Vegan parenting is always under a microscope for the decisions they make for other family members, including but not limited to pets and kids. While some parents leave it up to their kids to decide if veganism is a diet that’s right for them, many vegan parents raise their children as vegans, too.
One vegan parent, Annabel Fenwick Elliott, vowed to raise her toddler on a strict diet of plant-based foods, making many kid favorites, such as traditional ice cream, out of the question.
In an article by the NY Post, her son Jasper survives on a diet of oatmeal, coconut-based yogurt, various vegetables, chickpeas, beans, breast milk, and baby-safe supplements. According to this vegan mama: “he’s never once been sick and has hit all the milestones.”
“I’m starting Jasper off on a plant-based diet until he’s old enough for me to explain why,” Annabel said. “After that, he can make his own choices about what to eat.”
Annabel stopped eating meat in 2011 and wished she had been raised vegan herself. One of the main reasons was that she had learned how large volumes of meat and cow’s milk are made.
“I did ask the questions as a child, ‘Where does meat come from?’ and ‘Isn’t it wrong to kill animals?’ but the answers were always vague,” she explained. “No one ever explicitly said: ‘We are gentle with dogs because they have feelings and we don’t want to hurt them. Pigs also have feelings, but it’s fine to hurt them.’ But that’s the subtext if you’re feeding your child sausages.”
Now, especially as a mom, she said it makes her sick. “If my parents had told me all this when I was five, I would have turned vegan then,” admitted Annabel, who believes consuming dairy products is worse than meat.
“You can’t be a vegetarian on ethical grounds and still eat dairy. It’s so much worse than the meat industry,” she argued. “I was so devastated that I had to give up cheese.”
According to the article, she says that seeing fellow parents feed their children animal byproducts both saddens and infuriates her because she says they have no idea about the abuse the creatures have suffered.
“All these kids eating something that comes from such a cruel, dark place and they have no idea, usually because their parents don’t,” she explained.
Annabel said she struggles to not “lecture” others — “unless they ask,” of course — but wished she had learned it in school.
“It takes a lot of restraint for me not to say to mums I know: ‘Would you want your dog or cat to have the life of a factory-farmed cow? No? Then don’t buy ice cream!'” she said.
She has encouraged curious parents to consider introducing their children to a vegan diet and not just about the animal saving aspect, but for health as well.
Annabel’s most important tip for parents is to “be honest” when children ask about the origins of their food.
“They’re never too young to get the facts,” she said.
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