Supporting A Parent’s Decision To Raise Vegan

by | March 22, 2018

As parents, we try to raise our children with animal friendly ethics.

The saying goes “it takes a village to raise a child”, all those you surround yourself by are all involved with raising your children. Assisting and potentially having influence on a day-to-day basis and to do so without supporting your lifestyle choices can make things really complicated. Who gets the say in the child’s diet? It’s confusing and 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 can be more challenging 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 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). 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. Every time I opened the naughty cupboard and saw the crisps and snack bars containing dairy, my heart sank, and this must have shown 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 our choices, the snack cupboard ran out of animal products and visits became care free yet still 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 has vegan spreads and meat alternatives available. ‘Respect’ for our dietary choices has become ’embrace’.

I believe it 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 makes it much easier. 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 choices 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 the parents involved. 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 I find it incredibly hurtful. 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 physical support of 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 attitudes toward the subject of animal farming.

My family were/are a 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.

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 making a good choice for the animals and your (and your child’s) example may be the start of another loved ones journey to a plant based way of living.

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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