One question I get asked a lot after I tell people that I am the vegan mother of four children is:
Are your children vegan?
I always think it is an odd question. I can’t imagine being a vegan and raising meat eating children. The idea of cooking separate meals within a family environment is just plain silly. To answer the question, yes my children are vegan and they will eat vegan as long as I purchase and prepare their meals.
With increasing rates of obesity and type-2 diabetes among American children, raising my children as vegans is the best choice for our family. I know that I am blessed, having given birth to four healthy children without any complications, however I do feel that excellent health is much more about maintenance rather than luck.
The constant in our household is lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Most meals (we indulge from time to time) are cooked from scratch and more often than not, nothing goes to waste because my children clean their plates and ask for more at almost every meal. We don’t buy a lot of juice. If we are thirsty we mainly drink water. We go through a lot of broccoli, fresh garlic, onions, parsely, cilantro, green onions, apples, bananas, pears, carrots, and peppers of all types. We eat basmati rice, cous cous, we buy dry beans (pinto, black, navy, garbanzo) and soak them before cooking, we also eat a lot of other grains (barley, quinoa, bulgar, millet). We cook brown and orange lentils. We us olive oil, sesame oil, vegetable oil and vegan margarine. With such an interesting variety to choose from we manage to keep the menu exciting.
Cooking with fresh wholesome ingredients plays a big part in whether or not your children will eat healthy for a life-time rather than part-time. My eldest will eat an entire container of cherry tomatoes. My middle son will beg for a banana smoothie to start his day. My youngest son will eat just about anything you place in front of him. All of my children have been or are currently breast-fed. I believe that breastfeeding is absolutely the single most important thing that you can do for your baby. Breastfeeding helps children develop healthy appetites as well as a healthy immune system.
Vegan children are not as picky eaters and tend to be just as adventurous as their parents. I love this. I don’t get strange looks when I use curry spices or when making a sofrito for my spanish yellow rice, or when I use seaweed or any other not so average spice or flavor combination.
I would love to hear from other vegans out there who are raising vegan children and vegans who are not raising vegan children. What are the choices of the different households? What is grocery shopping like? Are you a meat eating parent with a child who refused to eat the Standard American Diet? Are your children vegan?