Thank you to everyone who filled out my reader survey over the past month! If you haven’t filled it out (it’s super quick, just 3 questions), it’s still open – I have been really enjoying all the feedback and getting to know YOU! You can take the survey here.
One thing that a reader asked me about was:
How to explain why other people chose not to be vegan (since it is so obvious to kids, right). Any tips? Experiences?
I actually had one of these experiences just this weekend. My 3 year old, Zeb, has been a vegan since birth, but he doesn’t really understand that we are “different” from other people. He knows there are some foods which are “daddy’s” (“Daddy” is an omnivore) but that’s about as far as it goes.
However, we went grocery shopping together on the weekend, and there are now 2 interactive “sound buttons” for kids to play with: a chicken clucking near the egg section, and a cow mooing next to the milk section. Zeb just thought it was funny (I think he was imagining some fluffy chickens hiding on the other side of the wall).
We got home later and a guest had brought over some Cheezels (cheese flavoured chips, if you don’t know what they are). I checked the ingredients to confirm they weren’t vegan, and told my older son that the chips had milk in them. Zeb overheard, and he was like, “Mmm milk!”. It was then that I realised, of course Zeb would think that anything to do with “milk” would be made from “plant-based milk”! So I explained to Zeb that some people drink milk from cows. And that cow’s milk was in these chips.
The expression on his face was priceless. I wish I had my camera ready. The confusion, the disgust! “Cow milk?! Yuck!!!” he exclaimed.
That afternoon I reflected on this exchange. If a 3 year old understands veganism so quickly, so easily, why are vegans such a minority group? Full disclaimer: I don’t preach to my kids (or anyone, actually) about veganism, I’m too introverted for that. My 3 year old son honestly came to his own conclusion that drinking cow’s milk is “yuck”.
So back to the original question: how do we explain to our children why other people make choices to eat animal products?
It was difficult to explain to my 3 year old why there was cow’s milk in chips. “Some people drink milk from cows,” was my weak explanation. I mean, what else should I say?
“Some people like the taste of milk from cows”?
“We’ve been brainwashed to think that we need cow’s milk for calcium”?
I can’t even explain it to myself why I find dairy (or any other animal products) in a wide range of foods. Do people just not care what they are eating these days?
Instead of trying to explain why I hate humanity and the total disregard of the continuous abuse of the meat & dairy industries *deep breath* I find it better to explain why we don’t eat animal products. I find books to be an excellent way to explain life issues to my children, and explaining veganism is no exception. That’s why I’ve ordered both of these books by Ruby Roth as Christmas presents for my kids.
Although these books are excellent to explain why WE don’t eat animals, they might not explain why other people choose to eat animals. But let’s not focus on the ignorance of others – instead, let’s focus on why we are vegans. Let’s focus on kindness, compassion, and love. Our children will learn that as vegans, we are a minority group in this non-vegan world, but they will understand WHY we are making these choices to live a plant-based lifestyle.
To the anonymous reader who asked the question: sorry I didn’t exactly answer your question, but I hope this post helps you!
Please leave your questions or comments below, I’d love to know what other questions you have about raising vegan children :)