Modern vegan parents are finding themselves in front of a serious dilemma: what if their kids decide to leave the vegan lifestyle they have taught when raising them? With more and more parents taking this road, the “unfortunate” situation described above has become relevant, out of the surface, more evident than ever before.
For devoted vegans, this may be a tragic situation. Once they reach an age where they can take their own decisions, kids may choose to have a non-vegan diet, trying to leave behind what they were told during their entire childhood.
What would happen in such scenario? What would this imply to the parents and their relationship with their sons and daughters? Less than you think, actually.
Sooner or Later, Doubts Will Take Place
Let’s face it: the vast majority of our society continues to be omnivorous, having mixed diets that include foods of both animal and plant origins.
Inside your home, being devoted to a vegan lifestyle is relatively easy. The real challenge begins when we go out. The advertising industry spends billions in order to make us crave for hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled steaks, and sugar-packed pastries. As adults, we have better chances controlling ourselves. But the younger generations may be more susceptible to these strong and always-present incitements.
Sooner or later, your kid will socialite with others, sharing thoughts and preferences with friends at the school, later at high school and college. These changes will bring new experience alongside with these people they hang out with, something that includes new foods to try.
You can't blame your kids for being curious, for wanting to eat a hamburger with their friends. Doubts will take place and here is when the "dreading decision" may form itself.
Sharing Values, Not Imposing Them
Teaching new generations to be vegan isn’t about imposing our way of life as the only acceptable one. We vegans must understand that our values aren’t compatible with everyone out there, that they have an optional nature.
Your kids may enjoy their vegan diet today and the reasons could vary. It may be the taste or the nutritional value. However, what truly sticks are the values of the lifestyle. Teaching your kids about these values may be the most important thing among all.
Younger generations must see the vegan lifestyle as an ethical way to treat the world that surrounds them. When kids choose to eat a vegan meal, they must know that they are saving animals indeed; that their actions matter. Still, these values and their meaning must be shared, not imposed by force. Show them that their effort comes with a reward.
Pride in Being Vegetarian
When the time is right, your kids may choose to eat other foods that aren’t vegan. Therefore, you must respect the decision. This doesn’t mean that there is nothing else you can do. Parents still have a last shot.
Kids are often proud and they will boast about the things they do and achieve. This isn’t something negative per se. If your children are proud of their good deeds, they will shape their character around those things, being inevitably attracted to continue with their vegan journey.
Remind your kids that being vegan is something to be proud of. Not that eating meat is “shameful” or “unethical”, opinions that may cause more harm than good, but that vegan meals represent something positive and constructive for society as a whole.
Make It Interesting, Hope for the Best, and Be Loving
Besides planting the seed of pride, your role as a vegan parent that is trying to teach the lifestyle to its children is to make it interesting. Kids are easy to distract with colourful, sweet treats. Be creative and always invest yourself in making different things for your kids to eat, this if you are seriously trying to raise them as vegans of heart.
Beyond this point, there is little to nothing you can do as a parent. Hope for the best and be loving with your children, who at some point may share with you the news that they don’t want to continue with their vegan diet. If so, accept it with a smile on your face and support them.
It can be tough to force our kids to do something they don’t want to, even something as big and life-changing as being vegan, may bring more problems than benefits. A vegan lifestyle is a life of ethics, ecological awareness, and humane way to thought. However, teach younger generations that if they choose a non-vegan diet, they can still work and make positive things for the only planet we have, for the beings that surround us.