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.
Comments are now closed – May 20/15
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.
Angela – please don’t let all the rude people stop you from posting about your beautiful daughter. I love your updates!
We arent being rude. We actually care about her daughter.
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!
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, :).
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 :(
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
She already lost her fan base by being a hypocrite and a bad mom.
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.
Keep blogging!!!!!! I miss all of your recipes and baby updates!
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:)
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
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 :) :) :)
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.
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. :-)
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!
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!!!!
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
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.
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!
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.
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
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.