Today we welcome Sarah Creighton, founder of Veggie-Kids.com and author of the new veg-friendly children’s book “Clover’s Great Escape.” Sarah offers some tips on how to raise vegan kids, including how to prepare kids with answers when questioned about their diet in the school environment.
Hi, I’m Sarah Creighton, founder of Veggie-Kids.com and author of The Boy Who Loved Broccoli and Clover’s Great Escape. Who am I? I’m a busy mom of three boys and an elementary teacher living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I love being vegan and am obsessed with getting kids and families eating healthier. I wanted to share some tips on raising vegan children, as I consider myself an expert in this area!
First of all, it’s not just about being vegan. It’s about raising the healthiest kids you can by feeding them nutritious foods and giving them the knowledge and skills they’ll need as teens and adults to make good choices of their own.
The earlier you start feeding kids veggies, the sooner they develop a palette for it. Be sure to also start them off with whole grains, fresh produce, beans, seeds, tofu, etc. early enough that it becomes their norm. Most of us adults were raised with white bread and pasta, meat as a dinnertime staple and a tall glass of 2% or whole cow’s milk. You can (and should) create a new norm for your children. The added bonus to that is they’re more likely to continue with that healthy lifestyle as adults and pass the wisdom on to their offspring. The earlier we teach kids, the better, because it becomes a part of who they are. They watch what goes in your mouth! Whatever you eat, they eat.
I’ve found that grown-ups usually make a bigger deal out of their child being vegan at school than the child’s peers do. Kids are so used to hearing about gluten intolerances, peanut allergies, etc. that a student not eating meat or dairy is really not such a big deal. Send your child prepared with a hearty vegan snack/lunch. If they’re asked by their peers about why they’re not eating cheese sticks or yogurt tubes, tell them to give a simple answer like “I don’t eat things that come from animals.” Most likely it will satisfy their curiosity.
It’s interesting to hear what my kids tell me their classmates have said and asked them about the fact that they are vegan. It also reminds me that us grown-ups have a lot to learn about healthy eating and eating whole, real foods, whether on a plant-based diet or not.
I remember my oldest son’s first grade class took a field trip to the local pizzeria where they were excited to make their own mini pizzas. Here’s what his teacher emailed me about his experience: “Your son was pretty impressive with all the vegetables he put on his pizza today. The parent drivers were amazed. He was very responsible about the whole thing as well, asking the pizza man about each ingredient and where it was from, etc. to be sure that he could eat it.”
In terms of school hot lunches, it’s nice to know that overall the menus are getting a little better, but it’s still far from great. One of my kids used to ask me if there’s anything he can eat on the hot lunch menu and when we’d look, there was usually one day a month that there might be something not produced by animals. With slim pickings, I think you’re better off sticking to packing our own lunches.
I’d like to commend all the parents who are okay with being “different” by teaching their kids to help take a stand against the cruel and greedy practices associated with animal agriculture, the affect it has on our planet, and for being more conscious about what we put in our growing children. Each of our choices either positively or negatively affects the world around us, so let’s make conscious choices!
My new children’s book, Clover’s Great Escape, deals with factory farming. It’s based on the real-life events of a cow narrowly escaping the slaughterhouse only to find her way into the loving arms of a farm sanctuary. Written in a way that gently elicits questions, I’m hoping it will start a conversation about how we can together end the horrible exploitation of animals raised for food.
For healthy vegan recipes the whole family will love, as well as tips and tricks about going vegan check out my website Veggie-Kids.com where you can get a FREE Vegan Starter Guide and FREE Vegan Q & A’s Guide, answering your most common questions and concerns about going vegan.
Sarah Creighton, founder of Veggie-Kids.com and The30DayVegan.com, is a mom of three, a first grade teacher and author of two children’s books, “The Boy Who Loved Broccoli” and “Clover’s Great Escape.” Sarah created Veggie-Kids.com to help families eat healthier by providing them with easy, family-friendly vegan recipes and meal plans. She has a Free Vegan Starter Guide to help people get started eating better at Veggie-Kids.com.