10 October, 2007

Aren't you forcing your beliefs on your kid?

The fact that my daughter has been vegan since conception really riles some people up, as if by being vegan she's being sheltered from all the joy and fun there is in the world. Frankly, this is bullshit.

ALL parents "force" beliefs on their children. Passing your beliefs down to your children is a fundamental part of parenthood, and people do it in hundreds of ways that are never questioned. People indoctrinate their children with religious beliefs all the time; no one bats an eye if Pastor Fred teaches about sin and damnation and gives a child nightmares about burning in the fires of Hell. Yet, if a parent teaches a child about treating animals with care, and how every living creature has a fundamental right to bodily autonomy, it's seen as deviant and potentially harmful.

In the case of infant circumcision, a parent's beliefs are literally carved into their son's bodies - a newborn baby has no religious beliefs, and cannot consent to or decline the operation to remove a perfectly healthy, functional piece of his penis - and yet this is seen as less damaging and controversial then raising a child without animal-derived food, clothing, and entertainment.

As a parent, I feel that it's my duty to try to raise my daughter to be a caring and compassionate person, and to extend those feelings to all creatures, not just other humans. From the time she could communicate with us, her father and I have taught her to treat animals gently and to approach them with care and respect. At 5 1/2, she's the kind of kid who stops to watch the ants on the sidewalk, moves snails so they don't get accidentally stepped on, and who apologizes to the cats if she accidentally startles them. She knows that we share this planet with lots of animals, and that most don't want anything to do with people, and she's perfectly ok with that. She doesn't feel the need to dominate animals the way other children appear to.

With regard to the "fun" she's missing out on, most people mean junk food. Believe me, there are lots of ways to veganize junk food. The only difference is that we usually have to provide our own for birthday parties and activities at school. Being vegan does not mean a lifetime of carrot sticks while the rest of the class has chocolate cupcakes with sprinkles, it just means you have to be a little more organized and make your own.

Fast food is another thing that people bring up as a vital part of childhood, but we've never found to be a problem. From the time she started eating table food, my daughter has eaten the same meals her father and I do. When we go out to eat, she eats Chana Masala, or Sesame Tofu, or Kik Alecha with the rest of us. She asks for olive oil to dip her bread in. She will never be stuck in the "chicken fingers and hush puppies" rut that a lot of kids go through. The innate and uncontrollable longing that all kids are supposed to have for greasy fries and fluorescent light has yet to manifest itself, and her penchant for small, instantly-broken toys is more than indulged by her grandmothers.


  1. Seconded <3. You are an excellent writer.

  2. This was a very interesting read. Awesome post!

  3. What the fuck. So eating fast food is a vital part of childhood now? I think I kind of didn't get the memo.
    ...Are those people being serious?

  4. great post! we have an almost one year old vegan baby and the comments have started already!

  5. i would have to agree with you!! i am not vegan, though i have considered it time and again. i do have family that is. i totally support them. i think it's a great choice, and no, there is absolutely nothing 'wrong' with that choice. fast food is overrated. you child is not missing out on anything by not getting a happy meal. your child will be all the better without it. keep up the good fight!!

  6. I just found your blog and I LOVE it. Especially this post. I plan on raising my daughter vegan and just yesterday my mother asked me "are you planning on forcing that vegan stuff on her?" and I replied "why doesn't anyone ask omni's why they're forcing meat on their children?" I just don't understand how being compassionate toward living things can be seen as bad. We live in a messed up world.

  7. Meh...parents force their beliefs on their children. No argument there. Religion, politics . . . veganism. There a million beliefs out there. Doesn't mean they are all correct. I'm a parent. I try not to, but I know I do it. That said, my children eat a variety of foods, including meats, because of my beliefs which include the idea that a variety of foods is good for their growth. I also believe, however, that, like a lot of things, veganism is something they should choose for themselves, when they are ready. I believe I am not here to force my children to be what I want them to be but to raise them to be prepared to discover and decide for themselves what they want to be.