No, we don’t know ALL about raising a vegan child (but we are learning!). This article is about an interview I did with the responsible for the amazing Facebook page Raising a Vegan Child. I don’t remember when exactly I “Liked” their page but I love reading their updates and all the questions they get from people about not just raising vegan children but related to veganism in general. The page is full of good information and it’s a great on line community. Hope you all enjoy reading the interview and if you still don’t “Like” them on Facebook, do it now!
Thanks RAVC team and keep up with the great work.
Oh, and just a little note not related to the interview: TOMORROW, February 5th, we’ll be launch our newest project here on All About Vegan Food! We are so excited about it and can’t wait to share it with the WORLD, so please come back to check what’s going on and why we’ve been telling you that we have big plans for 2013
How and when was Raising a Vegan Child born?
RAVC: We started RAVC in October 2011. We have created a vegan community journal that discuses all the different facets of veganism. We wanted to share the real experiences of raising our vegan son with a geographically diverse community. Likewise, we wanted to learn from the experiences of other vegans around the world. Vegans need a support structure that goes beyond sound bites and pictures of animal cruelty. We need a constant dialog. This dialog may make us uncomfortable sometimes. But as long as we are focused on the central vegan tenet of causing the least harm, veganism will continue to move forward. In all actions, let us continue to ask whether any harm was done to animals and humans.
We want to know more about the people behind the page. Who are responsible for it?
RAVC: There are four of us. Julee, Tanya, Aiden and Sam. We like to talk about our vegan values and ideas, but we are also very private people. The little boy, Aiden, is vegan from birth. We are vegan because our conscience does not allow us to eat, wear, harm or kill animals. In our teens, we realized that the only difference between a cow and our family pet dog was … no difference. Suddenly our eyes were open. One cannot love a dog and eat a cow. Sam often describes how he will never forget the sight and smells of death and cruelty when he and a friend sneaked into a slaughterhouse in the summer of 1989.
For now you are just on Facebook and you have almost 4,500 “Likes” there. Do you get a good feedback from people there?
RAVC: We’ve had huge responses from our Facebook friends! I don’t know another medium that allows us to engage our readers as well as we do on Facebook. Because we dive deeper into many complex vegan issues, our Friends count on us for objective analyses of research and news articles. Many people thank us for explaining the “vegan perspective” in many issues.
With these new policies of Facebook where people actually don’t see all Page’s posts, do you think about moving to a real website or forum page?
RAVC: The Facebook policies are confusing to many of us! They’re certainly prompting us to re-evaluate our Facebook-only strategy (we recently started a blog on Tumblr). We have avoided developing a traditional website or blog because we don’t want to create yet another online “destination” for our readers. We’ve chosen to stay within the Facebook eco-system because it is easiest for our readers to visit our updates and interact with us. All we have to do is feed our readers’ Facebook streams– the readers don’t have to make any effort to find us. This is the power of Facebook, right?
You post a lot of questions. What are the most common issues and doubts that you get from people?
RAVC: No kidding! Our readers definitely ask a wide range of questions and we love them for that. It’s hard to say what the “most common” issues are. Relating to non-vegan family is a big issue; especially over the holidays. Understanding that compassion is universal to all sentient beings is another big issue. Vitamin B-12, protein, milk/dairy, leather/furs and vaccines come to mind. Lately, we’ve had questions about feeding children. Doubt is more common when people don’t understand veganism deeply. People may not understand some of the logic of veganism or they may confuse peripheral issues with veganism. Some vegans still maintain carnistic sensibilities. Sometimes, people wonder whether humane meat is possible or whether the “problem” is factory-farming. No, meat is never humane and factory-farming is just a symptom. There’s nothing beautiful about calf-skin loafers … they are artifacts of exploitation and cruelty. As a vegan, even the thought of wearing used, or secondhand, leather should be reprehensible.
My baby boy is turning 1 year old at the end of the month and so far I haven’t faced too many challenges but I’m already thinking about what seems to be my biggest “issue” about raising a vegan child: school. Italy doesn’t seem to be prepared to receive vegan children at kindergarten or schools. Do you have any tips for this vegan mum?
RAVC: With regard to carnism, Italy is not very different from the US. Our strategy is to develop a close relationship with his teachers so they understand exactly what vegan means. We always send our son to school with vegan lunches and snacks. From a very early age, we have taught him to be vocal about veganism. He once said to his teacher: “You know I can’t do that project, right? I am vegan.” The teachers/school have a list that shows that he is allergic to *ALL* animal products (we spell out each item: NO chicken, Jello, fish, meat, eggs, animal milks, cheese, whey, crab, etc.). We do not allow him to eat any school-supplied food. We do not allow him to participate in cooking projects that involve animal products (not even milk); because, to participate in making animal food is disrespectful of his vegan values and conscience.
Most of the blogs today are still focused on food and we also see a lot of interest in recipes between our readers. How do you see the fact that the vegan diet is getting a lot of attention lately but the other aspects of veganism seem to be left behind?
RAVC: Relatively speaking, writing about vegan cooking is easier than the deeper issues of Veganism: conscience, compassion, law, justice, ethics, animal rights, human rights, and speciesism. When you write a cookbook with 100% plant-strong ingredients, you don’t need to discuss the reasons why cheese involves killing male cows and why that is wrong. That said, the focus on vegan diet/food is fine. Many people arrive at vegan as a food “choice” because they are disturbed by the problems of factory-farming or they experience illness; and then they evolve to veganism. It is our job to help connect the dots of carnism so that the important issues of veganism are not left behind.
Some women are very sure about their choice for a vegan lifestyle until they get pregnant. What would you say to these mums to help them to keep vegan during pregnancy?
RAVC: A lot depends on why you are vegan in the first place. When conscience is the center of one’s veganism, we look for answers to all questions within veganism. I often say that Veganism is not a “choice.” In my case, animal products stimulate my gag reflexes; that taps into the involuntary response. Many people are drawn to vegan because it is nothing more than a diet; perhaps for them, it is easy to switch to an alternative diet. In many cases, people rely on advice from doctors and health practitioners who have little knowledge of vegan. One thing that differentiates vegans is that they will actively question medical “advice”–force the doctor to explain how feeding your child cow’s milk is healthy! On a practical level, vegan food is the safest for pregnancy. There are no “forbidden” vegan foods. Support your pregnancy with good quality vegan prenatal vitamins and essential fatty acids (EFA).
What are the positive aspects of raising a vegan child since his/her birth?
RAVC: There are so many: A vegan-from-birth child *never* has to unlearn many horrible carnistic behaviors. A vegan child grows up very aware of the system of food production–both positive and negative. They develop a strong sense of empathy for all humans and animals. When they see a cow, they see ONLY a fellow sentient being. They do not think of the cow as food. In fact, to never expose a child to cow’s milk is the most positive gift of health we can give to our vegan children. The next generation of vegan children will see solutions differently. They will not simply experiment on animals because this is the standard practice in science. They will create vegan solutions because their consciences are driven by vegan values. They will hasten the invention of ideas and products that do not use animal parts.
In your opinion, what’s the key for making this world a better place for us and our children?
RAVC: Teach speciesism. Practice compassion toward all sentient beings. Embrace veganism as the greatest force for PEACE and justice that humanity has ever invented. Tell vegan stories in music, books and the arts. Eating vegan food will eliminate hunger. Go Vegan.
* All images courtesy of Raising a Vegan Child