Will you raise your daughter a vegan? My answer may surprise you

603 comments

 

Hands down, one of the most asked questions I’ve received since I announced my pregnancy last March is whether we will raise our daughter a vegan. It’s something that Eric and I discussed long before getting pregnant, but we revisited the topic again when I did get pregnant. I’ve been clear in the past that our household is not a vegan household – Eric doesn’t follow a vegan diet, although a lot of his meals are vegan because he loves the food that I make (yup, tooting my own horn! hah). He now enjoys hundreds of foods he wouldn’t even touch when we first started dating and it’s been incredible to see his diet transform over the years from deep fried fast food to vibrant veggie-filled home-cooked meals. From eating a huge bowl of frosted flakes cereal to a huge green smoothie every morning, the change has been huge. So even though he’s become more conscious about selecting organic meat from local farms whenever possible and eschewing a large amount of dairy from his diet, he has no plans of going vegan. I support him completely; after all, he was never vegan before we met and he is happy and healthy which is what matters.

Many people have assumed that we would raise Adriana on a vegan diet, but we’ve actually decided not to label her diet in any shape or form. This is for a couple reasons. First, I want her to be able to try any food that she wants to, including the food her dad and family members eat in front of her. Second, I want her to decide for herself when she is older whether she will attach any sort of label to her diet. I have personally experienced benefits and drawbacks to labeling my own diet, and I don’t want to put my beliefs on her or assume that my diet is the best diet for her. That being said, we eat so many plant-based meals in this house I have no doubt that her diet will be filled with vegetables, fruit, legumes, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats! We are very grateful for the food we have access to and above all, I’d like to instill this sense of gratitude in her and also an excitement for healthy food, understanding its impact on our energy, etc. We are incredibly lucky that we even have the privilege of discussing this topic. But would we stop her from enjoying some of her dad’s chicken or a birthday cake at a friend’s party or a home-cooked meal at Mimi’s or Babcia’s house? No we won’t (assuming she doesn’t have an allergy down the road, of course).

I know that deciding what to feed one’s family is a very personal topic, but I want to be open about it as I have with my own dietary changes in the past. Obviously, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. Vegan households can work really well if that is the goal (and I know many friends who are currently rocking it!), but this is what we’ve decided is right for us.

I’d love to hear from you about this topic. Have you ever struggled with the decision as to whether to label your child’s diet? Do you live in a household with different diets or allergies? How do you find a balance?

PS – Adriana turned 6 months on Saturday! We celebrated by giving her her first solid food – avocado. I haven’t laughed so much in a long time. It was seriously awesome. I also re-read her birth story and cried a little. More on this feeding thing later.

xo

 

Comments are now closed – May 20/15

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Jill May 19, 2015

My son is 15 1/2 and he ade the choice to be a vegetarian at 8. Before that time, he would try different animal foods and even go on and off with strictly vegam. He even tied a stint as a fruitarian. I would add supplements if we thought it necessary. As a baby and toddler he had many allergies and could not eat dairies, wheat, meat, and some other stuff. I know his restriction to dairy and wheat created a hyper try it all later on. He has been taught about nutrition, sustainability and flexibility. He taught us about compassion. He becomes distressed about the chopping of trees, he wont hurt a mosquito ( because its a mom feeding her baby) and feels compassion toward all. He does eat some dairy now but knows it does not feel good when he eats too much and we buy any eggs/ dairy from friends where we can see the care and health of the animals. My husband eats meat when out. As the cook who makes everything from scratch, I will not cook flesh. If Quinn wanted to eat it, it would be his choice and he is fully informed and he would need to cook it himself and clean up or eat it when away from home. It is like everything else in parenting, you model the best you can, provide them with information, including differing views, show respect and support and get out of their way as best you can to make choices and mistakes. Trust your instincts and be ok that you will probably tweek your approach many times.
Best wishes!

Kerstin May 13, 2015

my children are grown now and I wished that I had fed them vegan foods from the beginning of life, since only in my later years of life have I found out how very healthy this vegan lifestyle is

Kerstin May 13, 2015

my children are grown now and yes I would definitely feed them vegan from birth on, because I know how healthy a vegan lifestyle is.

Sarah May 12, 2015

At my house, there’s one person who eats 99% vegan, and the other eats 99% paleo. We’ve talked endlessly about the pros and cons of each – nicely and compassionately and kindly. We learn from each other and put what we learn into action, in the best way we can. And we have much more in common in our dietary values than one might think.

Those who follow the vegan lifestyle have the absolute moral high ground, and yes, I agree it would be wonderful if the entire world could exist like this.

Then there is all the recent research proving that the paleo diet – which in its pure form eliminates grains, legumes, dairy, sweeteners and most fruit, and includes only pasture raised meat and veggies – reverses autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disorders, neurological disorders, and a whole host of other complaints. It also drastically reduces the risk of Alzheimers and dementia in old age (see Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter), and just seems to create overall healthier people. However, the true paleo lifestyle is completely unsustainable for this planet at its current population.

So I – the wannabe vegan – am trying to figure out how to eat true “vegan paleo” to avoid the health risks of lots of grains.

And in the end, I think the best way to effect change is with compassion, understanding, and patience – meeting people where they are with kindness.

Angela – you’re amazing and have truly helped me feel more enthusiastic about cooking and eating! Thank you so much!

Courtney May 10, 2015

Honestly, I think you’re being a horrible mother. Its not good for her diet at all, and no your husband is not healthy. Everything you said is just so illogical. So if family eat rum balls in front of your daughter and she wants to try it, its ok. Thats what your logic is. I cant believe you even married someone who isnt vegan. He kills animals. He is a killer. And you are raising your daughter as one. Its NEVER been about being healthy. Its about protecting and helping animals. Its about saving the planet. Stop being so stupid and selfish. I bet you’re fine with her eating McDonalds poison. Probably give her vaccines too!!!!

Yolie May 16, 2015

Are you serious? You are a monster! I hope you some poor child doesn’t have to endure a life with you as their mother. Self rightous freak! Get some help and find some happiness! Peace sister

Anna May 18, 2015

I hope one day when you are seeking compassion and understanding from others, their words will be less judgemental and nasty than the words you are throwing at a perfect stranger. You may not agree with her decision, but there are ways to respectfully disagree and not resort to nasty name-calling.

Sarah May 7, 2015

I loved reading your opinion on this! My boyfriend is a vegetarian but I am not, and I am constantly trying to find more insight on how to respect his beliefs. Great post!

Katie May 3, 2015

I love this healthy attitude about your daughter’s diet and I think it shows a great deal of respect and love for your child. There is way too much “food shaming” in our culture today and you are absolutely right; it is because we are so privileged that we even get to discuss it. As a Christian, for example, I believe that we are allowed to eat whatever we want and whatever is available, but we are also called to be good stewards of the earth and animals. For me, that looks like going vegan because my body and my circumstances are a good fit for a vegan diet. Others may honor those same beliefs through difference choices. The respect you are showing your daughter by allowing her to choose reminds me of my own mother. She always encouraged me to simply become myself, and I’m incredibly grateful to her for raising me that way. :-)

Jordyn May 1, 2015

I am so glad I happened upon this article! When I became vegan last year, I knew that my husband would have no interest in it (at least not right away). We struggled with what my daughter could and could not eat. Eventually, we came to the agreement that she would be vegetarian until she was 5, and then she could make her own decision on what she wanted to eat.

Its been hard for me, because as a mom you want the best for your child and if I feel like I am eating the best, I want the same for her. But this article has really helped me to let go a little bit. Her dad feeds her well, and everyone in my family is aware that she is vegetarian. Shes happy and healthy and that’s all I can ask for.

Thanks Angela for your words, and all your amazing recipes! Oh She Glows is my go to for new ideas :) :) :)

Courtney May 10, 2015

A 5 year old isnt capable of deciding what is good for them and the planet. If she decides to drink alcohol, its your fault.

Virginia Macgregor May 1, 2015

Dear Angela,

First of all, thank you for ‘you’ – the authentic, lovely, positive, down to earth you. I really enjoy reading your blog and cooking from your beautiful cookbook – which, wonderfully, I managed to get in the UK. Second, I am so, so keen to share your experience of being a mother. I gave birth to a little girl, Tennessee Skye, on the 3rd of March 2014. She is a complete joy – though an exhausting one too! I’ve struggled a bit to keep up with my healthy diet as preparing things with her in my arms – she’s not that keen on being on her own in a chair or on the floor – is a real challenge. But I have tried to draw her into the process and to explain to her what I’m doing and what ingredients I’m using and why. One of the real struggles I’ve had is with her food. She has only just started eating properly and she is now 14 months old. She is quite fussy, despite my attempts to give her a wide range of food. I so want her to grow up loving good, wholesome, yummy food, willing to try anything and I have the same philosophy as you of leaving her to decide – and my husband isn’t vegan either, and is a little more resistant than your Eric to trying my cooking, but I’m working on it! All this to say that I would LOVE you to post the occasional baby friendly recipe that is made from delicious whole food, packed with goodness and colour and planet kind ingredients. I know you’ll probably say that you’re happy just to give Adriana the same as you eat, but I thought it might be nice to have a few recipes especially for them…Tennessee often finds the things I love a little spicy or odd – she pulls a face! Anyway, just a thought. But thank you again, that’s the main reason I wrote. Have a lovely day, Virginia

Ruth Bush April 29, 2015

Hi Angela. I’m mostly vegan and my husband eats meat. I feel similar about the topic but we are choosing to raise our son with a meat-free diet. I would also like to make it as dairy free as possible. When he is older, he can choose to eat whatever he wants too. I was raised on meat and potatoes and I came into my own with seeking out knowledge of the harsh food industry. I hope he will do the same but it will be his choice:)

xoxo Ruth

Cristin April 24, 2015

Keep blogging!!!!!! I miss all of your recipes and baby updates!

Darrah April 24, 2015

I’m so disappointed that you have stopped posting. Even the food page doesn’t have anything new. I think by letting the negative comments get to you, you will only lose your fan base. It is frustrating to keep checking one of your favorite blogs and seeing nothing new for weeks on end :(

Anna April 24, 2015

Well, I’m sure she’s quite busy creating and testing recipes for her second cookbook and taking care of Adriana. :) I don’t think the lack of new posts are only because of the recent negativity

Courtney May 10, 2015

She already lost her fan base by being a hypocrite and a bad mom.

Carly May 19, 2015

Seriously you need to get a grip. Someone is not a bad mom for making a decision about allowing their child choice. People have different values. I am an atheist and will bring my child up to know about religion but not to practice one, but I do NOT go around calling people who bring their child up Christian bad parents for “instilling lies about the sky god and indoctrinating and forcing them”. I respect our differences and their choices.

Cherie April 24, 2015

I’m sure this approach will work out well for you. I have an 11 year old who was raised in a similar way (as far as diet goes anyway ;-) ). His dad is a total omnivore and I am vegetarian and never cook meat. So, at our house the meals are either vegan or vegetarian, mostly vegan. However, when eating out, at Grandparents, etc. meat is often part of the equation. I wish it wasn’t, but overall I am happy that both my dh and ds eat well at home and often order vegetarian or vegan options when eating out as well.
What I have found interesting is that while my dh will eat almost any meat, my son only eats his dad’s favorites, so that’s an improvement at any rate.
Another funny thing that has happened over the years is my husband has gone from being slightly embarrassed by my dietary requests at conferences, etc. to ordering the vegetarian options for himself as a default. He says the meat at these things is always horrible and he would find himself jealous of my meal, :).

Julie April 24, 2015

I really hope some of these comments don’t dissuade you from posting more baby updates. I really miss hearing about Adriana. My 2nd little girl is almost 12 weeks and I love reading your updates and seeing what’s ahead. It is ridiculous how much I have forgotten from only 2 years ago!

Ashley April 22, 2015

Angela – please don’t let all the rude people stop you from posting about your beautiful daughter. I love your updates!

Courtney May 10, 2015

We arent being rude. We actually care about her daughter.

Jay Dave April 21, 2015

I hear much about not wanting to force values down their childs throat – and letting them choose. If your value – lets say it’s veganism or vegetarianism – not consuming or contributing to the unnecessary deaths of other living beings. That value is important, taking the line of I’ll let my child know and they can decide – is a view I see taken by people who are not strong in their belief. You’d rather let society, media, peer pressure subtely force the value of eating meat, animal products down your childs throat.

Compassion, Kindness – those who choose this path of being vegan. veggie must cultivate this for themselves and ALL other beings – your children, animals, non-cute animals, insects – everything.

I was raised up in a lacto-veggie household with three other siblings. I am ever so grateful for my mum’s teachings and remember the ethics, morals, values (yes, at the time via Hinduism) that she instilled in me – by discussion, saying I cannot eat meat, eggs, poultry and such – and strong reasoning, examples, discussions. I have never wained – I knew deep down within me that it’s wrong. My mum didn’t take a flakey half assed approach, she’s a strong confident woman and dedicated to the Hindu vegetarian values she has – that determination, dedication has rubbed off on all her children.

Not being confident, strong and firm in your beliefs and not passing that intensity on to your child – I believe you are just going to let the stronger (in this case – the media, peers and pressures from all that crap) instead pollute the mind of your child.

Judith April 20, 2015

There are plenty of fats in a vegan diet: avocado, nuts, seeds, coconuts and coconut oil, olives and olive oil, and other oils. If you go to:
veganhealth dot org/articles/realveganchildren, you’ll see examples of many children who have been raised vegan since birth and are thriving. There are no problems with brain development in any of these children.

Dr. Richard Oppenlander, author of Comfortably Unaware, has raised his three children as vegan from birth and they are all healthy adults.

If a child is not fed enough calories, whether omnivore or plant based diet, there will be serious health issues.

The only nutrient vegans need to supplement is B12. All other nutrients are found in adequate amounts in a plant based diet.

Lori April 17, 2015

Loving your book. Please consult with a doctor, kids need animal fats in some quantity for their brain development. Vegetarians get animal fats, vegan do not and some children have gotten irreparable damage.

Courtney May 10, 2015

Lies. All lies. You clearly know nothing. Animal fats arent needed at all. Just fats are. Avocados are one of many options of HEALTHY fats.

Karissa April 16, 2015

I read this right when you posted it, and it really got me thinking about WHY we label ourselves. It’s such an odd thing to do, and really unnecessary. You are inspiring people to try new things whether part of a plant based diet or just a supplemental meal, thats amazing and does more for the “vegan movement” then spreading negativity, blame and judgment. Who would want to be a part of that?

Kayla Panchmatia April 16, 2015

I am Vegan mostly because of animal cruelty issues and only somewhat due to health. I personally do not condone taking the life away from an animal big or small and so would not personally feed my child anything but vegan food. However, the bf eats meat and so if he were to cook meals and feed her, I would just ask that the meat/dairy/eggs at least come from “humane” sources. (Quotations around humane because the animal ends up dead in the end which I consider not humane but at least from a source where they were able to live their shortened life not only pain and suffering free but also with joy). I would also expect that other family members respect that and feed the child only vegan or else “humane” meals. I would quite honestly be upset if my child were to start eating meat and give no regard or care as to where the meat came from such as a factory farm.

jenna April 16, 2015

We are a vegan family. Our children eat vegan. They were breast fed for three years. One is still nursing. The hardest part is my family understanding our plant based diet. They don’t understand we have made a healthier choice for our children. And birthday parties that serve awful pizza and store cake! My child has cried because she feels left out. Only recently have her true friends been kind and considerate enough to buy a vegan cupcake or cookies for her and her brother. She is only seven and has always been vegan. It is also very hard traveling and feeding your children plant based meals. Your decision sounds like a great one based on our experience. I wish you all the best.

Hailey April 15, 2015

Angela, I hope that these comments do not discourage you from continuing your baby shares. I love them and look forward to them and have a daughter a few weeks older than yours. I also appreciate your honesty and feel that it does a lot to make all of us healthier. I am not vegan, but have eaten much more plant-based since following your blog. We all have to live our lives the way we see fit and have no right to ridicule and judge others. You have made a huge, positive difference in MANY people’s lives and that’s what matters!

Des April 14, 2015

I really, truly, hope all you vegans are pro-life…otherwise you’re the world’s biggest hypocrites. I also find it amazing that you (the holier than thou vgns…not the kind ones) tout compassion when you have none for humans unless they believe just like you. Yes, teach your children to be little jerks who worship animals and hate the murderers who eat them. I’m sure they’ll do a lot of good reaching out to others to save animals.

Angela, I am impressed with your healthy and balanced decision. It’s also a great decision to make in order to be respectful of your husband and not just steamroll him with your beliefs. I was a vgn for year (yes, a real one….PETA and all that jazz). Now I eat mostly veg, love vgn foods, and the only vegetarian in my house is my five year old, who is well on his was to veganism as he is very passionate about animals. I am supportive and standing up for his rights to not eat gelatin or rennet or any other hidden meat crap, but I am also teaching him true compassion. For all life. Not animals as superior. As a christian I do not believe animals are equal to us in anyway…and the nonbeliever who quoted the bible as a means for Christians to be veg needs to study a bit more. That said, abusing animals is wrong. I would just differ with a lot of you on what constitutes as abuse.

Anyway, thanks for being real.

Courtney May 10, 2015

I dont have compassion for humans that think killing animals is ok. Those humans are worse than anything.

Molly April 14, 2015

I’ve been a vegetarian for over 10 years and I’m constantly asked whether or not I’ll be raising my two kids that way!

apolloandluna.com

K Bourne April 14, 2015

This comment thread just goes to show that there is no place on the internet that is safe from angry/crazy people. Extremism is dangerous in all forms.

I love the the new foods I’m introduced to through this blog and I think Angela seems like a wonderful mom. I hope that when I’m a mom some day, that I will have the ability to provide as much lovingly prepared meals as Angela provides her family.

Laura April 13, 2015

I am really disappointed at this post, just because your husband is omni why should that matter? Your husband is a grown adult that know where is meat comes from, even if it’s organic, cage-free or whatever it is, it’s still the dead flesh of another animal who wanted to live. I don’t understand why people say that if you’re a vegan raising your child vegan then you’re imposing your choices on this child, but if you’re an omni everyone just assumes you’re doing the right thing. This is ludicrous! You say you want her to try different foods but she doesn’t have the ability or conscious understanding where her food comes
From and the suffering that it implies, that’s why parents make choices for their children, including diet wise and values, then when they get old and have the full understanding they can choose for themselfs. But to say she needs to try different foods and decide on her own is ridiculous, given her age.

I don’t understand why a vegan would raise a child to eat meat and animals,
Doesn’t make sense.

Kayla Panchmatia April 16, 2015

I do agree, by raising your child to eat omni or meat you are imposing as well and just as much as raising your child vegan. Only way out would be to not feed a child and see what they do to sustain life! lol probably not too ethical hey ;)

Courtney May 10, 2015

Exactly, shes being a horrible mother and person.

JVH April 10, 2015

First off, most of the comments here are awesome and encouraging. But wow, there are also a lot of judgy people commenting on this. It’s fantastic to care about animals and how they are treated (we need much more of that in the world), but if you aren’t even kind to other humans, or even likable, then what’s the use? Don’t you think there is bigger tofu to fry? Also, let’s not forget the environmental impact from the cultivation of many plants for food (e.g., water demands for chickpeas, lentils and asparagus, or the whole quinoa debate). Vegans don’t have the monopoly on ethical eating. But I am willing to bet that most people here try their best to eat in ways that are kinder to ourselves, animals and the planet. Can we please celebrate that instead of judging people who don’t live up to our standards?

Milan April 9, 2015

New to your website…gotta say this post is actually what made me feel like exploring it further. I have been curious about reducing my meat intake but found the “all or none” approach way too intimidating on many sites.

Your honesty and openness is so refreshing. Having watched my older sister struggle with disordered eating for years, I’m so glad that you’re not going to label your daughter’s diet for her. I cannot stress how inspirational I find your healthy attitude to food (and the journey it took to get you there).

Thank you for encouraging young women everywhere :)

Tania April 8, 2015

When you have a child, your priority becomes doing what’s best for the child’s health and that means sometimes letting go of your own choices. Angela, I appreciate your focus on great nutrition and a balanced approach to life and to raising your daughter. And I commend you for putting you and your family’s needs first and not feeling pressured by opinionated people (all kinds). One thing I’e noticed from trying to eat healthier is how defensie people become (i.e your too healthy/you’re not healthy enough/oh your one of those moms…etc…) Just keep doing what you’re doing, because you are doing it fabulously!

Nicole April 8, 2015

After reading everyone’s comments, I would like to offer this response: it is not right to suggest that anyone who does not choose a vegan life for themselves and their family is lacking in compassion towards animals or the earth. It makes it sound like vegans have no empathy for those who choose another way. There are many reasons that people eat as they do. Lead by example not by words.

Linda April 8, 2015

This is the first comment I have made on anyone’s blog, but I was so impressed by your thoughtful, mature and loving report about your plans for your daughter’s diet that I had to tell you. I am sorry you have experience hateful comments about your decision–what a shame. I commend you for your decision and heartily agree with it.

Let me also tell you that I frequently visit your website, love your food and have purchased your first cookbook for myself and my daughter and am planning on purchasing your second one. Your avocado spaghetti is a much loved staple at my table

Andrea D. April 7, 2015

I think it’s great that you’re gonna let Adriana choose for herself!. I’m vegetarian transitioning to vegan and have two month old twin boys. I plan on raising them vegan because to me it would be the healthiest thing for them, but if at some point when they’re older they decide to stop, I will support them 100%. Tmi, but I don’t produce enough milk (like maybe an ounce a day) so my babies have to be on formula. I’ve noticed that the formula doesn’t sit very well with their stomach, so I don’t think they tolerate it well (they don’t seem to have a problem with my milk). I guess it’s just another reason for me to raise them vegan.

Laurenne April 7, 2015

We take a very similar attitude with our daughters, me and my husband went vegan a year ago so obviously all we cook and eat at home is vegan (your book has been a godsend in that by the way – so thanks!). However when the girls go to party’s etc they will occasionally have dairy / eggs / non vegan sweets and if they were insistent they wanted to try meat when we were at relatives houses etc I would let them, but I tend to find they prefer to stick to the foods that are more familiar to them anyway.

My eldest at 3 years old is just starting to understand a bit more now and ask if things are vegan etc, and make her own decision on if she wants to eat them or not. We are pretty honest with her in an age appropriate way that meat is made from animals, dairy taken from cows etc. but we think it’s really important to live consensually and never want them to feel restricted by us and rebel, so we are pretty chilled about it when out etc and as they get older I’m sure they’ll do their own experimenting / researching etc and do what think is best for them :)

Good luck with the weaning, this is where the fun / mess really starts :D

Claire Kleinman April 6, 2015

I was raised Vegetarian because my parents were vegetarians and that is what they cooked and what they knew. Once I learned what it meant to be a vegetarian I was thrilled, I loved animals and felt proud knowing I was protecting them. My parents decided to feed me food aligned with their beliefs until I was old enough to decide for myself. They never denied me of any food, and aside from a piece of pepperoni I was inclined to eat (which I couldn’t tell apart from the soy alternative), I was tempted to eat meat. Sure there were pesky kids along the way who just didn’t understand or felt guilty because they too wanted to help animals, but I am so glad my parents raised me with the knowledge and freedom they did. I am 18 now and have been vegan for two years and live at home, I cant tell you the last time I saw milk in the fridge. It is a personal and sensitive topic often grounded in culture, all you can do is be honest about why you choose to eat what you do, and no matter what your child will be grateful. After all, mothers cooking is always the best cooking.

PS. I got my mom your cookbook for mothers day! (It was really a gift for the both of us)

Claire Kleinman April 6, 2015

*never tempted to eat meat

Fathima April 6, 2015
Talia April 5, 2015

I think your decision’s PERFECT! I know that feeding little Adriana plants galore (especially YOUR recipes) will result in her loving plants and considering mom’s vegan lentil loaf her favorite comfort food that she requests when home from college instead of meatloaf! :-) I’m also in love and living with someone of the opposite diet! [I wrote a whole blog post about that works!!: http://bit.ly/dateoppositediet%5D While at first I thought that being a “mixed couple” would be problematic, I’ve found that by leading by example, I can inspire him to eat healthier without an ounce of nagging – his love for meat and dairy has virtually vanished over the years (and has been replaced with a love for green smoothies and tempeh!).
xoxoxo

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