We’ve all seen the YouTube video of a young child’s moment of declaration that they will not eat animals. Somehow every one of these clips pulls our heartstrings—whether we’re vegan or not.
Now it’s your child’s turn, and you’re that sensitive mother.
As your child experiences this moment of trauma, realizing she’s eaten animals her whole life until now, you’re the mother asserting her stance of not being vegan.
Being the beautiful, supportive, nurturing mother you are (if you weren’t you wouldn’t have found this blog), keep your heart soft and open to the following suggestions.
Learn what being Vegetarian Means to your Child
Speak with your child to understand her reasons for wanting to be vegetarian. She may have heard the term and thought it sounded nice and healthy; however, it’s more likely she doesn’t want to eat animals…because they’re dead animals. (I could and will write an entire essay on this.) Is this your child’s reason?
Learn the Nutrition and Health Basics
Your child can be a thriving vegetarian. If they’re eating lots of fruit (yes, lot’s of fruit—the vegetarian diet is nothing like the omnivorous diet, and shouldn’t be treated as such) and some vegetables, grains or legumes, then they’ll do great. Lots of fruit and vegetables so that they are getting all the nutrients they require is key. You may also like to read my blogs on protein (LINK), calcium (LINK), B12 and Iron.
Grab some plant-based Recipe Books
Having a vegetarian kid can be simple—and it will be. For now, though, you need to start with some groundwork. You didn’t learn to eat and cook the way you do overnight; this is the same. It may be all new to you, but it’s so natural and in alignment with our bodies and nature that you’ll likely adapt with surprising ease to supporting your child in this new path.
I’ve learned to always be prepared with delicious, healthy treats and meals. Schools often don’t cater to vegetarians (not healthfully anyway), so your child may like to bring a meal that’s in alignment with her new values. This is an opportunity for you to save on meals out and feed her what you want to feed her. If she’s going to a friend’s house, give her great vegetarian snacks and fruit so that she’ll have something to fall back on for every meal—as well as share with others. You may find that she can truly be in her power with this decision; after all, it’s hers and no one else’s. The best possible outcome is that she will feel confident and supported in her choice.
Make Adjustments and Avoid Shame
If a child is craving an animal product (this is surprisingly rare) that she used to eat, then see if you can find the vegan alternative (much healthier than the vegetarian alternative). The shame of not following through with her choice and the guilt of eating an animal is worse than not having it at all, so go together to find alternatives. I myself went vegetarian at 11 years old and never craved meat again but I did love that there were vegan options of the meals I did used to enjoy. Most supermarkets these days have freezers and health food sections filled with vegetarian alternatives to standard meals (e.g. vegetarian steaks, vegan sausages, veggie burgers).
Your child’s decision to take on the cruelty-free lifestyle may last a short time—or the rest of her life. I remember my grandmother saying, “Oh, I thought you would have grown out of that by now,” seven years after I became vegetarian. 3 year later I was vegan. Now it’s 24 years since the day I went vegetarian. Going Vegetarian was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. Going vegan was the best decision I ever made in my life.
Whatever you choose to do in your own diet, be as supportive as a mother can be. You’re helping your child grow into a responsible adult, capable of making difficult decisions that affect animals, the environment, and their own health. Going vegetarian is a compassionate choice, worthy of our deepest respect, support, and encouragement.
If you made it this far, I have no doubt in my mind that you are a huge-hearted, compassionate mother that wants the best for her child. Supporting this choice is what is best them. Thank you for hearing me and them.
P.S. Feel free to join my FB group: Healthy, Sexy, Vegan Mumma for more ongoing support.
P.P.S. Have you seen this video of my 3-year-old daughter and what she said and did when she saw two men cutting up a pig? Have a look here, it received 5,000 views in just 24 hours upon posting to Facebook earlier this month: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5qVSD9iyRk
Originally published at donnawild.com