Becoming a vegan is one of the best decisions you can make for your health, for the environment and for animal welfare. However, it can also be tricky, particularly when you have to consider the needs and wishes of a partner and/or child, not just you.
If you’re vegan and you have a vegan spouse, bringing up vegan children probably won’t be too difficult for you as veganism will be second nature to them. But if you recently decided to go vegan and your family is used to an omni way of life, you may be in for a few challenges.
Here are a few tips for going vegan as a family:
Explain veganism gently
When you explain veganism to your family, and particular to children, do so gently and with patience. This is especially important if one parent is vegan and another parent is not, as you don’t want the children to see a mother/father in a negative light.
This is a really good article on how to explain veganism to children.
Veganise family-favourite recipes
If your children used to love Lasagna Night or they have a craving for shepherd’s pie, do your best to facilitate that and make a vegan version! Vegan-friendly pasta and pasta sauce is easy to find in most supermarkets and there are plenty of great recipes online for you to copy.
Always be prepared
There are so many instances when you’ll need to have a snack on hand for a hungry child. It’s never a good idea to rely on nearby shops, particularly if you’re in an unfamiliar place. There are many more vegan options in shops than there used to be, but you don’t want to take any chances.
Always make sure you have an arsenal of snacks and healthy treats in your car/ nappy bag/ handbag. Good treats to keep on hand include Nakd bars, popcorn, apples, Moo Free chocolate buttons, raisins and granola bars.
Go shopping together
Make sure everyone in your family knows that it’s a group transition. Some family members might take longer to cut out non-vegan foods than others, so encourage them to try lots of new vegan foods. One way to do this, particularly with young children, is to take them shopping and allow them to pick out vegan-friendly foods they want to try!
Talk to your extended family
Well-meaning family members may offer your children non-vegan foods or products, and it’s important to speak to them about why your child (and your family) is no longer eating/using animal products.
Both omnivores and vegans alike deal with extended family overriding parental decisions, whether this is offering them a cupcake before their dinner or allowing them fizzy drinks (or – specifically in the case of vegans – if they offer your child meat).
Explain veganism to your family and ensure they understand that this is the lifestyle your family has adopted, that it’s important to you, and that you’d like them to respect your beliefs.
Organise pot-lucks with non-vegan extended family
A great way to connect with the non-vegans in your extended family is a good old fashioned pot luck! This can help quell scepticism about the quality and tastiness of vegan food, and you never know, you might change a few minds while you’re at it!
Join vegan family meet-up groups
If you’re a fledgling vegan family, you may not know many other families with the same beliefs. Check out the Vegan Families in Ireland Facebook page and suggest a meet-up!
Visit an animal sanctuary
A lot of traditional family days out may not be suitable for your vegan family (eg. the zoo) but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out! There are several animal sanctuaries around the country, including Eden Farmed Animal Sanctuary in Co. Meath and the Donkey Sanctuary in Co. Donegal, so pack a picnic of food and spend the day with some furry friends.
Create a chart
Put together a chart of how many animals you’ve saved as a family since going vegan. It’s a positive affirmation and it can be a weekly tradition to add to the chart. If you have children, this would be a great activity to do together.
Vegancalculator.com is a really fun way to discover approx. how many animals you’ve saved since going vegan.
Things to remember:
One size doesn’t fit all
Do things at your own pace, it’s not a competition
Organisation is key