Whether your little ones are vegan because you have raised them that way since birth, or through their own choice, it can be hard for them to articulate themselves when trying to explain it to others.Young children seem to ‘get’ that exploiting animals isn’t OK once they have had this explained to them. When offered a choice of food or footwear that didn’t cause upset to any creature, it seems instinctual that they choose the vegan option. They have good hearts. All of them! But when asked about their choices by peers and even parents, do they have the depth of knowledge and language to explain their decisions and talk with confidence?
I believe empowering our smalls with useful words, phrases and facts is hugely important and will give them the courage to talk freely about being vegan and truly believe that what they are doing is right. They wont buckle under the pressure of questions!
I asked my Marsha – who is seven and a half (the half is VERY important) what she would say when asked some common questions about being a vegan such as:
What does vegan mean?
Why don’t you use milk or eggs?
What do you eat then?
How do you stay healthy?
What about chocolate and cake don’t you miss out?
I know she has been asked these very questions by either adults or children from school. Her answers she gave really surprised me, lots of "ermmmm, ummmm, welllll…" And that's from a child I have been trying to enable with positive language for many years! It really highlighted to me the importance of having this conversation with her often so it is fresh in her mind. I want her to always feel secure that this is a good and kind thing to do – I don’t want her to doubt herself or her beliefs when quizzed.
So, here’s what I suggest she says to answer those common questions:
1. We put emphasis on being POLITE and RESPECTFUL to others beliefs.
2. We never tell people their way is wrong or that they are being unkind.
3. We make sure we say "I DON’T eat this/wear that because" not "I can’t"… I want people to get that this is a choice we both made.
Examples on how to use our three golden rules:
Q. What does vegan mean?
A. It means I don’t eat or use anything that came from an animal
Q. Why don’t you use milk or eggs?
A. I think it’s kinder to leave animals alone and not take their stuff
Q. What do you eat then?
A. The same kind of things as everyone else, just made with different ingredients
Q. How do you stay healthy?
A. By eating lots of different foods – same as everybody else! My mum usually takes care of that stuff
Q. What about chocolate and cake – don’t you miss out?
A. I LOVE chocolate and cake! You don’t need animals to make treats!
My go to phrase is "I believe this is the kindest thing to do" No one can argue with kindness!
Thankfully we haven’t yet come across anyone that would pull the classic ‘but humans are supposed to eat meat, that’s why we have these teeth’ on a little girl. But I know the day will come- and when it does I will make sure I share the experience and write up how to stay positive during confrontation about raising your children to Grow Up Vegan!
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