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Vegan Mothers

I want to know how hard it is to parent a child as a vegan. I've been thinking a lot about this lately - what if your child doesn't want to be vegan? What happens when they go off as teenagers to eat with their friends?? At what point do you let them make their own decisions?

personal anecdotes, stories, etc. will be appreciated because i'm just not sure that i even want to have kids if they're  going to break my heart.

once you have kids you realize there are just sooo many ways they can break your heart when they get older . . . .

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Hey Rachlove2 (Rachel?),
Not that I have kids (I don't)....so I'm probably the worst one to give advice on this. But, just using common sense......

I think you raise your kids the way you want to raise them. You teach them your beliefs, and what you think they need to know to become the respectable adult you will hope they one day become. Of course they will do whatever it is they want to do as they get older. I'm the youngest out of 3 sons. My oldest brother is a surgeon, the middle one a lawyer, and......I play drums! I'm sure my parents never thought they would be raising and bringing up a musician. I know it was not in their plans when they looked at me for the very first time. But I do have to say, they supported me every single step of the way on my path to where I am today and let me follow through with my dream, one that I had as a very young child(Thanks!). That's not always the case. Just like you might one day want to have a vegan child, I don't think when you were 5 (or me for that matter as well) your parents thought you would become one. But something they did, something they taught you....maybe not directly...lead you to become who, and what you are today. If you one day choose to have children, just teach them what you think is important......eventually they will make the right choice for themselves......and all you can do at that point is know you did your best....and support them.
I hope this helps.
-dave

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And they will break your heart even when they're little.  That just comes with becoming a parent and you deal with it.  My children are sometimes veg*n, and other times, they want the yucky stuff.  I prepare healthy, yummy vegan meals at home, and when we go out to eat, well, everybody makes their own choices.  I'm o.k. with that because I feel that my kids are too young to understand the reasons for veg*nism.  At 3.5 and 5.5, they are too young to hear about factory farming, and they are too young to understand about cholesterol and other health aspects.  I don't keep the truth from them, but I give them the glossed-over, Cliffs notes version of things at this point.  I hope that I don't catch a lot of sh!t for sharing how I am raising my kids.  I admire all parents who try to do the best for their kids, whatever that may be.  Also, I should add that I was an omni when my youngest was born, and became vegan when he was almost 3.  I am expecting again, and really I haven't given much thought to his future dietary habits, other than that I will breastfeed exclusively.  When you have kids, you want what is best for them, and you want them to be happy.  There are a lot of disappointments along the way (and I speak from personal experience, looking back on myself as a child), and like I said earlier, there are disappointments from the beginning.  We all build everything up so much, and the reality is often beautiful, but very different.  Even when we are happy that things are the way they are, its bittersweet. 

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Lovely advice so far. Really the best thing to do is give them information and tools for life then show them by example. Raising kids is hard, vegan or not. It is so worth it though. Everyone makes mistakes so don't give yourself a hard time about it. Children are individuals and need to be treated as such. Tell them information according to their personality and interest, not solely their age. Raising children in a compassionate manner will show them into the world as a place of beauty. I think if more little kids knew that they take milk from baby cows and that hamburgers are dead cows and the cows get hurt and on and on, the kids would probably not want to eat all that. Children are very intelligent and capable of making decisions. Provide information suitable for the child and they'll do the rest. Keep in mind that when the babies of today are older, veganism won't be as radical or extreme as it seems today. I'd love to think it will be common, considering how neccesary it is if we want to be living on a healthy planet in healthy bodies. I became vegan almost a year ago when my son was three. We were omni before that. He liked eating chicken and fish, but he likes the idea of saving the animals and eating healthier now. It's important when we go out that I make sure we have lots to snack on. If we go for supper at someones place, I make sure they know what we can and cannot eat. I've been lucky in that my family is very supportive. Around Christmas we stayed at Mom's for a couple weeks and everyone ate 95% vegan while we were there. I brought so many recipes and Mom even stocked her cupboards with special items. When we see some yummy treat that's not vegan, we talk about what we can make at home that is even healthier and tastier. If they are raised on healthy and tasty vegan food, my guess is if they had a taste of something that is not, it would not taste very good. Everyone shows their children the values and morals they have. Do what you feel is right.

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Children learn their parents' morals. Whatever they truly are. A parent can teach their children the best of things, but if in their heart they are not true to their own principles and convictions, the child will grow accordingly. Every child will stray in some way, but "train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not forget". In the final count, he will have learned your heart. How could you teach your child to be anything except for what you believe in? Being inconsistent and uncertain is the most certain way to drive your childrens' belief in you away. Rearing children is always difficult, having set standards makes it much easier than others who just go with it. (Like, taking time and effort to put dinner in the oven versus stopping by MickeyD's on the way home--benefits are pretty clear for those who bother to look for them). ;)

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I was considering your thoughts of not having children when I remembered a conversation I had with a Catholic woman a few months ago. She's quite a bit older than me. She was remembering way back when, and how seriously everyone in the Catholic church used to take the birth control ban. Her thoughts on this were that, had it not be for people's willingness to go ahead and have their children, there wouldn't be many Catholics in the world right now. The fruitfulness order brought more Catholics in the world to keep things going. I am not Catholic, (nor am I Mormon -- the two big questions I get when people see me with my brood), . . . the analogy is. . .bringing vegan children into this world is the best way to provide for our Earth's future.  ;)

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. the analogy is. . .bringing vegan children into this world is the best way to provide for our Earth's future.  ;)

Well put. While this is not the only reason a person should consider having or not having kids it is a good point. I am one of those people that for many reasons has decided not to have children and this is one point that does bother. knowing that I would raise the type of child that I want around in the world. A good book to read is Raisin vegetarian Children. Bottom line follow your heart.

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As practicallly a kid myself, I just want to say how much I would have appreciated a vegan upbringing.  When you're a kid and you just stuff ice cream and chicken nuggets into your insatiable mouth, someone needs to be there and guide you to make the right choices.  Sometimes I feel so guilty for unknowingly eating that crap all my childhood.  How old was I when I put a face on my dinner?  I dont know, 7 or so?  But how long before I realized how much animals suffered? 18 years!  Ridiculus!  A vegan upbringing should be default for all children.  If once they get old enough and decide to munch corpses, so be it.  Atleast they spent a bunch of years not doing so! 

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The only way my daughter could ever break my heart... is if something tragic happened to her, and I didn't have her anymore.  My mother raised me the same way - a mother's love is instant, powerful - and forever.  In my family - raising a vegan child is just NOT going to happen.  My daughter, however, is incredibly in tune with her body.  I feed her the best things - including the meat she wants.  She sees both sides - and in time will make up her mind.  The best things I can give my daughter are love, devotion, support, respect....and knowledge.  I would never try to cause her to be vegan by discussing meat in a disparaging way - she knows that I make my choices because I feel fruits/veggies are the best thing for my body.  I supply all the different pieces of what I deem to appropriate knowledge - never trying to skew her opinions.  Well - that's not true, I do try to skew her opinions in the way that I teach acceptance and equality - and the fact that our individual differences are what make us such interesting people.....  :)

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I don't want children myself..but I believe if you raise a child with morals, to be kind to others and be truthful to themselves it doesn't matter what they eat (or don't eat). 

If you provide vegan foods and practices  in your household and your child when they grow up decides they don't want to be vegan..that's their choice. You provided the tools for your child to be a sound moral vegan, if they only lose the vegan part of that, you've still raised a wonderful  person.

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rachlove2,

children, no matter how you raise them WILL break your heart.  i have a teen daughter and i am a teacher of 12-15 year olds.  i have to tell you that no matter how you raise them with all the morals and ethics that you value, they will make decisons that will leave you asking, what did i do wrong.?'  in part, you probably did nothing wrong and its just a child finding his or her own way.  i have taught thousands of children and i have educated them from the 'best' and 'worse' of family circumstances.  some of the kids who come from in tact, two parent, middle class homes, sometimes are the absolutely most disturbed people.  however, some kids i have educated have parents incarcerated, have been abused, in foster homes, and occassionally homeless have surpassed many children who come from priveleged homes.  sometimes you never know.  i have been a single parent for my daughters entire life.  we live a middle class life and thank goodness, she has listened to most of what i have taught her.  she is a very compassionate young lady.  she is bright, strong, and self assured.  she is a leader in her group and she is respectful to adults.  however, she is lazy and a procrastinator.  she wears crazy clothes and listens to music i cannot understand.  her room is a mess and she is mopey at times. she stole some earrings 2 years ago and i was totally devastated when the stores security officer called me to come pick her up. why did she do it- she had money?  sometimes i look at her and want to strangle her but mostly i look at her and wish i had another just like her.  in short, she is awesome!!!

when i went vegan a year ago, she ate meat.  i purchased meat, i fixed it, and she loved it.  when she wanted fast food, i bought it without grimacing.  i gave her material to read and being the person that she is, she began reading articles about animal sufferings and the impact meat eaters have on the  already fragile environment.  6 months ago, thru her own choice, she became veggie!  i know for a fact that she does not eat meat away from home.  she is a woman of conviction and knows that i love her no matter what she does.  if one day she comes home and tells me she wants a beef burger, i will of course ask why but then support her choice.  she is almost an adult and i will not be the kind of parent who insists a child do as i do- not because it is right but simply because its my way.

so if you are wondering if kids are worth it then the parent and teacher in me says YES!!! i have never doubted my decision to be either and i can honestly say that kids have given me much more than what i have given them- they gave me a purpose.  take your time in deciding, it really is life changing!

good luck

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Well said, Veronica66, and thank you.  You raise your children to be the kind of people you want them to be, of course.  But ultimately, you really want to raise children that are secure and intelligent enough to be who they are for the right reasons, whether you agree or not.

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My mother did not rais me veg*n But it was the way that she raised me that led me to be the type of person that I am today. She always gave the room to be my own person and make my own choices. She always supported me and helped me learn from my mistakes and not give up when I fell.
I was brought up on a farm with all organic vegetables. we grew all our own food except for a bit of fresh stuff in the winter. I never had access to the sorts of proccesed foods others brought in their lunch and usualy turned it down when offred. We did have meat growing up but it was usualy the smaller portion of the meal. We had a deep conection with the earth and it has always stayed with me.
For a bit of time in highschool i went really unhealthy and got fat and pail and sick. My senior year I put it back together and decided to go vegetarian with my moms support. I lost the weight and got back in to bike riding. A couple of years later I lost my mom to breast cancer. This brought me to examine the food I ate and the world that I live in even closer. I've been a bit up and down with raw and vegan for the last few years but have settled on a diet that is happy for me vegan(about 80% raw). I know that she would have supported me in these decisions too.
I ramble a bit but I guess my point is that A mothers love reaches far and wide and long. Sometimes you might not even know the extent to witch it effects your kids but it does and will stick them forever.

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Reading all of your posts has reminded me of the reasons I love this community. 

I understand both side of the argument and have just recently had this discussion with my omnivore husband.  Boy, did it get a little heated.  I think raising a child to be healthy, morale and well informed is the best way to go.  I've come to the decision to raise them as best I can and give them the knowledge to make their own choices.  While their diet will be predominately veg*n I will not stop them from eating what they want....even if it may be animal flesh.  It is a compromise that I've had to make with my husband.  There are so many things that have changed; since after we were married is when I changed my eating habits.

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This is such an interesting conversation! I can't believe it didn't go further... In fact, I was just looking through a bunch of old VegWeb posts (from before I was an active member), and SO MANY fascinating threads didn't go any further than 1 page! :o I'm glad so many people are here now & offer so many different perspectives to each topic! :D

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