My son is now 10 years old and a lifelong vegan. He is thriving on a vegan diet. I have seen young mums pushing prams with broken up pieces of a McDonald’s burger as food for their baby – with the babies bottle filled with cola. I appreciate everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they have however when it comes to the nutrition of a baby and child you really must research so you are doing the best you possibly can. I may not be perfect however I am confident that a vegan diet is the best for my son and I hope that he continues with this healthy and compassionate lifestyle for the rest of his life.
He doesn’t miss out at all! He loves burgers, sausages, fishless fish fingers, pizzas, curries, ice cream, yogurts, chocolate, cakes, biscuits – all vegan friendly. He loves fresh fresh fruits and raw vegetables and recently told me that mangoes are better than chocolate!
He loves tofu, beans and one day I will find a way to make him eat lentils – my fav!
However don’t get me started in the horrendous ingredients in kids food…. cochineal, gelatine, aspartame – do I want my son to eat the jelly made from boiled bones, tendons and ligaments of dead animals or squashed dead beetles? Would any parent if they knew what it was?
Karin 🙂 Founder and Director of VeggieVision TV.
Raising a child to eat meat is more extreme than veganism
By Elena Orde, editor of The Vegan
You may have seen recent news stories about a malnourished child who was removed from his parents. A sad case, of course, but given that malnutrition affects over 3 million people in the UK, why has this particular story made international headlines? Because the child was vegan.
In the wake of this news, chat show The Wright Stuff posed the question, ‘Abuse to put children on a vegan diet?’ while the Telegraph asked ‘Can vegans ever be good parents?’ You can spot the media bias a mile off.
Let’s debunk the health claims first. Vegan diets can be suitable for anyone, of any age. That’s the position of the British Dietetic Association, the qualified experts. Vegan or otherwise, all parents should take care to ensure that their children get the right nutrition. But, given that babies and children can get everything they need and more from a vegan diet, why does the concept provoke such judgement, fear and anger?
We raise children to love animals, to care for and protect them. From talking cows and chickens in picture-books, to TV shows like Peppa Pig, to pretty much every Disney film, animals take centre stage, and children are encouraged to empathise with them.
When children are simultaneously fed meat and other products taken from animals, this sends a very confusing message. Children are often upset when they find out that the meat on their plate comes from the animals they have been taught to love. Who can blame them? By that age, children already understand that animals can feel pain and distress, have desires and emotions and don’t want to die – just like them.
Children are then conditioned to see meat as food, and to forget it was once part of a living, breathing animal. Most parents wouldn’t dream of telling their kids how animals are killed, presumably because the truth is considered inappropriate to explain to young children. But if the truth is too disturbing, surely we should stop funding it, rather than help to keep it hidden.
It’s important for children to understand about nutrition and to know where their food comes from. But ‘Tales from the slaughterhouse’ tends to not make the cut for bedtime reading. A school trip to an orchard sounds far better than one to an abattoir.
Vegans are often penalised for ‘forcing’ their child to eat like them. But it’s unreasonable to expect a vegan parent to give their children chicken nuggets and cheese toasties just because this is what most people do. All parents make decisions on behalf of their children – left to their own devices, kids would wear toilet paper and eat glitter.
A vegan parent will have chosen their lifestyle for all kinds of reasons: be it love for animals, concern about the environment, or a desire to improve their own health. Why wouldn’t they want to share all of these benefits with the people most important to them?
Of course, any child can choose to change their diet when they’re old enough. People raising vegan children simply want this to be a choice informed by facts and compassion rather than habit. Instead of teaching children to love cats and dogs, and eat cows and pigs, vegans teach their children to care for and value the lives of all animals – a far more consistent viewpoint.
Vegan diets are often described as being ‘controversial’ or ‘extreme’. But if we know we can live healthy, happy lives without killing animals, what now seems the most controversial and extreme choice?
You can go vegan with The Vegan Society’s 30 Day Vegan Pledge (www.vegansociety.com/pledge). Sign up for free to receive daily emails providing advice, info and delicious recipes.
The Vegan Society is a registered educational charity (no. 279228) that campaigns for change and provides information and guidance on all aspects of veganism.
We are thankful to Elena and The Vegan Society for this super article.