And after four years as a vegan mom (five if you count the 41 weeks of my first pregnancy, which if you've been pregnant, you do), there are a few things I feel like the rest of the world should probably wrap its big ole' judgmental brain around when it comes to cruelty-free parenting.
I'm not going to ease into this, so I'll just come right out and say the number one thing you should know about vegan mums. We ARE NOT trying to kill our children. Wait, let me say that one more time, just in case the cheap seats missed it: we ARE NOT trying to kill our children. And in fact, 99.9% of us are not, at all. Every few years we responsible vegan parents get our titles tossed to the trash as some news outlet or blogger picks up a story about how a "vegan diet killed a child."
The funny thing about these headlines is the bajillion of them that are out there are usually referring to the same two or three children, whom, VEGANISM did not kill, but STUPID PARENTING did. These children were deprived of vitamins and minerals, and that's not simply because they were vegan (although many would like it to be), but because their parents didn't pay attention to what they were giving their children.
Both of my kids were fed from my body and that's through all the grueling months of pregnancy and the breastfeeding after. We took our kids to pediatric dietitians when they were one and onward to ensure they were getting the right combination of vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy fats. And they've received gold stars for the foods they're eating, not because it's vegan or not, but because it's GOOD food.
So to rehash the events of that first point there, the large, large, large majority of us are in fact, not, killing our children.
And while we're on the topic, this might seem like a loaded statement, which, it kind of is, but please quit worrying about the well-being of my children. Just because we choose to follow a lifestyle that's not on the mainstream band wagon, doesn't make it fair game for public scrutiny and check-ins. For the first few years of Pearyn's life I felt like I was constantly trying to justify our lifestyle and the food we were putting on the dinner table, and why? Not because I had doubts, but because everyone else did.
It's different, I get that, so people will talk. I'm cool with talk. I'm cool with questions. But I'm not cool with people accusing me of "neglecting" my children because I'm not feeding them frozen chicken nuggets with a tall glass of chocolate cow's milk. Seriously? I have people sending me emails and links about how soy is going to make my son "too feminine," but half of them aren't coming from concerned parents, they're coming from parents who want to point a finger. And if we want to start pointing fingers, I've got more than enough ammo to turn it around on them.
So how about I'll worry about how much soy I'm putting into my children's bodies and any one who has a problem with that can start researching the impact of hormones and antibiotics in dairy and meat on THEIR kids' health and get back to me.
While we're on the topic of what everyone else thinks I'm doing wrong, as a vegan mom I'd like you to know that I'm actually NOT imposing my beliefs on my children anymore than any other parent is doing. Wait, wait, I know what you're going to say "but you are, Chubby Vegan Mom, you're making your kids be vegan and they're not even old enough to decide if they want to!" Yep, you're right, I AM choosing to have my children live a vegan lifestyle, just like trillions of parents decide to have their family NOT be vegan every day. What makes that decision different from mine? Nothing. We're all trying to do the best for our kids and our families, that doesn't mean what's best for your family is best for ours and vice versa.
And since you're now probably picturing us sitting around the table munching on raw carrots and drinking shots of wheat grass, let me go ahead and burst that bubble too. As a vegan mom, I think it's incredibly important that you realize we DO eat junk food. A huge perk of veganism is the health benefits, but that's not the only thing. When we decided to raise a vegan family, I decided our kids would not miss out on stuff. And it's a rule I'm adament about. So that means every class party, every birthday, bonfire and every holiday our kids have had their fair share of Christmas cookies, Cadbury "cream" eggs, smores and smash cakes - simply veganized.
He later admitted now knowing our family he wouldn't do that, because we aren't just following a "diet," but a lifestyle; however, he opened our eyes to a battle I had no idea I was up against. Look, you might think we're mean for not letting our kids have "real" hot dogs (is there such a thing!?), but from one parent to another I sincerely hope you will respect our wishes when it comes to what goes into our kids' bodies. Not only is it NOT for you to decide, it could seriously make our children sick, something you probably didn't consider.
The last thing I want you to know as a vegan mom is really, really important, so listen up! Contrary to very popular opinion, I'm not judging you. I'm not judging your family, your dinner table or your grocery store purchases. If you catch me staring at you a second too long, I'm probably admiring your hair, lipstick color or your nails, because I like that stuff. Or maybe I'm admiring your abillity to remain sane, look completely put together, all while toting around 5 unruly children. But the truth is, I'm not tabulating in my head how much sugar is in those popsicles, how many bags of potato chips you're buying or whether or not you're going to consume those 12 cases of soda. In fact, you might find some of those same items in my cart as well.
So the next time you see me posting a recipe for some elaborate dinner I've made or cupcake I've baked, all while you just finished feeding your brigade some frozen pizza and hot dogs, please, please, please know, that I'm not judging you. In fact, I'm probably planning the same dinner for my kids - tomorrow night.
You also might like: