Raising Vegan Children

by | January 11, 2018

“Is there any cow boobie in that mummy?”

A phrase which stuns many a parent from across the table at a child’s birthday party. But it’s been a staple question in our household since before my daughter could talk fully to maintain her and her baby brother’s gut health. Raising vegan children is not always easy. You’re met with a lot of harsh views from other parents and from people who suddenly become nutritionists.

We have several names for the white stuff in people’s fridges. The basic honest breakdown of what it in fact is; be it, nut milk, seed milk, rice milk, oat milk, breast/mummy milk or cow boobie/ ‘insert animal name’ mummy milk. As a family we understand all too well there are physical consequences to consuming dairy, (the common intolerance discomforts and skin complaints)  so all food and drink should be checked first to see if it contains cow boobie. So politely, my daughter will ask me whether a cake or biscuit she is being offered contains cow boobie and if yes, then she doesn’t even question having one. Her innocence and logic totally appreciates ‘cow boobie is for the calfs’.

This method of honesty extended to all foods. I have never said ‘no’ to her from a vegan stance but I haven’t needed to. For example, she was at a friend’s party and was seated next to a plate of Hawaiin pizza and another of sausage rolls. As she starts putting cucumber sticks and hummus on her plate she asks what’s in the pizza and rolls. I crouch down next to her and explain truthfully. In that pizza is cow boobie, tomatoes, pineapple and ham which is made from pig and in the sausage rolls is pastry and sausage made from pig. Whether it had been a burger made from ‘beef which is a cow’ or ‘chicken which is from an actual chicken’ she screws her nose up and affirms “I don’t want to eat animals”.

I can’t deny, I gush with pride each time.

My hope is that she looks upon these situations in the future and remembers she was always given an informed choice. Her brother is following in her footsteps. Both have amazed me in their dignity when surrounded by visually tempting jellies, treats and ice creams and their friends beside them eating these foods, yet accepting so gratefully the alternative mummy has provided for them.

This is one thing I have chosen to do to help us in social situations; find out what is on the menu and create a vegan alternative. Equally we have ensured from a nutritional basis that the word ‘treat’ isn’t just associated with chocolate or crisps but to fruit salads or roasted veggies or agave in porridge etc. By adjusting my mind set and laying theirs out in this way has made us a healthier household and a table of more color. For me, this is a compromise of living and socializing. I could avoid these party scenarios and decline the invites altogether but my thinking and hope is that by inclusion, my children won’t grow up and resent the lifestyle we have or feel deprived in any way. Equally it displays an example of living and thriving without animal products.

The more we attend groups and parties, people have kindly made great efforts to accommodate us with vegan options. We (us vegans) are often criticized for being vocal and for swiftly slipping into conversation how we are vegan. But that’s because we need to emphasize the reasons for not sharing a milkshake or wine bottle or wanting to walk just that bit further to a cafe that has heard of tofu and won’t hate me for declining the mayo. We are not fussy people, in fact the array of foods many vegans eat counter that thought completely. Our choice is deep and comes from within us and there is a need to express it in hope of being understood.

It’s a daily adventure for my children to visit their bug houses in the garden, feed our rescue hens and crack their discarded eggs open for them to eat. Acknowledging that while we don’t eat honey, it’s important there are still flowers and homes for the bees and insects to continue living, a safe and warm place for the hens and like a sanctuary. They’re not just existing for financial profit.  I’ve no doubt we’ll be re-homing animals in the future. If they’re anything like me, many walks will be interrupted with attempts to help an injured rabbit or bird from the roadside.

I’m sure there are improvements to be made, including more varieties of fruits and raw veggies but I love this journey we are on.

Lilli Docherty, is a mum to x4 under 4 years old, self employed with her own craft business and raising her family vegan. Lilli writes about daily life and the challenges she faces throughout her pregnancies, breastfeeding and vegan lifestyle, with an honest and fun reflection of her journey. You can find her on Facebook

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