Going vegan was a significant change in my life. It was purposeful, thought out, and well researched. I told family and friends, changed my shopping habits, and fell in love with hummus. I enjoy food as much as ever, if not more, and I feel good about lessening my impact on the environment and the suffering of animals.
Overall, going vegan was easy. But what about making that choice for someone else? Fraught with what-ifs and an abundance of solicited and unsolicited outside opinions, deciding whether or not to raise my baby as a non-meat eater has been much more difficult than I had imagined.
Overall, going vegan was easy. But what about making that choice for someone else?
First of all, can it be done? Of course. I’m not the first to ponder this lifestyle for my child and there are plenty of resources and recipes out there for families. The most important thing in making your own decision is to talk to your child’s healthcare provider to make sure your little one gets the nutrition she or he needs. Ensuring your child’s health is imperative. After you have the knowledge and tools come the practicalities.
I will use only cloth diapers! I will learn all of the woven wrap techniques! I will raise my baby vegan! I held these convictions aloft like a banner, confident in a way only a pre-parent can be. But as the realities and exhaustion sunk in the first few months after birth, everything was questioned. My banner of convictions wavered, dipped, and dragged.
The pressures of parenting, the over-abundance of advice, and the anxieties of providing the best for your baby make a choice like veganism or even vegetarianism difficult to make. And no one is simply raising a baby. Taking care of other loved ones, taking care of yourself, working in the home or outside the home, these things must all be balanced with the charge of a new life. Decisions about sleep, enrichment, and safety rate right up there with food.
Is she getting enough protein? Iron? Omegas? Probiotics? Are supplements as good as the nutrition that comes from food?
Many “natural baby” advice blogs applaud the benefits of bone broth and red meat in early childhood.
Grandparents are notorious for slipping in off-limits treats when parents aren’t around. How to control for that?
How will I talk about our diet as she grows and gains understanding about where food comes from? How will I justify eating differently than family and friends? When she’s old enough to make a choice, will I lay down a non-meat eating law?
I can’t answer these questions right now. With an eight-month-old baby, we’re still taking things day by day. At the heart of things I want to share my values as well as my meals with my daughter. Munching on blueberries or a sweet potato together feels right. The thought of giving her puréed chicken from a jar or the offered bits of hamburger from grandma does not.
At the heart of things I want to share my values as well as my meals with my daughter.
Just like with everything else as a parent, the important thing is to do your best. Vegetarianism may work better for some families than veganism. Introducing a non-meat eating lifestyle could be gradual. Seeking out animal products that meet your ethical standards might be an option for some. The very best thing you can do for your child is imparting the core of your environmental and animal rights values. Teaching them to be compassionate and thoughtful towards the earth and animals will go the farthest in preparing them for a non-meat eating lifestyle.