|Raegan’s dinner etiquette at its best 😉
I know I am a day early but hey…She is practically the center of my world as I know I am with hers as well. I often get asked about being a vegan parent and if Raegan is also going to be raised vegan. Why wouldn’t I raise her vegan??? I personally find it to be the dumbest of all vegan questions in the book!!! However, I do see one side to these questions…when you Google “Vegan Parenting” it’s pretty limited. Then there are some parenting sites that only talk about food (not baby food!) and it just goes off the subject that really matters…how to raise your vegan children in non-vegan situations…
I know that every person is going to be different in their style of parenting…That’s a no-brainer. Some moms go above and beyond to make their child’s clothing, toys, etc. while other moms aren’t into the DIY projects (make no appologies!) and will spend countless hours online finding a pair of cute baby shoes that are leather free. Both ways, no matter what kind of vegan mother you are, it’s not an easy task. Also, some vegan mothers have to deal with day care while others (like me) stay at home. Still, both scenarios are going to raise some non-vegan situations and to me, it’s always like that monkey on your back, but it doesn’t have to feel that way.
Looking back in May of 2010, when the fertility specialist confirmed I was pregnant, I went to the OB/GYN to start my journey into becoming a mother. The first appointment was the one I dreaded and yet it ended so well. My worst fear was having some nurse bash me for choosing to stay on a vegan diet but surprisingly enough, the nurse looked at me as I was the role model of a perfect prenatal diet. She didn’t have to explain to me about the hazards of eating fish, deli meats, and certain cheeses. Therefore, I just made her job sooo much easier 😉 The eating part was easy…However, the prenatal vitamins were another issue. If your OB/GYN’s office is anything like mine, they push the free samples of prenatal vitamins which usually contain gelatin capsules or fish oil (even the ones that claim to be “vegetarian” are not even close to vegan friendly!). I understand that most supplement capsules contain gelatin but come on, fish oil?! Excuse me, didn’t I just get the lecture about consuming fish and the risk of mercury?! Why isn’t a non-veg mother asking these same questions too? Apparently, the fish oil is for the sake of DHA….Well, let me tell you a bit about DHA. The origin of DHA is from microalgae and when taken directly from microalgae (as opposed to fish) you are receiving it in the best form possible (In other words, the same way fish are getting it…They didn’t magically wake up and start making it themselves!). I am not a doctor (nor am I licensed to give medical advice so no lawsuits please!) but before I became the vegan housewife that I am, I was working in healthcare and from my experience in the field, sometimes things make sooooo much sense but yet no one catches on for one reason or another. If you live near any healthfood/vitamin store you can easily obtain (even if you live out in “the sticks”!) vegan-friendly DHA that is both affordable and high quality. You can take it along with any vitamin you choose to take (I am sensitive to vitamins so I just used a children’s gummy vitamin along with a DHA Supplement). During my pregnancy, I will admit, I heard the dumb questions about if I was going to stop being vegan while pregnant. Let me think here…I can understand that if I was smoking, drinking heavily or popping pills for my amusement that someone would ask me if I was giving up something that was not benefiting me, but being vegan has done nothing but give me great benefits so why wouldn’t I want to give those great benefits to my own child???
Moving forward to exactly 6 months ago when I was delivering my child, I was faced with several non-vegan situations. For starters, no matter how well you plan or how savvy your hospital is, you’re going to run into a situation where the only food they can provide you is fruit because everything else contains dairy or gelatin (yeah, they still serve that nasty stuff!). This is when you start using the term “Daddy Duty” and also grabbing your closest friends to sneak in the vegan contraband just so you can survive the hospital stay. All while this is happening, your baby arrives and is greeted into the world with a bunch of (far from vegan) immunizations.
I know immunizations are a hot topic to any mom (not just vegans) but going back to my healthcare experience, I have to admit to myself that there is a difference between overdoing it and finding balance. The best advice I can give to you is know exactly what your child is getting and if you don’t understand the necessity of that particular immunization…ask! And if you don’t get a decent answer, refuse the service until you find someone who can properly explain it to you. I can’t stress this enough!!! Just remember that every little service that is done in any medical setting requires your verbal and/or written consent (unless in dire situations!) and if you see anyone doing something you never authorized, raise hell and if you’re still not satisfied- file a complaint! Most doctors and their staff will tell you that the best patients they have are the informed ones….so be as informed as possible! Furthermore, immunizations are never classified as “vegan” as they often come from animal products like eggs, but most of the immunizations were tested on animals before they were ever given to their first human recipient. Sadly, the FDA still requires animal testing on practically everything so there’s not much anyone can do right now when it comes to “animal free medications/immunizations”. I know as a vegan and a mother, this sometimes leaves a guilty feeling inside until I am reminded that the true vegan motto is to “Be the best vegan you can be.”
Now having a child in my arms who is healthy, happy and loved is probably the best reward I have to being vegan and raising a vegan family. I try my best to not sweat the small stuff and once Raegan is old enough to communicate, it is definitely my responsibility to educate her as to why her mommy and daddy chose to raise her as a vegan. I am confident that she will catch on very quickly and might even grow into being quite the activist 🙂 Both her mommy and daddy are not ones to back down from a good debate so I’m thinking she’s going to be a natural when it comes to telling anyone within distance about veganism. It reminds me of an old quote:
“You put a baby in a crib with an apple and a rabbit. If it eats the rabbit and plays with the apple, I’ll buy you a new car…” -Harvey Diamond
I agree with many activists who say that eating animals is taught…I never seen a toddler go into a barn to kill a chicken just so they can have dinner. To them, dinner is what their parents feed them. No matter if you are vegan or not…you can’t help but agree along with me…Dinner to a child is what you feed them (so please feed them well and avoid those golden arches and other lookalikes no matter how convenient it looks!). Now on the same page here, every child at some point will ask you where certain things come from….and usually the reaction to meat is always the worst. I went vegetarian at 13 when I FULLY realized (you know-when you see that first blue vein across your meat…) that the steak I was eating was a cow’s muscle and that just did it for me. Then I eventually went vegan along with my husband back in late 2008 once we both were informed about factory farms and how we both wanted no part in it (I’ll give you the full story another post!). So to me, getting the message to Raegan is going to be the easy part…Just teaching her how to deal with the public is going to be a challenge. But nothing in this life is easy, especially if you know what you are doing is right.
The best thing I have now is a VERY small network of local moms who are vegan…I found them all online originally and it’s amazing how quickly I have become good friends with each one of them. One of my friends in particular, is such a godsend to me (and I hope she knows who she is!) when it comes to raising a vegan child as she has a child that’s 3 years old so she’s a couple steps ahead of me which definitely works out to my advantage 😉 She’s definitely a woman who can write a novel about vegan parenting and I go to her for just about everything and she always has the best answer!!! But having a network of other local vegan moms is essential for survival and if you cannot find vegan mothers who live close to you, then go online and find other random vegan moms out there (or follow my blog or email me). I promise you’ll be amazed with the information you learn along the way, no matter how creepy stalking Facebook for vegan mothers seems 🙂
These past 6 months have gone by so quickly that soon enough, I will be posting about Raegan’s first birthday!!! For now, here’s to wishing a Happy 1/2 Birthday to “My Queen”. May I provide her with the knowledge and love it takes to mold her into an exceptional, compassionate human being…