02 April 2012

Vegan Kids and Omnivorous Kids

All Aboard!
I am the kind of vegan who does not like to stick out and be outspoken, but blend in and win people over with a softer approach.  I don't get offended if someone eats meat in front of me, unless they are making a big deal out of it.  I don't push my views on others, and wait for other people to initiate discussions.  I kind of like it when people come up to me and say they had no idea I was vegan. 

However, like every parent keeps telling me, everything changes when you have wee ones to raise.  I was not raised vegan, but turned when I went to college and had control over my diet.  I like when people can make their own choices:  I think people make stronger commitments when they see the merits in a change and do so willingly.  But with children, there is a lag time between when they can shovel food in their mouths on their own and when they can make an informed choice on what to eat.

As I mentioned, I have no personal experience with vegan kids.  I have been restlessly ruminating over how to handle my kid wanting to eat something that isn't vegan when he's too young to really get the concepts.  There's only so long that an authoritarian because-I-say-so will work without justification.  After all, why does Gwenessa get to eat the cheesy bacon and I don't?

I figured it out when watching Dinosaur Train.  This is a great science show, and despite the animation being less than what I expect from Henson, I can manage to sit through it pretty easily.  It doesn't drive me mental like Ni Hao Kai-Lan.  Though it is intended for an older audience than my little one.  But it has a paleontologist in every episode, so how can I not like?

Anyway, the characters on Dinosaur Train often "compare features" and also note what a newly introduced mesozoic creature eats.  The main characters are not vegetarian, but as the Humane Hominid at the Paleoveganology blog notes, some are happy herbivores.  No one tries to push their diet on another.  They just note and accept it.  It's a good model for children to understand different diets in a nonjudgmental way.  A quick search shows I am not the first to think of this approach, and that it works in vivo

Note that this is a good approach for teaching omnivores about vegans as well.  I imagine using the dinosaur analogy to explain to my kids' friends at some point as well, as long as the show it still on for the next few years (which I imagine it will be).

Though when my toddler starts asking about who Buddy's real father is, I know it's time to "Get outside, get into nature and make your own discoveries!"


  1. It's important to teach kids to be tolerant of others, and it's also good to instill pride in our choices. My vegan kiddo (age 6) understands that most of her friends and family are omnivores, but she also envisions a world where everything in the supermarket is vegan. For us now, there's no debate, we're vegan. I realize when she's older that she may want to eat animal products, but let me tell you, this momma's heart swells when her little girl tells her she's going to be vegan for the rest of her life.

  2. My 3.5 year old has been asking tough questions - tough because I don't want her to feel pressured or swayed. She has extensive food allergies so she sometimes asks if she's allergic to meat so I explain that we are nice to animals. Recently started her on Dinosaur Train, she loves it but thinks the T Rex is veg because he doesn't eat his friends. :)

  3. HSW, I can see that happening. I keep waiting for the velociraptors to gut someone. And I must say it was kinda weird when I saw Laura's giganotosaurus relatives attempt to attack some kentrosaurus in one episode.


Be nice! Remember everyone is entitled to their opinion.