1. When did you become vegan?
At this point, I believe I have been vegan for almost a year. It has been a gradual change from a vegetarian diet. I’ve never been comfortable consuming animals, but I had little education in how to create a healthy balanced diet. This past year we moved to a small town and I became a stay at home mom. This really allowed me the time to learn and transform our family’s diet.
2. Is your partner also vegan?
My partner is not vegan. He however a great supporter of my wishes. At this point, I believe he only consumes fish and it is a rather rare event. This may sound odd, but he is the primary cook in our house. He thoroughly enjoys the creativity that vegan cooking allows.
3. Did you face any challenges personally in becoming vegan?
The most difficult challenge was giving up cheese. I know it is the classic excuse, but it was hard. It took becoming horribly ill to realize how bad dairy was on our systems. Dairy is not for human consumption.
4. What were your motivations for becoming vegan?
Initial my partner and I started researching nutrition to help our son. He has struggled since birth, and the doctors up until the past month had said he was Autistic. In April we were finally able to meet with a Neurologist who informed us he was not Autistic. While he is not completely free from struggles he still suffers from some hearing difficulties. I do feel that the changes in our diet have helped him tremendously. I’m not sure if my son was ever Autistic, I do believe that limiting his access to processed food has helped him. Becoming vegan was a bi product of us learning more about how food is made and how it affects our bodies.
5. How did you introduce your child to a vegan diet?
There was no formal introduction, we just changed. From time to time the would ask questions about the new product that came into the kitchen. I found that the more I talked to them about food they would on their own, find books in the library about animal rights. For awhile my daughter called Soy Milk, fake milk. That prompted a discussion on where and how the “real milk” is made. Both of our children (daughter 8 years old and son 5 years old) have been very adaptive.
6. How have you taught your children about being vegan? What is their level of understanding regarding a vegan lifestyle?
Because the children are young I take a passive approach to explain why we are vegan. Our lessons are in the kitchen, I find it brings the concept home to see how things are made. My daughter and I have had more in-depth conversations recently, we’ve talked about the concept on non harming and understand what we are consuming (by consuming eating, wearing, using). With my son who is 5 years old, I often try to find children’s books that discuss being kind to animals. I’m assuming as they get older our discussions will become more in-depth.
7. What do your kids eat? And, what do they really enjoy eating?
Everything! children are so adaptive. In the beginning there was the occasional “what the heck is this,” to which I responded try it and then I’ll tell you. Sometimes the “name” of the food item can become overwhelming, so before they can tell me “I don’t like that,” I say “take a bite first and then I’ll tell you.” Works like a charm. My son loves Broccoli, he could eat roasted Broccoli everyday all day. My daughter loves Asparagus. Both children love Black Bean Burritos, Tofu Pudding, and Chocolate Cupcakes.
8. What was the hardest part of transitioning your child?
Getting over the concept of “real” and “fake” food. Soy Milk became “fake milk” and Veggie Burgers were “fake burgers.” As the lifestyle took hold have Veggie Burgers, became the old burgers we ate it past.
9. What obstacles have you faced? (things like handling school, parties, other parents)
Family, we are rather ostracized by my partner’s family. At least once a week my father in law likes to tell my partner about what we are doing wrong. Our logic will not change his opinion. School, has been rather accepting. This was shocking to me at first. Both of my children’s teachers love to ask questions and are very respectful. I am the official treat maker (cupcakes, cookies, candy) for both classes. I took on this responsibility to ensure both can be fully active in all classroom activities. While this is time-consuming, I love the idea of everyone in the class going home and telling their parent they had vegan cupcakes in class! Parents/ other children. I really could live without being told again “your food is weird,” which is common from children who come over to our house. Before people come over I normally try to have the “conversation.” It is always a little awkward, but I really feel like it opens people up to the idea the being vegan is normal. I’m a vegan soccer mom (minus the mini van).
10. What would you tell a parent who would like to teach their children about becoming vegan, or making the switch to a vegan lifestyle in their household?
Read, learn, and ask questions. While in “real life” I know no other vegan parents, social media sites like twitter offer great support. Do not give up, you are making a beautiful choice for your family.
11. What are some of the resources that have helped you?
Twitter has been the greatest resource! It really opened me up to so many families everywhere making the choice to be vegan. For new parent, who are vegan I highly suggest Vive le Vegan!, by Dreena Burton (the book contains information on how to feed a vegan baby/toddler). The website Your Vegan Mom is another of my favorite resources (http://www.yourveganmom.com/).