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New to Veg

Hello! My husband and I were curious about our food, and our health, and out of that curiosity, checked out two documentaries: "Vegucation", and "Frankensteer". Needless to say, without any thought or research into the subject, we decided we HAD to switch to veganism. Well, that's a whole lot harder than it looks. Currently, we are vegetarians, phasing out purchase, by purchase, all of our animal-based foodstuffs and household goods. I wish that we hadn't decided overnight to become vegetarian/vegan, and had done a lot of research first, but that's not the way it happened, and we're committed to making it work, so we are doing our research crash-course style. Oh! How much learning we really have to do! But, I have three kids. One is 11, one is 8, and the youngest is 6. They spend one week with me, the following week with their dad, and it continues to alternate like that. When they get home next week, they are certainly going to be shocked! They have a nearly carnivorous diet at their father's house. For me, meat was never it's own course or side, and merely an ingredient I used to make my meals. We already had meatless days from time to time, but over there, they do not eat rice, rarely eat pasta, and other than tomatoes, pickles, potatoes, corn, and bread, I'm not sure they eat much of anything plant-based. 

My question is, how do I bring veganism up to my kids? I've read enough to know that if we do this right, and especially if I give them supplements, they will get all the nutrients they need. But, I have very little control over what they eat outside of my home. Between Daddy's house, friend's houses, school, after-school activities, and now summer camp, they do more eating outside of my home than inside it. 

I'm not even sure if it's right to pressure my kids to be vegan, or even vegetarian. I do plan to show them a  few, select video clips, to open up a discussion of why we feel buying meat, eggs, and dairy is wrong, and why we will no longer continue to do so. I'm hoping that with the right information about where their food comes from, and the right transitional recipes, they will embrace becoming vegan, and even want to participate when they are not at home. But, I also remember that this is a choice. I tried vegetarianism in high school, and without support from my family, I was skinnier, hungrier, and more unhealthy than I had ever been in my life, so after about nine months, switched back to meat. But, that was because I was eliminating parts of my diet, without replacing or adding food. Now I'm 30. It took me 15 years to come to the decision that I want to be a vegetarian, and 15 more years to realize that possibility. If it took me this long to actually take steps to going vegan, is it ethical for me to enforce a change to a vegan lifestyle on my kids when they are with me? Especially if after seeing where their food comes from, and knowing some basic, kid friendly facts about how to be healthy as a vegan, they still want to continue to eat meat, eggs, and dairy?

Sometimes, as a parent, you have to know when to make choices for your children, and when to allow kids to make their own choices. I'm not sure how I feel on this particular subject. I know that it is my responsibility to offer them a healthy diet, and encourage them to make healthy eating choices, but is enforcing a vegan lifestyle going too far? 

I would love to hear from a variety of sources. Does anybody else have older kids, tweens, or teenagers? How did your kids handle it? Did anybody else change to a vegan lifestyle AFTER your kids were already in school full-time? Many of us have a joint-custody agreement, and the other parent has an omnivorous house. How do you, or do you, bring this up to the other parent? 

Thank you so much for any replies, tips, and advice, as it is most certainly welcome! I'm so thrilled to finally be able to change to a veg lifestyle, and am still really "green", so I need a LOT of help!

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