As a vegan parent of a two-year-old, I liked this list of things she wrote about how we veg parents can share our veg values with our kids:
“Read books and watch movies that affirm and reinforce vegan values. VegBooks lists over 500 titles.” “Visit an animal sanctuary. Exposing vegan kids to rescued farm animals is so important — it helps them make the connection between their cruelty-free lifestyle and the animals they are saving.” “Get together with local veg families so that your kids will have the opportunity to meet other like-minded kids, and you’ll get to meet other like-minded parents. If you live in the NYC area, join my meet-up group: NYC Vegetarian and Vegan Families. If a meet-up group like that doesn’t exist in your area, think about starting one.” “Show your kids the power of activism! If they feel strongly about a specific animal or issue, encourage them to join a protest, write a letter to a newspaper, have a vegan bake sale, hand out literature, or create an art project. This will empower them and teach them to be a voice for the voiceless.” “Search for websites and blogs about raising veg kids. Many of them, including my own, RaisingVegKids.com, offer resources, articles, and support for vegan families.” “Make holidays special. Instead of focusing on what kids can’t do or eat, make vegan versions of traditional dishes, and even crafts. For example, make a vegan gingerbread house or egg-free potato latkes, and color papier-mâché Easter eggs.” “Cook and bake delicious vegan recipes with your kids. Order the book, Vegan Lunchbox.” “When dining out at a non-vegan restaurant, look to the side dishes (instead of the meat- and dairy-heavy kid’s menu), where you’ll find healthy and yummy choices such as veggies, beans, rice, etc.” “Adopt a rescued farm animal (virtually). Farm Sanctuary will send you a picture of an animal of your choice with some fun details about him or her. Your kids can frame it and keep it in their room, and even visit their adopted animal at the sanctuary. They can even bring the picture to school and tell their classmates all about it, effectively spreading the message. Of course, if you have the space, adopt a real rescued farm animal whom kids can help care for and love.” “Be an active parent when it comes to birthday parties and school events. Find out what is being served, and if it’s not vegan, make or buy a similar vegan version so that your child will not feel left out. Make enough for the other kids, too, so that they can see first-hand how delicious compassion can taste.” “Show your kids that being vegan is fun! Make vegan pancakes on the weekend, or have a vegan pizza party on a school night. Make things like DIY vegan ice cream sundaes, or, on movie night, popcorn with vegan butter.”
In the books department, let me suggest Granny Gomez and Jigsaw. The illustrations are cute and friendly. The story is funny and non-preachy. And it’s appropriate for reading to any age. And if you can’t visit a farmed animal sanctuary or sponsor a rescued animal, you can still visit the local animal shelter and simply remind your kiddos that pigs and chickens are not all that different from cats and dogs. Helping your children develop emapthy for any nonhuman species is a good thing!
But obviously, the more challenging thing about vegan parenting isn’t the issue of instilling veg values in our children. For most of us that will come naturally. The more difficult aspect of veg parenting is dealing with the nonvegans who are critical of our choices. Many nonvegans won’t say anything, or if they do say something it’s a geniune question. But some nonvegans will actively interfere with your parenting choices. For example, they will tempt your child with nonvegan foods or they will lecture your child about meat-eating. Honest conversations with your child and with anyone who cares for him/her will help overcome those challenges. There will be difficulties, but they are not barriers. And there are plenty of us vegan parents who are more than willing to help brain storm solutions and help you problem-solve.