Vegan children: What we feed our children’s minds
Every parent wants to teach his or her child kindness, compassion and tolerance, in the hope that it has a lasting effect on their growth into adulthood. We educate our children not to discriminate on a person’s sexuality, gender, race or religion, and to be kind to all living creatures, because as parents, we want our children to have a good moral compass.
For many parents, we try to encourage kindness not only to humans, but to animals too. Phrases such as; “Don’t pull the dog's tail” or “Don’t squash that bug” are common in many households. Yet, unfortunately, in some cases, this can easily be contradicted by serving children an animal part for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, which can have a confusing impact on the growth of that child. The phrase, “I don’t want to eat animals,” is becoming more frequent for this reason as children are starting to make the connection from a younger age.
To give a growing human the most rounded and impassioned upbringing, resulting in a kind and tolerant adult, it is important that we stop teaching cognitive dissonance; we cannot teach our children to be kind to all living beings, and then serve them a body part of a once-living-being and expect them to eat it without question. Children inherently care, sometimes about things we as adults see as trivial. If we harnessed this level of compassion from an early age, and incorporated an early education about veganism, this could dramatically change our world, perhaps creating systematic changes that would have a positive ripple effect throughout society within a generation.
As parents, we have total control over what we feed and clothe our young, and we can make these choices vegan from birth. For baby milk, whether breastfed or formula fed, both options can be vegan with brands such as Bébé M and Prémibio offer dairy-free alternatives, and there are many vegan options when it comes to clothing from vegan brands such as Mori Baby and Little Vegan Boutique or going eco-friendly and using pre-loved items from friends and family, charity stores or online marketplaces.
For school age children, the curriculum teaches an age-appropriate sex education including positive relationships, appropriate and inappropriate behaviours, modern family dynamics and how the reproductive system works. Perhaps it is this type of teaching we should adopt in classrooms highlighting age-appropriate animal rights for children too, teaching that all living creatures are equal, with as much right to live their lives free from pain, fear and oppression as us humans. For the ages of four to eight, there are a whole host of books to engage children with the likes of T-Veg: the story of a carrot-crunching dinosaur and Vivi the Supervegan.
As children grow to a more independent age of eight to twelve, imagine the impact it could have if they were taught age-appropriate realities of how animals are used in modern day society, to enable them to make their own informed decisions about them, ie; the production of cows milk and animals raised for slaughter, the process of honey and the life of the queen bee. A fantastic free resource to help nourish young minds on animal rights is Earthling Ed’s Teaching 10 Year Olds About Veganism video.
Into the teenage years, interests can differ. Some teenagers may enjoy reading and there is a new wave of vegan Young Adult Fiction authors including V Land UK's own Ray Star and the Earthlings trilogy and Blair Richmond and the Litha trilogy. Some curiosities may lead towards the health benefits of veganism, especially if they are the sporty type, Netflix’s Game Changers is an eye opening documentary. Others may be drawn towards animal rights activists who give raw, open hearted truths about the world we live in such as Joey Carbstrong and James Aspey, they may even want to get involved in activism themselves with local community groups such as ‘Cube of Truth’ events.
We are amidst a new wave of consciousness within young people, and by supporting their need for answers, rather than shutting down their curiosities, we can help them thrive in a world that is kind to all living beings. Perhaps one day future generations may look back at the meat and dairy industry with the same abhorrence of outdated human traits such as gender and racial inequalities. The youth of today bring hope for a compassionate future, and we are dedicated to supporting them on this journey.
If you are keen to make more vegan changes in your young ones life, check out recent articles where does it stop? and Meat Free Monday: small changes can make a great impact.