Motherhood, Vegan Parenting, and “Imposing Your Beliefs on Your Children”

I’ve been thinking a lot about being a mom lately.  Partly because our eldest is turning eleven this week, and I cannot believe she is growing so quickly (don’t all moms say that?  It’s true).  And, partly because this Pregnant Chicken piece brought me back to those ‘new mom’ emotions and experiences – again timely with our daughter’s birthday approaching.

Image from ebsqart.com, click to link to artist page

And then today this Should Kids Go Vegan? article is circulating.  There is a quote in the article, which brings back that tired assumption about vegan diets:

“The main problem I have with this book is that children are impressionable, and this is too sensitive of a topic to have a child read this book,” Nicole German, a registered dietitian in Atlanta, writes on her blog. “It could easily scare a young child into eating vegan, and, without proper guidance, that child could become malnourished.”

Yes, I suppose without proper guidance a child eating vegan could become malnourished.  But so could a child on a meat and dairy-centric diet.  Or, that “well-rounded” SAD approach to eating.  How much fibre are they getting on that diet?  How much vitamin C?  What about phytonutrients?  And antioxidants?

Let’s flip that and talk about what most kids ARE getting a lot of on the standard diet.  Cholesterol.  Saturated animal fats.  Refined sugars.  Refined flours.  Empty calories.  Probably trans fats and artificial colors and flavorings.  Wait, you say that they can also get the sugars, white foods, and artificial junk on a vegan diet.  True.  Except…

Most people eating vegan embody a certain consciousness about their food.  They typically become attentive to the nutritional value of eating vegan.  And even if they don’t personally, that typically changes when they have a child.  Because when you have a child, everything changes.  It’s not just about you anymore.  All of a sudden, there is a small, innocent, vulnerable baby looking up at you.  That baby is completely dependent on YOU for their survival and growth… to make choices in their best interest, for their health and well-being.  It is an awesome responsibility, one that I did not take lightly.

And, to move away from that one quote in the aforementioned article.  I’ve often read, and heard people say: “Aren’t you imposing your beliefs on your children as a vegan?”

Yes.  I am.  Aren’t you imposing your beliefs as a meat-eater?  Don’t we impose all our beliefs on our children, particularly in early, highly developmental years?  From how much tv they watch, which songs they listen to, what school they attend, which activities they are in, what manners they display around the home and in social situations, whether they go to McD’s or some other nutrient-empty fast food joint.  Don’t we all impose our beliefs as parents?  At least in early years we do, until they gain more independence to make some of their own judgements and decisions.  The only difference is which beliefs and values we are instilling, or imposing.

So, YES, I want to impose my beliefs in eating a whole-foods vegan diet on my children.  After all, I chose it for myself out of health, why wouldn’t I want my children to similarly benefit?  Of course I researched the suitability of a vegan diet for children once I became pregnant, and was prudent in making healthy food choices for them.  And I continue to do so.

And you know what?  Our three girls value real food.  They love our meals, and have often thanked me at mealtimes saying “I am thankful mommy decided to eat vegan and feed us this healthy, yummy food”.  I am not kidding.  And my kids are not angels.  (I’ll save that for another post.) ;)

But I am telling you, as a kid that grew up eating junk it took years to retrain my palate.  Food habits – and preferences – start early.   I started with whole-foods plant-powered diet, and am optimistic that our girls will continue on this health- and compassion-promoting diet.  So teach ‘em wisely, teach ‘em early, I say.

What about you – are you a parent raising vegan children?  Or, were you raised eating vegan or vegetarian foods?  What is your take on this article and the notion of “imposing your vegan beliefs”?

 

48 Responses to Motherhood, Vegan Parenting, and “Imposing Your Beliefs on Your Children”

  1. Katy says:

    Dear Dreena,
    This is my first post on your great blog. I’ve been reading it for some time now (of course I already tried some of your great recipes either) and also bought two of your books. Vive le vegan especially because of the charter on feeding Babies vegan food. I am the mother of a 7 month old baby and cook most of her pap myself. I think it is right and also necessary to impose your own beliefs on your own family. Everybody does and it is strange that people always feel the urge to interfere, when it comes to vegetarian or vegan nutrition. I am planning on raising my baby vegetarian as minimum, vegan would be better. When she decides one day that she wants to eat meat, I am sure this will be a decision made conciously, and I can live with that. Food had always been very important in my family and I will go on with cooking healthy but great tasting food. So I am looking forward to your new book :-)

  2. This is such a great post. I recently got my hands on your Let Them Eat Vegan! and am now looking forward to looking through this blog!
    I am still very far away from having children, but I completely agree with you that it is not possible to be a parent without imposing your beliefs onto your children, especially when they are still very young. It is therefore largely a matter of choosing which values you instill upon them, and with what kind of an attitude you do so.
    An interesting point which I read somewhere (I can’t remember where, sorry that I cannot credit the person for their insights) is that so many parents want to teach their children compassion, respect and the value of standing up for those who do not have a voice, and yet they choose to feed their children foods that do not embody this at all. Veganism allows you to teach these values without hypocrisy and having to justify kindness to one species and cruelty to another, and that is something I look forward to doing if I ever have children!

  3. Madeline says:

    I’ve thought about this a lot lately. I had been vegetarian (and an unhealthy one) for about 6 years until I chose to be vegan about 4 months ago. You’re so right. I’m so much more health conscious. I was under the impression that I would have to be very careful and begin taking supplements as a vegan. I went vegan for ethical reasons. So I did a significant amount of research to make sure I was doing it healthily. Turns out veganism is way healthier. Now that seems so incredibly obvious to me, but at the time, I was just pleasantly surprised. I just turned 20, so I don’t intend to have kids any time soon, but when that time comes, I know I’ll be raising them vegan. I regret that no one spared me the damage meat inflicted upon my health and psyche. I can never do that to a child. Teaching children compassion and healthy lifestyle choices? I can’t think of anything better to “inflict” upon your child.

  4. Wonderfully written! I laugh at the idea that imposing vegan beliefs on our children is harmful. I had to comment because my oldest, who is 9, says similar things to me. She thanks me for dinners she enjoys and says she’s glad her mom knows how to feed her such healthy, delicious foods.

  5. Danielle Hache says:

    My son however just tonight told me he is not. He wishes not to be a vegetarian or vegan and he would like a piece of chicken (were his exact words). After I made it clear that their will be no chicken in my house and hell have to eat that outside of the home, i started thinking. Well I’m having difficulty with this one, this decision as a parent. I very strongly believe in plant based nutrition and take it seriously. both myself and my son are reaping the benefits, in the last 2 years we have had no flus, colds, nothing we work out everyday, our mood is stable, good energy levels. When we did it meat it was quite the opposite, even frequent hospital visits. I am sure there are others out there who went through or are going through this. As a human rights activist, and free thinker i find it difficult to tell him well no , you may not eat chicken …..i forbid it!!! lol…..but i feel like its bad for his health, my job as parent, ugh i just dont even know. this just happened tonight, right now so it’s fresh and my confusion is getting in the way of me thinking clearly. I guess I will hear some feedback, do some research about stuff other parents did when confronting this.

  6. Danielle Hache says:

    Wow I just discovered you and am very glad I have. I am a vegan :)
    My son however just tonight told me he is not. He wishes not to be a vegetarian or vegan and he would like a piece of chicken (were his exact words). After I made it clear that their will be no chicken in my house and hell have to eat that outside of the home, i started thinking. Well I’m having difficulty with this one, this decision as a parent. I very strongly believe in plant based nutrition and take it seriously. both myself and my son are reaping the benefits, in the last 2 years we have had no flus, colds, nothing we work out everyday, our mood is stable, good energy levels. When we did it meat it was quite the opposite, even frequent hospital visits. I am sure there are others out there who went through or are going through this. As a human rights activist, and free thinker i find it difficult to tell him well no , you may not eat chicken …..i forbid it!!! lol…..but i feel like its bad for his health, my job as parent, ugh i just dont even know. this just happened tonight, right now so it’s fresh and my confusion is getting in the way of me thinking clearly. I guess I will hear some feedback, do some research about stuff other parents did when confronting this.

  7. Trisha says:

    First off I must say I love your blog! I am 17 years old and I have been a vegetarian for 2years and I am currently struggling my way to veganism. My older sister has now been a vegetarian for 8 years, as well as my older brother, and my dad goes back and forth. Because of this my family and how we eat is very vegetarian oriented. But in no way is my family supportive of my decision to go vegan. It’s made it very hard. I try my best to eat vegan now but I know once I move out next year I WILL be vegan. I’m determined. And finding blogs like yours with great recipes and articles like that help me a lot so thank you! I too plan on raising a vegan family :)

  8. Heather Mora says:

    I am a first time reader, a first-time mom and a first-time “just went to the grocery store and bought nothing from the dairy or meat section” trying out this plant-based diet-er. By far my biggest concern with eliminating diary and meat from our family’s menu is how it will affect my 13 month old. So she might keep drinking milk for a while and eating cheese, but I am okay with that. I completely agree with you that a good parent IS concerned with shaping their children’s views on food and steering my baby clear of processed foods seems soooo logical. Anyway, I am trying your nutty burgers tomorrow night and I can’t wait to read through the rest of your posts!

    • Dreena says:

      Hi first-timer Heather! :) Well, congrats on making some healthy dietary switches – and welcome to my blog!! I hope you enjoy the burgers, and that you become more confident and comfortable with the abundant nutrition in plant-based foods. One step at a time, good luck and enjoy the journey!

  9. Erica says:

    This is my first time reading your blog, and already I am hooked! My husband and I have both always been health-conscious and never ate very much meat to begin with, but after a lot of reading and research, in December we made the decision to eat a plant-based diet in our home.

    My biggest concern was transitioning our 4 year-old son to a plant-based diet, but, surprisingly, he LOVES vegan food! He makes no complaint about any fruit or veggie or grain we eat, and he is getting all the nutrition he needs to be healthy and strong.

    I totally agree with what you said about ALL of us imposing our beliefs on our children, just by virtue of our everyday activities and habits. Personally, I’d rather “impose” veganism on my son than have him later regret years of eating junk and suffering the negative health consequences of a meat- and dairy-heavy diet. So, anyway, thanks for this post and for this beautiful blog! I wholeheartedly agree. :)

    • Dreena says:

      How sweet of you Erica! Thank you, I’m tickled that you are ‘hooked’. ;) And, I hope to bring you plenty of good food and cooking inspiration to keep your whole family eating plant-powered happy!

  10. SaraMM says:

    This is a fantastic post! We’re raising our 2 1/2 year old vegan because we feel it is better for her health and for the animals/planet. It’s a win-win for everyone. Our daughter gets to grow up compassionate and with all the nutrients she needs (with a B-12 vitamin kicked in of course).

    Didn’t my parents impose their catholic beliefs in me? Yes, they certainly tried to. In the end I made my own decision as an adult which my daughter will also get to do but growing up in my parents house I did as they directed-ate meat, tons of fatty ice cream sundaes and went to a catholic church. Nobody criticized them and acted like they were mistreating me for those choices because they were not. They were raising me the way they believed life to be and that is what I’m doing for my child.

    She’s incredibly energetic, has outstanding verbal skills which says to me she’s getting very brain healthy foods and she’s happy. At her last check up her iron was fantastic! Do critics realize you can even get iron from dark chocolate? Meat doesn’t have a monopoly on iron!

    Thank you Dreena for always hitting the nail on the head!

    • Nicole Boggs says:

      I was just thinking of this question this morning. I recently have become Vegan and i have 3 children. Two of my kids have meat allergies, so i thought it’ll be super easy for them. They go to a charter school that supports this type of lifestyle(most of their friends are Vegan or Vegitarian). They are 10&7. My husband didn’t like this idea. He’s trying to support me(i make all the meals in the house), so everyone’s Vegan at home. The kids luch is Vegan because i make them. So do i ask them or do i make the decision for them. I know it’s great for them to be Vegans, but if my family isn’t going to support me…this decision has become hard.

      • Dreena says:

        Nicole, for sure it helps to have support with your family, and especially with your spouse as children take cues from us as parents. Give yourself credit for making the changes you are, and I would encourage you to keep at it. If you can show them that the food is delicious and satisfying and that they aren’t “missing” a thing… and then if they are feeling better with eating those meals… that will help bring them on board. Good luck, and sending you support.

  11. Amber says:

    I love this article!!!
    I ESPECIALLY love what you wrote in reply to the question about you “imposing” your beliefs on your children. so many meat eaters are imposing their meat eating beliefs on their children and won’t admit it but then when they see a vegetarian or vegan raising their child that way and they don’t agree with it they are gonna blame you for “imposing” your beliefs. it’s ridiculous. even though, like you said, you are somewhat imposing your beliefs on them, because you want them to be healthy and know how to keep themselves healthy.
    I myself am a vegetarian (13 years going strong) hoping to eventually become vegan. I have cut down significantly on my dairy over the last year but I am just so addicted to cheese that I keep finding myself going back to it =/ but I’m working on it. I also am not a mother yet but when I do have children I am definitely going to raise them as vegan as I possibly can, and hopefully I will be vegan myself by then, because I would hate to deny them cheese if I’m eating it myself =/
    anyways I love your blog and your site!
    take care!

  12. Jenni says:

    Thank you so much for writing this! I totally agree with everything and as a future parent (one day) this is very encouraging.

  13. TransformingAFatGirl says:

    … and I should also mention that my journey is made even more difficult by my parents archaic way of eating. Even though they eat “healthier” (lean meats and lots of fruits & veggies) they still believe a vegetarian diet is only necessary at least once a week (and I will bet even that doesn’t happen). AND by my obese, type 1 diabetes boyfriend who is very picky, eats too much and insists on most of his diet being from processed food. UGH this journey will be difficult but so worth it WHEN I succeed!

  14. TransformingAFatGirl says:

    I am so glad I stumbled upon you and your blog. I love your recipes, your blog and your ideas.

    I am TRYING to become a vegan.. moving right past vegetarian but it is a struggle even though I lie to people and tell them I am already a vegan! (ya.. that after I snuck a Whopper w/cheese yesterday for lunch and the sausages tucked in to a super fattening crescent roll w/cheese for lunch today) I LOVE the idea, I DO eat MANY vegan meals a week (balanced the Whopper with a delicious vegan chickpea & sweet potato & kale curry for dinner last night) but I am not all the way there yet! I do LOVE vegan meals when I take the time to make them and wonder why I don’t force this on myself all the time. I just finished making a double batch of your Super-Charge Me! Cookies for me & for my daughter to take on a trip… let me just tell you.. they are DELICIOUS!! I would never miss the eggs or butter!!

    I WISH I could impose my opinion on my 18 year old daughter, perhaps if I finally followed through and transformed she may be more inclined to listen. I wish more than anything though that I had stumbled upon this vegan way of eating 18+ years ago. I most certainly WOULD have imposed a vegan diet on my daughter (& myself) and I think the transition from meat to plant based would have been easier. I wonder if the mental health issues she has suffered from would have been prevented as well. I strongly believe this is the way we are supposed to eat. I strongly believe many childhood illnesses like autism could even be prevented. I even believe eating this way and prevent or cure some cancers (if not all). So why is it so hard to just ditch my previous way of eating and transform from a fat girl to a healthy girl??

    • Dreena says:

      It’s so hard because the food that you are going back to IS so addictive. It has been scientifically shown that these fast foods are addictive, as well as dairy. It takes time to reprogram your palate, so please know that. Look into some of the information on http://www.pcrm.org. There is a lot of good info from Dr. Barnard there (and in his books) about how addictive these foods are – as well as how unhealthy they are and their connections to chronic diseases. Also, “The China Study” is a game-changer if you haven’t read it.

      Mostly I want to say, yes you can transform, and along the way, while you are eating those healthy foods – start looking at yourself as a healthy girl in progress! :) I grew up eating junk food and having terrible cravings for the worst foods. And, I was very chubby as an older child and young teen. So, I understand how it’s hard, and no doubt even harder the more years you live eating this way. But, many people with similar stories are making these healthy changes. You can do it too. Just keep on keeping on, as I say! And, poke around my site for healthy, nutrient-dense recipes. Keep experimenting and cooking and crowding out those unhealthy foods with new healthy food choices. Good luck, and thanks for your good words as well.

  15. Molly says:

    Thanks for the post and blog. I am happy to find a source for more information on vegan parenting. I switched to a plant based diet a year ago after being diagnosed with lymphoma and reading the China Study. I have very young children (3 and 16 months), and they eat mostly planted based. However, I have not taken them off of dairy milk. Do you know any good resources for how much nondairy milk to give to children or if it is ok? I am concerned about the need for fat with growing brains. but I also think that if it’s good for me, it must be good for them. Thanks!

    • Dreena says:

      Hi Molly! I have three children, so I understand you wanting to do the best for them. I would recommend that you research some links on http://www.pcrm.org regarding milk and children’s nutrition. There are several varieties of non-dairy milk including almond, soy, oat, coconut, and rice. Most are fortified (just as cow’s milks are). There is a lot of information supporting the health benefits of eliminating dairy from your child’s diet, including on the pcrm.org site. You can also reference books like “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition” (Julieanna Hever) and “Becoming Vegan” (Vesanto Melina). Finally, you might want to look at this post I did on my earlier blog about dairy: http://vivelevegan.blogspot.ca/2012/01/12-reasons-to-not-eat-dairy.html

      If you would like to discuss in more detail, I am available for consults (you can check that out on my contact page). Hope that helps some. Thanks. :)

  16. brook says:

    Thank you for this amazing post, Dreena! I don’t have children yet, but am confident I’ll want to raise them as vegans if/when I have them. I agree with you 100%–all parents impose things on their children, but its only when that goes against the norm that it’s viewed as such. This is a wonderful piece I’ll surely share and reference again!

  17. Interesting topic indeed! I don’t know that I can really comment not having children. But why should we shelter children from graphic things? I don’t understand this. If a child is old enough to choose what clothes he/she wants to wear then he/she is old enough to be told the TRUTH about their food choices. Obesity, heart-disease and cancer are pretty graphic torturous diseases in my opinion. As a parent, the health of your child and future health is your responsibility, so you have to provide the information to help them make informed decisions. Sure they may do what they wants when they are away from the house, but you must educate them to the best of your ability. Parents have the most important jobs in the world! :)

    • Dreena says:

      Hi Christy! How lovely that you stopped in to my ‘kitchen’ for a chat. :) Children are open to talk about things, and parents usually know what topics – and what specifics of such topics – are age appropriate. Our girls have asked about aspects of factory farming and diseases, and I will explain only as much as I know they can process at their age, and what will not be too disturbing for them. And when they are ready for more details, they ask! And, indeed, what they do as adults will pretty much be beyond any of my influence, I just hope to equip them with what I can to help them make informed decisions for their well-being. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and also your own knowledge and talents for living a healthy, compassionate vegan life with others!

  18. Elizabeth O says:

    I am just curious: what happens if your children, once they are old enough to be on their own, decide not to be vegan anymore?

    • Dreena says:

      Hi Elizabeth, well that will be up to them when they are grown adults, living on their own. Yet, knowing how they love their food and embrace eating a wholesome vegan diet, I’m doubtful they will want to start eating dairy and meat. And, they probably will feel sickly if they experiment and have the odd bit of cheese or meat with friends and not want to have a repeat of that! Still, that will be their decision to make if they choose once ‘out of my nest’. :)

  19. Cortney says:

    There are plenty of children following the SAD that are overweight and malnourished.

  20. bitt says:

    Appreciate your insights as always, Dreena. It’s so helpful to have your voice out there as an experienced vegan mom. I agree we all impose our beliefs on our children, great point.

  21. Jen says:

    I want my son (9) to be vegan, but I didn’t want to force it on him, lest he rebel. AND he is so, so, so, PICKY and STUBBORN that if I just took away meat, cheese and dairy, he’d eat bread all day. However, I did have him watch Meet Your Meat with me, and we still hang out with the vegans in our community and eat at vegan restaurants & buy the food at stores is because I don’t think that the ignorance that I grew up with (as a young person in the 60s and 70s) is right. Or healthy.

    The main reason I try to feed him as many vegan things as possible is that I don’t want him to have to “undo” a lifetime of meat-eating like I did. That’s what makes it hard. Those ingrained habits and lifelong tastes. I have spent SO much time undoing the things that were “taught” to me by adults; I don’t want it to be that hard for him.

    • Dreena says:

      Jen, it is quite a challenge to ‘undo’ unhealthy dietary habits, as you point out. Like you, I also had to retrain my palate. Great that you are exposing your son to healthier options and informed choices. Children are smart, and often make conclusions without us having to force or spell things out. Good luck.

  22. Paul says:

    Hi Dreena. Thanks for the blog and for the yummy recipes!

    My wife and I watched “Forks over Knives” about 8 months ago and have been eating plant-based whole foods ever since. She’s an amazing chef and has tried many of your excellent recipes. We have three small children and may have more, and they mostly adhere to the diet too (with some exceptions when they’re at parties/friends/grandparents).

    Some recent advice and reading I’ve done has made me think it would be good to try for a month or so incorporating back into our family’s diet eggs once a week and fish once a week. In particular, check out the NY Times discussion on vegan diets here:

    http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/04/17/is-veganism-good-for-everyone/a-choice-with-definite-risks

    I’d like to try this modification (add back in some eggs and fish, once a week) for a month to see how it goes, but my wife is reluctant to do so. She has drunk the Kool-Aid, er Coconut Milk, and says we don’t need any eggs or fish. I assume you agree whole-heartedly with her conclusion, but I thought I’d ask your advice anyway.

    So, could you offer some advice? In particular, would you mind “debunking” Nina Planck’s NYT article for me?

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Dreena says:

      Hi Paul, thanks for commenting, and for your good words about my recipes too. The way I see it, while we are in the minority with this diet as vegans, we will always have to ‘defend’ it in one way or another. This isn’t the first article by Nina, she wrote one in ’07 which I addressed on my blog here: http://vivelevegan.blogspot.ca/2007/05/death-not-by-veganism.html and here: http://vivelevegan.blogspot.ca/search?q=nina+planck

      With articles like Nina’s (and similar), we never quite know what the agenda is, and whether there is any ‘behind the scenes’ support from animal agriculture. Given the vegan diet has grown significantly in popularity in just the last couple of years, one has to wonder.

      Outside of the Nina issue, the American Dietetic Association has endorsed the vegan diet, and there are numerous articles and research available on pcrm.org concerning health risks for children that consume animal products, and the health benefits of eating vegan.

      I understand your concerns, and I started raising our first daughter on a vegan diet 11 years ago when much less support and awareness was available. Ultimately as parents we have to do what we think is right. Perhaps with more time under your belt as a vegan, and with further reading/research, you will feel more comfortable with your plant-powered choices!

      I wish you luck and hope to bring you more healthy and delicious recipes to help support your journey. :)

  23. lionnfoothills says:

    I was vegetarian early in my adult years for a period of 7 years until I became pregnant with a higher multiple pregnancy and became convinced I “had” to eat meat to create 3 babies. I didnt have internet (back then LOL) and returned to a carnivores eating habits.

    I have had our family very close to a plant based diet several times over the last 20 years but was always swayed either by my husband or one of my children in particular to at least eat lean meats. I couldn’t buy it because I would become physically ill standing at the meat counters so it came into our presence by someone else. Others preparing it 90% of the time as well.

    Since changing my living arrangements over the last 3 years there has been less and less meat in our household. I have been moving closer and closer to vegetarian ever since and eating very little meat.

    I was able to see “Forks Over Knives” about 2 weeks ago and my mind has forever changed! I will never be anything other than a plant eater ever again and 2 of my children feel exactly the same way.

    I feel that I do need to influence them. If they were younger I would still feel the same. I agree with the points you made. My 12 yr old stopped eating school lunch months ago due to the quality and is determined to be a plant eater from now on as well. He was truly moved by the documentary and I am very proud of him!

    Keep up the good work!!

    • Dreena says:

      Indeed FOK has been a game changer for many. It can very hard to make choices that are against mainstream views, especially diet which is also rooted in tradition and has emotional connections for us. Good for you in making recent changes that will benefit your health. Sounds like your 12 year old is wise for his years as well, deciding to forego school lunches. Smart choice!! I wish you the best with your plant-powered journey, and hope to help you on the way. Hurrah for you!

  24. El says:

    The world is truly diverse, from family to family. As you mention in your post, YES, we have a great influence over our children. There is an all important reason for this. Children are not able to make sound decisions for themselves without tools. Parents influence their children in many ways, religion, nutrition or the lack there of, clothing styles, what is and is not important in life, how to be loving, kind and compassionate or not. This is the role of anyone who has any influence on a child’s life. It is silly to use a child as an excuse to attack a lifestyle especially when it is clear that those who have chosen true wealth ((Health)) as a top priority. We are no longer competing with the Jones’s. We no longer have inverted values and place a high priority on the over all wellness of our family, we are also choosing to be the change we wish to see in this world. Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds. The latter cannot understand it when a wo.man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices and cultural traditions.

    Most people go on living their everyday life: half frightened, half indifferent, they behold the ghostly tragi-comedy that is being performed on the international stage before the eyes and ears of the world.

    Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person. Find in Peace in knowing you have done that ! Love is …

    • Dreena says:

      El, thanks for sharing your thoughts and kind words. Indeed it is our parental responsibility to make decisions for our children, and then to help guide them to make decisions for themselves. And, we hope to make the most suitable and best decisions as we can as parents, as hard as those choices might be at any given time.

  25. mattheworbit says:

    Ahhhh.. Well, at the risk of having unpopular opinions..

    Preface: I’m not a health professional, and can’t give health advice. Everything following this is my opinion.

    I really do believe that a vegan diet is one of the healthiest ways of eating possible – if you make sure you’re following what science says with regard to our health. I think it’s also very easy to be an unhealthy vegan, or a healthy vegan who isn’t meeting all of their dietary needs. You can’t just take the animal products out of your diet and continue eating potatoes and carrots!

    If you’re doing it well – veganism is great. But if you’re not, it can have pretty dire consequences (i.e. b12 deficiency). One of the “benefits” of eating meat – I realise there are lots of cons as well (plus I think it’s unnecessary and unethical) is that it’s a concentrated source of vitamins/nutrients for people who don’t eat well. Some would say – too concentrated (which is why people following the SAD often end up unhealthy). But it’s a bandaid. It’s not great for longer term health, due to the lack of fibre, range of vitamins, etc. But it generally gets people through better in the meantime, than a crappily planned vegan diet.

    It’s almost like, if you’re going to become ill as an omnivore or vegan, being an omnivore is most likely to cause illness via excess in some ways, while being a vegan is likely to cause illness due to deficiency. But they both flip/flop. We get a lot more other compounds, antioxidants, and a broader range of vitamins in a healthy vegan diet.

    Sadly, I feel as though there has been a lot of propaganda and bias on both sides of the argument – from the vegan side (vegan “health professionals” saying that b12 is not necessary, it’s “impossible to get enough protein” – completely untrue – etc) and from the meat and livestock association side of things (everything else.. being vegan makes you unhealthy, etc, etc).

    I take my health advice from VeganHealth.org, from Jack Norris and Ginny Messina – because I believe that they’ve shown through their actions that they promote the unbiased scientific truth, they’re willing to admit new information, and they want people to be healthy – even if being vegan isn’t always the easiest option.

    Regardless of whether being vegan is always the easiest option (I still think it’s pretty darn easy, and rewarding) – it’s the option I’ve chosen. And will continue to choose.

    With regard to parenting:
    Every person makes choices that they think are best for them, their family, and the world (I hope). And obviously, the best choices you make for yourself are the choices that I’d hope you make for your children.

    Being vegan can be healthy, science has told us that – so if you’re following the guidelines with your children and ensuring health, I can’t see a problem. Whether it works for everyone, however, has yet to be seen. But you have to be honest with yourself, and hope your ethics can be in accordance with what your body needs for optimal health.

    Every parent “imposes” their blueprint on children – whether that’s morals, religion, dietary/social choices/opinions, way of life, or even the way you dress, etc – psychology has shown us that the way we grow up influences us hugely, both indirectly and directly.

    As a parent, it’s your responsibility to do what you think is best for your children, and your family. That’s the first rule of parenting. You’ve got the power, and the influence – that’s why you’re the parent. It’s your responsibility to teach your children morals, and to think for themselves.

    I think that would be my primary concern. It’s our responsibility to equip ourselves with unbiased, broad-ranging, up to date information about a healthy diet, and continue to be honest with ourselves if things aren’t working.. But if my child can be healthy being vegan (which I think in most cases, they could – and even be healthier than as an omnivore), then that’s the choice I’d make.

    If your child, however, decides when they’re an adult that being vegan isn’t right for them – then I hope people can respect that. I know I’d be terribly disappointed – but if you’ve taught them to think for themselves and to respect life, you’ve got to respect their right to think for themselves. I hope parents would love their children regardless.

    Sorry for the rant!

    • mattheworbit says:

      And I should add…

      Unfortunately, I do see a lot of unhealthy vegans. And my partner (who works at a vegan store), had someone come in the other day asking what they can give to “fatten up” their 1 year old child, because the child was extremely underweight. Terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. Health comes first. Give that child what it needs to survive, and get some professional help – don’t be giving it coconut oil, avocado and nut butter. Well do, while you panic and seek further, professional help.

      Sadly, a lot of vegetarians and vegans mean well, but don’t take the time to look into the science to get it right. They continue to live on the “healthy foods” that are pushed to omnivores – greens, etc – but they don’t think about the protein or variety side of things. If you’re looking in the mirror and you’re pale, exhausted, and your hair is falling out – admit it’s not working! It’s not “detoxing from animal foods”. It’s a problem! Get help!

      If veganism isn’t working for you or your child, your health isn’t worth the risk – seek professional help – try to sort out the problems, and improve it. But if you can’t do it, you can’t do it. And children need our help to survive, so be brave enough to admit if something’s not working…

      But ultimately, vegan for the win! But try to inform yourself. Dreena’s second book has great information on how to raise a healthy vegan child.

      • TrulyScrumptious says:

        Right, because omnivore kids are NEVER underweight. Definitely terrifying, since the parents were vegan (ergo the child’s low weight must be caused by their veganism).
        Oh, wait.
        http://www.chwo-foundation.org/causes-of-a-child-being-underweight.htm
        http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/348/348-271/348-271.html
        http://www.babycenter.com/0_helping-a-child-whos-underweight_64368.bc
        http://www.feeding-underweight-children.com/

        Huh. None of those links mention veganism as a possible cause.

        What’s “terrifying” is that you/your wife diagnosed the cause as veganism without being doctors yourselves. (I do hope your wife suggested a trip to the pediatrician, and didn’t try to give them advice herself.)

        Yes, I agree that there are a lot of uninformed vegans, some of them even parents, but as a group to be terrified about, they’re fairly low on my list. There are more important things to be terrified about.

        • mattheworbit says:

          Hi TrulyScumptious, I musn’t have made myself clear – my apologies.

          I’ve many vegan friends who have had healthy babies, toddlers, and children – and even a few who have now grown up into healthy vegan adults, which is great! I plan to raise my children vegan, as well.

          I’m not saying omnivore kids aren’t ever underweight, I don’t know where you drew that conclusion from.

          I’m not going to make any comments about you assuming my partner was “my wife”, or that my partner is female (he’s not), but anyway..

          My concern was that a person who had a *vegan* child went into a health food store, asking for vegan food items, and asking advice from someone unqualified to give that advice, rather than going to a nutritionist, or doctor, and seeking professional advice, promptly, rather than coconut oil. Of course my partner told her to seek professional advice.

          Hope that clears that up for you!

    • Dreena says:

      Matt, don’t apologize, I welcome the discussion and your perspective. With parenting, we can only hope to do our best, guide, love, nurture, and equip our children with good judgement. When they are adults, that’s when they hopefully take the best of what we’ve give them to build the best lives they can. Their choices are their own then, we are here to help them still, but not make decisions for them.

      I’m just hoping at least one of them will take on my cooking bug and return some of the meal favors. :)

      Thank you also for mentioning one of the resources for vegan nutrition, being veganhealth.org.

  26. jackson1250 says:

    Of course you want to impose your beliefs. Actually, you have no choice in the matter. I can’t visualize you pan frying pork chops for your children or serving them a Coca Cola or a glass of milk to wash down their Big Mac’s.

  27. Lauren M says:

    Wonderfully written! I laugh at the idea that imposing vegan beliefs on our children is harmful. I had to comment because my oldest, who is 9, says similar things to me. She thanks me for dinners she enjoys and says she’s glad her mom knows how to feed her such healthy, delicious foods. She is very aware of food and comments on what she sees her peers eating: junk, junk and more junk. Fruits and vegetables and whole grains were always a priority when I was growing up, but I ate a lot of meat. As I became an adult and realized I felt like sh!t and that the future was likely to include colon cancer (chronic constipation and IBS does that), heart disease and high blood pressure and cholesteral, I wanted to take control of my health. I’m not 100% vegan as I do consume eggs and fish occasionally, but for my family, dairy = poison and meat = death. Plant-based is the way to go!

    • Dreena says:

      Lauren, thanks for commenting, and it’s amazing when our children appreciate wholesome food vs junk, isn’t it?! I see kids eating so much junk out at activities, parties, at school, etc. And yes – I know, I know – that kids want to have some treats for parties and the like. And that’s fine, but very often the junk at parties is just an extension of their everyday diet. Well done on making changes to improve your own health as well.

  28. Dreena says:

    plantstrongmama, I appreciate your thoughts on this. You said it with “that is my job as a parent”. You bet. And, this is a very mindful choice for us, rather than being mindless. I think if parents are working their way through drive-thrus they either aren’t thinking about it, or choosing to ignore it.

    Thanks for chiming in, and I think you’ll enjoy seeing your wee girl develop and embrace more of her diet as she grows.

  29. JoelleMichelle says:

    I attempted a plant based diet 2 years ago, it went well for 8 months though there was only one person who was supportive of my choice, my sister in law. Then hubby came home from deployment and I couldn’t follow through with my decision to eat vegan, I used the excuse of not being able to afford two sets of groceries and the excuse that my husband wasn’t supportive.

    I discovered Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and it’s completely changing my life. I’m going to eat a plant powered diet no matter what! My husband is much more supportive now because he does really want me to be healthy. But when it comes to himself and the thought of our future children eating this way, he’s still not on board.

    I feel SO lucky to be implementing these healthful habits in my life before bringing new life into the world. My children will eat this way because it will be my duty to protect them and give them the best from life. As for the hubs, I know with tact, patience and perseverance I can convince him this choice for our future kids is the right choice. I pray he will follow my good example some day and join me. Sorry to go on and on, but this is above all else the most important thing in my life, and mix it in with my future babies, its a subject near and dear to my heart!

    • Dreena says:

      JoelleMichelle, I’m happy for you to go on and on! I think others will appreciate your viewpoint, as I have never had to manage cooking different for myself and my husband, we’ve made all the dietary changes together. So, I give you a lot of credit for your conviction to continue knowing it’s best for your health, and giving that example to your children. And, as far as your hubs, I always say, “just keep bringing on the tasty food”… it will be hard for him to object. ;)

      I wish you luck, and thanks for commenting. :)

Add Comment Register



Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

Related Interest

Wildside Jar for green smoothies, thick and nut-based sauces and dessert purees. I use mine 1-2x/day.

Twister Jar is the BEST for healthy, homemade salad dressings and sauces




Top Food Blogs  

Read Our Privacy Policy