THE START OF A NEW BEGINNING
In October 2015, my meat and cheese-loving husband watched a documentary called Earthlings. It showed the truth behind a number of incredibly cruel industries including the animal agriculture industry. After about 25 minutes he stopped watching and told me that he wasn’t going to eat animal products anymore. I was baffled, as were all of our family and friends when it came up in conversation. I was 4 months pregnant with our first baby so had my reservations about whether you could grow a healthy baby on a vegan diet. So, I went vegetarian and started doing my research into veganism. I was surprised to find that you, and baby, can be perfectly healthy on a vegan diet. I didn’t want to watch footage of the cruelty as I knew it would affect me deeply. But when I found out about the animal welfare implications associated with the egg and dairy industry, I knew I’d eventually transition to a vegan way of life. That happened when our first baby was 2 months old.
VEGAN BREASTFEEDING & WEANING
I am so pleased we both found our way to veganism before our first baby started eating. Now a mum of two, both of my children have exceeded all milestones and are in the top 10% for weight and height - all on a vegan diet. Not only are they happy and healthy but I am too. I breastfed my first baby for over 2 years. After stopping, I fell pregnant with our second baby who is now 8 months old. No iron deficiencies, no complications, just a perfectly healthy pregnancy!
LIVING MORE CONSCIOUSLY
Our main motivation for being vegan is for the animals. Once we educated ourselves on the truth, we could no longer fund these cruel practices. Since transitioning, we’ve discovered the positive effects on our health and the environment too. It has even had an impact on many other areas of our lives. We are more conscious of food waste, we feel inspired to grow our own food and we certainly question the origins and impact of products more than we used to.
RAISING TO BE KIND
Raising our children vegan is raising them to care. We’re teaching them to be kind to every kind and to think about how their actions affect others. We keep things simple with our 3-year-old. Phrases like ‘cows milk is for baby cows’, are simple for her to understand. When we ask her if she wants to eat animals or for an animal to be hurt, she always answers with a firm no. We give that choice to her.
We are honest with her but we don’t expose her to anything more than these simple truths. We want our children to love animals first, before anything else. Of course, we will assess this as time goes on. My husband and I discuss parenting and how to approach these trickier aspects of life with little ones regularly to ensure that we are both on the same page.
Raising our children vegan in a non-vegan world comes with challenges. But so far, we’ve navigated them easily. We take alternatives to parties so that our daughter isn’t left out. If we’re ever unprepared she knows that we will get her an alternative either later that day or the day after. Vegan options are so readily available now that this isn’t difficult and thankfully she is understanding.
We’ve had a couple of incidents at a nursery where our daughter has been fed non-vegan food which has been upsetting, especially as it has made her sick. However, since moving cities and starting her in a new nursery we’ve had no problems. We’ve even had great chats with the nursery about veganism and offered to bring in alternatives. Thankfully, they have put a lot of effort into creating healthy alternatives for our daughter. All of this is paving the way for any future vegan children going to these nurseries. It also shows how vegan children are healthy and happy.
ADVICE TO OTHER VEGAN FAMILIES
One of the best pieces of advice I have is that ‘knowledge is power’. Do your research on vegan nutrition. Once you are clued up, you will feel a lot more confident dealing with any negative comments that may come your way. There’s a wealth of information online as well as a vegan meal plans for children up to 5-years on the First Steps Nutrition Trust.
I hope sharing my personal family story has been helpful. If you have any questions or would like to chat all things veganism, parenting or life in general, find me on Instagram @scarlettslife_