There are many, many reasons to raise vegan kids.
Aside from the obvious benefits to health, the environment, and the animals.
I also believe that veganism is an excellent vehicle to teach kids valuable lessons in kindness, healthy self-esteem, and justice.
Let’s begin with kindness.
Veganism is all about KINDNESS.
So many parents want their kids to be kind to others.
I want my child to not just know kindness, but to live it.
I don’t want him to pay lip service to it.
Real kindness is unconditional.
And for me to teach this to him, I need to show it myself.
Because kids learn through example, not through our words.
If it’s ok to be kind to some animals (e.g. dogs) but not others (e.g. pigs or chickens) – then by a child’s logic, we should be able to be kind to some people but not others.
If we can discriminate against beings based on their species, then why not their race? Or their age? Or gender? Or sexual orientation?
Double standards are confusing, and I want the lesson of kindness to be as clear as day to my child.
I want him to know the real meaning of kindness.
Veganism promotes healthy SELF-ESTEEM.
I don’t want my child to have an overinflated ego or an artificial sense of entitlement. I don’t want him to be narcissistic, or believe that he’s superior to everyone else.
What I DO want, is for my child to recognise his own wonderful uniqueness – and to respect the wonderful uniqueness in others, too.
I want him to know that we ALL have strengths and talents, and we all have vulnerabilities.
I want my child to appreciate his strengths and make the most of them. And I want him to know that it’s ok to have vulnerabilities and challenges, and that they don’t make us “bad” or “inferior” or “weak”.
Just because someone can’t play basketball very well…
Just because someone can’t read yet…
Just because someone can’t speak in words we understand…
Just become someone looks different to us…
Just because someone has 4 legs instead of 2…
Just because someone says “woof” or “moo” instead of “hi”…
…doesn’t make them any less deserving of kindness and respect.
Veganism teaches FAIRNESS.
I don’t want my child to take unfair advantage of others.
I don’t want him to exploit others.
I don’t want my child to steal something that doesn’t belong to him – whether that’s someone’s lunchbox, their home, their skin, their baby, or their life.
I want him to know that everyone has the right to live a peaceful, happy, and fulfilled life – and that others do not merely exist for our benefit.
Do I force my child to be vegan?
Right now, my child is young.
I know that one day, he might choose to eat animals.
And that’s his decision. It’s not up to me to decide his future.
What I can do, is to surround him with the optimal environment – one that promotes kindness, compassion, tolerance, fairness, and justice.
What I can do, is provide him with safety, comfort, healthy food, clean water, rest, creative outlets, fresh air and sunshine, nurturing relationships, and a strong community.
What I can do, is to be the best role model I can be, and to have the qualities that I would like to see in him.
I can’t teach him kindness if I am cruel to others.
I can’t teach him respect if I disrespect others.
I can’t teach him fairness if I am unfair to others.
I’m sure there are plenty of ways to teach kids these lessons.
However, given that kids learn best through watching, rather than listening – I choose to demonstrate the qualities that I want to see in him.
In fact, if our words and actions are contradictory – then our actions will take precedence, every time. That’s why kids don’t always do what we say, but will always watch what we do.
The beliefs that we hold as adults, will tend to be taken on by our kids.
If we believe eating dogs is wrong, our kids will tend to believe that too.
If we believe that hitting others is ok, then our kids will tend to believe that too.
If we believe that unkindness, disrespect, unfairness, and injustice are ok in some situations – then our kids will tend to believe that too.