Friday, August 7, 2020

How Parents Make the Switch to Veganism for the Family

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My husband and I do not have children, we know TONS of vegan parents though, who have healthy, happy children and have learned and managed just fine with being on a 100% plant based diet. For people who are making the switch, and having to change the lifestyle for not just themselves, but their family, I know it must be hard. To all of a sudden not be taking trips to a fast food place, or not having chicken nuggets or even goldfish crackers around – has to be hard on kids.

Recently, someone wrote to me about the change and I asked her if I could share how she handled it with her 2 sons. I thought the way she went about it was really humble and made the effort of getting healthy a family activity, instead of Mom and Dad just forcing it on the kids.  This is what she had to say: (with permission)

“Well, we have two sons who are 7 and 11. They eat pretty well, but I’ll admit, I got pretty lazy with their meals, between sports and friends and me going back to work, there wasn’t much time to plan. So we did a lot of frozen nuggets, processed American cheese and sandwiches with deli meat. We also ate at a McDonalds about once a week, which was a real treat for them. About a month ago my husband had a mild heart attack. He is 38 years old, and it really scared us. He picked up the book “Engine 2 Diet” and decided that he wanted to change every thing. Well, I’m overweight and have some health problems already, and depression and anxiety. When I found out my diet could help that, I decided to change as well. But we hadn’t made the switch for our sons. We thought it would be hard on them, and not fair. We realized that it was a pretty selfish thing on our part, for us to get healthy, while we made our kids sick. We didn’t know how to handle it, so we had a family meeting. Basically, we apologized to our kids. We told them that Mommy and Daddy have learned a lot about what is healthy for our bodies and we want them to have healthy bodies too. We told them that we were sorry for not always giving them what was healthiest for them, but that we’d do a much better job from now on. I told them that, just like Mommy and Daddy don’t want you to do dangerous things like play in the street or play with matches, we don’t want you to do things that hurt the inside of your bodies either. We have told them about how bad drugs, alcohol and cigarettes are and told them that there are foods that are bad like those things. My youngest was completely fine with it all, my older son is having a little harder of a time, he really likes his sugar. We have started to do a lot more as a family, and we now make it a point to be active every day, together. We also have been cooking together. We tell them that we are a team, and that we need their help. I want to do what is best for my boys, I don’t want them to get the diseases that we have. I know it will be hard at first, but so was raising 2 boys so far! My husband and I are the two biggest influences on our sons, we want them to be healthy and stay healthy.”

I am curious to learn how other vegan/plant based parents made the switch, what worked for your family? Or, if you haven’t made the switch, what are you afraid of?

11 COMMENTS

  1. Anne

    Good for her!!! We made the change when my daughter was 3 so she doesn’t even remember eating poorly. We also had a scare, my husband had high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and the doctor said it needed to get in control. Anyway, it has been pretty easy – except for the random stupid comment from people who don’t know any better. My daughter is smart, healthy and never gets sick anymore. She eats tons of vegetables, fruit and grains.

    She adapted in about 2 weeks, and then I guess she realized that that’s all we were going to have in the house. Now, even when she’s at her Grandma’s house she will ask for carrots, apples and lentils!

  2. Steve

    Thanks for posting this. I have a teenage boy and I found out I had type 2 diabetes and made the change, but didn’t talk to him.
    I am terrfied of him getting diabetes, and I really need to talk to him about it. I think apologizing can be really good parenting, I don’t make a habit of it, but I think in this case it might help him out.

    Thanks for the post.

  3. Mom of 4

    Kids are so much more adaptable than we give them credit for. I realized I was making my kids little sugar addicts, by rewarding them with bad food like dairy ice cream! We watched Food Inc. first, and slowly started to make the change. Honestly, we went vegan for financial reasons! Now we know a lot more of the reasons to be vegan, but that was it at first.
    We saved so much money over buying junk and eating out. Even McDonalds for 4 people can cost a lot of money!

    Now they love fruit, we make fruit sorbet and fruit ice cream at home now.

    They are all healthy and happy and even when they are out at friends, the make good choices. One of my friends told me that last weekend my son was at her house playing, her son offered him a cupcake, and he turned it down, and asked if they had any fruit! I was so proud of him.

  4. Donna

    What an inspiration! I made the change (in August), but still haven’t made it for my son. My husband is pretty much vegan at home, but not when we go out to eat. Son is vegetarian at home, but at school it’s a different story. I’ll try this route! 😉 Thanks!!

  5. Kip

    I don’t have children, nor do I intend to have any, but I absolutely love stories like this! To me a huge part of veganism is about taking responsibility… responsibility for our planet, the rights of other humans, of animals, and for our own health and food choices. To be able to take that on board and make change as well as do an overhaul on general family interaction is quite humbling. Kudos to responsible parents!

  6. Liz

    My children are 4 and 2 and we made the change about a year ago after I read “disease proof your kids”. I could not live with potentially giving my kids a disease like diabetes or cancer and wanted them to have every advantage in life. I realized that their nutrition was much more important than even the fanciest school I could send them to.

    I did notice that my 2 year old who was very hyper calmed down a lot after changing his diet. And they don’t get sick nearly as much.

    But we just made the change, didn’t say anything, had a lot of things ready to go like cut up fruit. They resisted some at first, but we didn’t make a big deal about it, we just stopped eating bad foods. I didn’t think we were eating bad before, and I didn’t have any really pressing medical problems, but I didn’t want any either, and neither did my husband.

    They really like pasta and tofu scramble and we have pancakes every weekend!

    Thanks for posting this. I’m glad my kids started young enough. They now know that eating fast food is dangerous, which I think is a step in the right direction.

  7. Terri

    I think as a nation we should apologize to our children for what we have done to them. Have you seen Jamie Oliver’s show? That is just scratching the surface! It’s sad that he still thinks that dairy and meat are healthy at all, but the fact that these kids don’t even know what a vegetable is, that’s horrifying.

    We are raising a generation of sick kids who will become sick adults. We all need to take a step back and get things in order before it’s too late.

    Good for this brave mom! Her kids will have way more advantages in life now because of the choices she is making now.

  8. Kris

    I can’t read about kids and veganism without thinking of my sweet nieces and nephews. (I’ve chosen to be childfree.) None of my siblings with children are open to giving up even meat, despite the fact that their kids aren’t too fond of it. I wish I could have this conversation with them and not have to watch the children I adore become unhealthy adults, but it isn’t my place as their aunt. All I can do is keep setting a healthy, non-violent example, and hope that my family will someday come around. If or when they do, I’ll let you know how the kids handle the switch!

  9. Allegra

    My 15 year old daughter and I went vegan Jan. 1, 2010. I have twins who are 13 and not vegan or even vegetarian, in fact they are mad that I am “making” the vegan. I try to tell them even though I really don’t want to buy the meat, I will if they cook it because it grosses me out. I let them add real cheese to just about everything. I just hope it rubs off on them, the vegan-ness not the cheese.

    Teenagers are different beasts, there are so many battles to pick and choose from.

    My challenges are the expense (I do it because it is important) and I am not that great a cook. I have some great cookbooks and the vegan likes what I make for the most part. It is just hard coming home from work and getting something on the table. and the 15 year old is losing weight that isn’t there to begin with.

    I am making better meals but it ain’t easy.

  10. Nat

    Hi Allegra,

    I’m going to track down some vegan parents of teens so you can help your 15 year old out – I’m not a parent, nor do I know much about the nutrition of kids. I do know lots of teen vegans are out there and making sure they are getting a well balanced diet is really important. You are doing awesome, and I want to commend you for what you and your 15 year old are doing. I hope that you will see changes in your younger children as well. I would imagine it’s a hard age to make any big changes.

    Anything I can do to help out – let me know. I do have some really easy meals that might be of help – I’ll gather them up for you. Thanks so much for commenting!

    with hope,
    Nat

    PS – thank you so much to everyone who has commented

  11. Alexa

    This was an excellent post. I haven’t had children yet, but I’m planning on raising them to eat a plant-based diet. I’m sure there will be struggles, but I hope that I can do it with as much grace as this couple did.

    Thanks for brightening my day.

Nat
I went on a plant based diet after diabetes almost took my life. Now, almost 2 years later not only have I reduced my type 2 diabetes symptoms, I have lost close to 200 pounds (and still losing). This is a place where I write about my journey as I continue the quest for health, and living a good life for today, and long into the future. Get hold of me on nat@cleanseplan.com

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