Nobody said raising kids would be easy, especially vegan kids....in Wyoming. The first couple of years were actually quite easy. I have a good handle on understanding the nutritional needs of a growing kid (important to know, vegan or not). Cordelia has been thriving. She is extremely healthy, growing like a weed and has a well-balanced diet. Now, we have certainly had issues with pickiness, but those are dealt with easily enough. I am incredibly confident that we are raising children who will be healthy and compassionate. Elise, I suppose, is not technically vegan yet, as she is subsisting wholly on milk; human milk is considered an animal product I would guess. She will be raised vegan just as we are raising her older sister.
We are entering into a new phase with Cordelia. She is becoming more aware that she is different than others.I tend to think of it as being somewhere between kids with food allergies and religions that are outside the majority. Obviously there are food restrictions, but they are upheld as part of our deeply held beliefs. I know many a friend and family member have wondered why we are doing this to our kids. Why would we make their lives more difficult?!
I do have an answer for that...we don't look at it as something we are inflicting upon our children, but rather a gift we are giving them. The right thing isn't always the easiest thing to do, but that doesn't make it any less important. Now, I don't know what your views are and it isn't my job to tell you how to live your life, but for our family this issue is deeply important. I have had people wonder about us imposing our views on our kids and I say that is exactly what all parents do---isn't it? Eric and I are just trying to raise our kids to be kind and caring people and for us, veganism is the right choice.
Obviously this won't always be an easy ride for our girls. We understand that there are times when they will feel bad about being different. Just the other day Cordelia was at a party and couldn't have cake (there were other vegan treats for her) and she was sad that she couldn't be just like her friends. I felt bad that she was unhappy, but I simply explained that we are vegan and we only eat vegan food. I offered her an alternative and she accepted it, coming back a few minutes later to proudly tell me the other kids wanted to have her treat. I wish that I could say that it will always be so easy, but of course it won't.
Our strategy right now is to educate her to an appropriate degree (obviously we aren't discussing factory farming). She understands that some people are herbivores and others are carnivores (omnivores, more accurately), just like animals.
We have been working to help her understand that our food, all of it, comes from plants. We try to involve her in the process to drive that message home. She helps to water the plants, pull weeds, and pick the food from the garden. She helps to choose food at the market and helps me at nearly every meal. Elise is already with us on all of these adventures and will increase her involvement as she is able.
While Eric and I cannot promise that it will always be easy to be vegan (who said life is easy?) we do feel confident that it is the right choice for our family.
Yesterday, as Cordelia awoke from her nap, I asked her if she wanted a snack. She replied,"I do want a snack, but remember to make it vegan, that means it doesn't come from animals."