Vegan Pregnancy and Parenting are an online community of people that have come together to talk pregnancy and parenting - as vegans of course! I have been lucky enough to grab some time out of Janet's (the admin of the Facebook group and social accounts) busy parenting diary to ask questions and share the answers with all of you! Read on for the full interview!
So I suppose the most obvious question is, have you gone through vegan pregnancy and are you a vegan parent yourself?
Yes, two in fact. We are a 100% vegan household, which includes myself, my husband, two kids, a cat, Roberta from Brazil who is here working for the year, my friend, two chickens, five ducks, and a groundhog who lives in the greenhouse. We’re close to running a commune at this stage! Ha. Both kids have been vegan from birth, so they don’t know anything else. We are both vegan parents. It took my husband a little longer than me, and he was a vegetarian first, then watched some documentaries, and it really opened his eyes.
wow! that's a very busy vegan household - sound fun! You have a huge Facebook Community and a quickly growing Instagram and twitter following, but where did it all begin?
A few years ago, I joined ‘Vegan Pregnancy and Parenting’ on Facebook, it had a small membership, and it was mostly just spam, and a lot of advertising on the page. It was hard to find the conversations, or any questions that people asked. The admin at the time didn’t want to run the group, so I asked if I could take it over. I figured it had a lot of potential for vegan parents like myself, where we just didn’t have any one area to find information, and ask questions to the vegan community at large about pregnancy and parenting. After a year or two, it started to grow really quickly, and I had to ask some friends and group members for help. Since then, I’ve created the Instagram account. Pinterest, a FB page and Twitter. Between the social media, we are around thirty five thousand active users and growing at a fast rate; everyone striving to live a more peaceful life for themselves and their kids. There is a website launching soon, which is going to help parents with the group, where all the information posted in there, is more manageable to find. Especially relating to pregnancy care while being vegan, and raising vegan kids, ensuring they get enough nutrients, dealing with peer pressure for food, and just general articles posted in the group.
That's amazing. I`m not planning on having kiddies anytime soon but I have already worried about finding help as a pregnant vegan when the day comes! What is your mission and goal for Vegan P&P?
Just to have a friendly place, where people can ask ‘hey, what vitamins should I give my kid?’, without a bunch of people telling them they should make their children eat chicken.
Vegan parenting also has a bad reputation, anytime a child is in the news with vegan parents, it’s not a good story, and only reinforces that it’s a bunch of people that are starving their kids, by making them eat lettuce and carrots only. Which just isn’t true. We also have some parents, who find out their children are allergic to meat or dairy, and have nowhere to turn, it’s a big life altering bombshell, so they join the vegan groups, and find that there are thousands and thousands of children thriving on vegan diets; which I’ve seen a lot of them cut out all animal products from their homes.
You make such a great difference! With so many vegan parents counting on your social platforms for support how do you find the time to keep them all running with such great daily content?
It’s not that easy sometimes, because I want to spend time with my own family, and we have a mini farm sanctuary happening also, that we fell into accidentally.
My day is pretty structured, up at 5am, feed the ducks, chickens, check on the bees, and try not to die on the stairs as the cat tries to trip me up. In the summer, I have to weed all the growing beds. I spend an hour in the morning answering the emails and messages from people around the world, feed the kids, and then they head out for some fresh air, summer or winter. Most of the pictures on IG, are just from our lunches we have, or playing outside. I do have a great bunch of vegan friends, who help with the group. Just deleting any spam and directing people to the saved documents if they can’t find certain topics, and that helps a lot. I work full time in NYC, so that is much of my daytime gone, in the summer with the longer evenings, I can do more.
In the evenings, I answer emails again when the kids are in bed for an hour, and that’s it really. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t check in on them throughout the day, but that is more just for myself.
OK so you're a super woman right?! ha-ha! What is the best vegan parenting advice you have for our Grow Up Vegan readers?
Just be yourself. You know what you’re doing is the most ethical way of life. It’s hard with peer pressure sometimes, especially when you’re starting out. Reach out too, the online vegan communities are a great resource, with everyone striving for the same goal. To end animal suffering, and saving the planet.
That`s very true - we are all striving for the same end result. You have a really good insight to how many vegans are now raising vegan kids – would you say it’s on the rise?
Absolutely! Even just the choices now for food is outstanding; you don’t have to rely on apps, or bringing your own packed lunches everywhere, to make sure you’re not going hungry. Parents are becoming more conscious about what they are doing, and they want peaceful and understanding children, so they know that being vegan is the only right answer. When I started with the groups, I’d get maybe one email a week from new parents, or parents wanting to change to a vegan lifestyle. Now I have a hundred emails a day! Mostly from new vegan families who are starting out and finding this whole new world that they didn’t know existed.
That is so comforting to know! What is the main hot topic among the vegan parenting community?
Ah, there’s a few different ones. Mainly vaccinations, so much so, that we had to ask the members not to discuss them, and gave them places where it was a welcomed topic.
The other is having children at all; a lot of vegan’s don’t think we should be having children, but of course; you know where I stand in that argument 😊
And thank god you did have little ones - what would vegan parents do without you? For first time mums who are pregnant vegans it can be quite daunting with not much support yet from GPs, what would you say to reassure them?
A lot of people in the medical profession now are starting to come around, especially with all the new studies showing that a plant based lifestyle, is the healthiest for everyone. Of course, there are always going to be cases, where someone’s doctor just disagrees with it. I would honestly suggest finding medical professions that align with your belief, and can offer you advice.
Good advise! Like I said earlier, I'm not a parent myself yet but I think as adults we all have a responsibility to educate the younger generations on veganism, would you agree?
Yes, of course. Children are our future, and we have to teach them everything they know in life, from their ABC’s, to how to tie their shoelaces. Being vegan is just another aspect.
Glad you agree! So what’s in store for the future of Vegan Pregnancy and Parenting? Anything exclusive you can tell us?
A lot of exciting things are happening this year! We have a few writers on board to help transfer over the information between the social platforms, and condense it all into one on the website; then link it all back, so whatever medium you choose, it’s easy to find.
I’m also working with some farm sanctuaries, to highlight their work they are doing, and hopefully get them on board to organize day trips for kids, to see that animals are much more than a picture on a carton of milk.
I’m also launching a clothing line at the end of the year, of sustainable children’s clothing, that doesn’t impact the animals and the environment. While working closely with some vegan companies, who are developing skin care for new moms, like breastfeeding nipple balms that will be on our website also.
Very exciting times ahead! So watch this space!
That's incredible - I love that you're taking kids to farm sanctuaries! I absolutely will be watching this space and giving you my full support every step of the way!
Janet is a fantastic example of how veganism isn't just a diet but a lifestyle. Vegan Pregnancy and Parenting is helping thousands of people and as a result, millions of animals too! If you're expecting or are already a plant based parent then head over to the Facebook group and make some like-minded friends! Follow them on Instagram, Pinterest, and Tweet them too! I will let my subscribers know when they launch the website so be sure to Subscribe for updates!