a whole family. So my message to anyone having difficulty or feeling isolated due to your veganism, stick to your beliefs. Be stubborn and conscientious. Don’t let it build barriers; remember you’re informed and your (and your child’s) example may be the start of another loved ones journey to a plant based way of living.
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