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How To Teach Kids About Being Vegan
In this article you will learn some of the best ways to teach kids about being vegan and why you would like to raise them that way!
If you are raising your kids to be vegan from day one, they’ll be a point in which you’ll want to teach them what being vegan means and why you chose to raise them that way.
If you’re transitioning your child to a vegan diet, and they are at an age where they question why you don’t want them to eat ‘normal’ anymore; then you’ll want to explain why!
And, you’ll want to explain to them in a way that they can understand, no matter what their age is!
Speaking of age…
At What Age Should You Start Teaching Your Child About Being Vegan?
Like most things, when you teach your child about being vegan, what that means, and how important it is to you, will depend on the child.
The youngest they may start to understand and put two to two together, that eating meat is eating animals or that it’s not right to drink another animal’s milk, will be around 3 or 4 years old.
I’m not saying all kids will understand, or care, at those ages, but that’s the youngest I’ve seen a child being able to comprehend that knowledge.
So, you can certainly try to start teaching them about veganism at that age, or younger, but just like with everyone, the more they learn and the more their learning is reinforced, the better they’ll understand!
How Do I Talk To My Little One About Being Vegan?
I’m sure there are conflicting answers to this question.
Most people may not want their preschool aged kids to know that eating meat is really eating a cow, pig, chicken, or another animal.
Little kids usually love animals, and hearing that people who eat meat are really eating the animals they love, may upset them. This is especially true if it’s an adult they look up to and trust.
Which is probably why you’re reading this. You don’t want to upset your child, but you want them to understand why they don’t consume animal products.
To be honest, I watched a lot of health documentaries when my oldest daughter was 4.
That’s how she learned about the health benefits of eating a vegan (or whole food plant based) diet, and how she learned about the animal cruelty that goes into the food industry.
That’s probably not how most parents would intentionally teach their kids about being vegan.
But it worked for her!
She went into kindergarten teaching her friends all about what is and isn’t healthy and why, to the best of her ability! She even understood enough in kindergarten to turn down an ice cream sundae for her classes ice cream sundae party; she had tea, instead!
(Side note- I had discussed with her teacher before the school year started that we’re vegan, and I was fortunate to find out that her kindergarten teacher was mostly vegan, as well! I understand not everyone is so fortunate.)
But, maybe you don’t want to introduce those graphic documentaries to your child so young.
In that case, there are other ways to teach them;
- Read them vegan kids books
- Talk to them about it
- Let them help you in the kitchen
- Scroll through instagram or Pinterest with them to create a meal plan (and point out what the recipes require and why you don’t want to use meat or dairy in a recipe)
- Wait til they start asking questions about it, and answer those questions honestly
Your best bet to help them understand why THEY are vegan is to tell them in your own words, when it comes up naturally.
Don’t worry if it hasn’t come up naturally, yet.
If it doesn’t come up naturally before they go to school or have playdates without you being there, then it may be a good idea to have a casual talk about being vegan and how your family eats a little differently than a lot of families.
Be sure to point out;
- That eating the way they do helps them be healthy, strong, and smart.
- That you don’t know if they have allergies to meat, dairy, or eggs, and you don’t want to find out by accidentally eating something with those foods in it.
- Also explain what it means to be allergic to something if they don’t already know.
- Make sure they understand to ask what a food has in it before eating something someone else gives to them, even a trusted adult (like a teacher or friend’s parent).
- Make sure they understand to tell adults feeding them that they can’t have animal products, as it could be an allergen or make them not feel well afterwards.
- Let them know that it is not alright to trade food with other kids at lunch time.
And then be sure to answer any questions they may have!
For older kids, around 7 years and older, you may ask…
How do I teach my child to be a vegan?
By this age, kids are certainly old enough to decide what they want to eat!
Goodness, my 7 year old has already told me she’s decided what she wants to be when she grows up! And that’s a big decision! (She wants to be a baker; she’s currently making cookies while I type this up!)
If you raised your child vegan all their life, and have educated them about being vegan along the way; then at this point they already know how to be a vegan! Yay you for preparing them!
However, if you are transitioning them to a vegan diet, it can be downright HARD!
First, be sure to know WHY you have chosen to help them transition to a vegan diet.
Then, be sure to tell them!
For example, maybe you chose to help them transition to be vegan for:
- Their health
- The animals
- The planet
Explain in it a way that they’ll understand.
If you don’t feel confident explaining it to them, consider letting them watch health documentaries, or even youtube videos on the topic.
If they’re teens, then try giving them a book to read on the topic, possibly even one that you’ve read first so you can discuss it with them if they have questions or want to discuss it.
How to Help Your Child Transition to a Vegan Diet
Getting a child to transition to eating vegan can be easy, such as if they chose to be vegan or they are against animal cruelty, want better health, or want to save the planet; but it can also be really difficult.
And the older they are when they transition, the harder it will be.
I’m not saying this to make you feel like you’re about to embark on an uphill struggle to get your kids to eat a healthy vegan diet.
But, it’s not going to be as easy to get say a teenager to eat a veggie burger, as it is to get a toddler to eat a bowl full of sweet potato chickpea curry. (My 14 month old loves curry!)
For some older kids, it may not be the taste of the foods they dislike, but the fact that they aren’t used to it or that it’s not normal to eat so healthy.
That’s why one of the best ways to get older kids on board with eating vegan is by explaining what it means and why it’s so important. At this age it’s all about the way they think about it.
If they used to eat a lot of meat, and you need a quick and easy way to transition them, there are tons of alternative meats available today from many different brands. Such as by Morningstar Foods, Lite Life, Gardein, Some of Amy’s Products.
I’m sure there’s other brands, but I think you get the picture.
Those plant based meats can fool most people into thinking they are actually eating meat, when they aren’t (even kids who are super picky and husbands!).
There are even recipes you can find online that are 100% plant-based/vegan, affordable to make, and mimic the meat or dairy products your kids used to eat.
However, if your kids know you’re vegan, and they see you eating them; they’re probably going to know somethings up, and that what they’re eating isn’t real meat.
So, instead of trying to make plant based alternatives to the meat they used to eat, trying to serve them other meals that don’t need that alternative, may be a better option.
You know, so they can’t complain there’s no animal products in it, when that’s the ‘normal’ way to eat it.
If you’re kids aren’t enjoying the transition to a vegan diet then it could be the way they think about the food, rather than not liking the food itself, which I know is frustrating; it’s a whole lot easier to change the way something tastes than the way someone thinks.
If they’re old enough, watching some documentaries may help them understand a bit more why it’s so important, maybe help them change their mindset about eating mostly plants.
And I say for them to watch documentaries not because I don’t think you could explain it to them yourself, but because some kids learn (and listen) better when it’s not their parents trying to talk to them.
So if you feel like you’ve been repeating yourself over and over again about why they should eat better and reduce/cut out animal products; take a break and let someone else explain it to them!
You have to remember, they’re just like everyone else, they have to come to the conclusion on their own that eating vegan is the best thing they can do for so many reasons.
Learning about it, over and over again in different ways, from as early an age as possible will help them get to that point sooner!
How to Help Your Child Enjoy Being Vegan
Being vegan is a great thing!
So make sure your kids can feel great about being vegan, too!
Being vegan means they aren’t contributing to;
- animal cruelty
- greenhouse gases (through what they eat)
They’ll also be less likely to end up with chronic health issues later in life that could’ve been prevented through a better diet or lifestyle.
Let them know this!!
Also, let them help with meals in whatever ways they can.
It’s a lot easier to make meals, plan meals, and enjoy eating meals when they help.
Not only is it less stress on you, but if they help then they’ll have less to complain about when it comes time to eating the food planned and prepared!
My 7 year old enjoys scrolling through my home feed on Instagram and saving the photos of foods she thinks look delicious & that have a recipe included in the post under it.
Which makes my job a whole lot easier when it comes to meal planning and making sure I include new foods to try & foods that she will eat or at least try; since she was the one who chose them.
Side note– I bring up my 7 year old because she is the classic ‘picky eater’ in the family and I wasn’t able to transition her to a vegan diet til I started staying home with her at age 4, my next oldest was 1 when I started staying home, so she didn’t have as much of a ‘transition’.
This isn’t to make it sound impossible to transition a child to a vegan diet if you don’t stay home with them. But, those who care for your kids while you’re at work must respect your food choices for your kids while they are in their care, while trying to raise vegan kids.
Other ways to help your kids enjoy being vegan;
- let them make food with you, teach them
- let them create their own recipe and surprise you!
- let them choose which new vegan recipe to try for the week
- read books and watch documentaries together
- enjoy a vegan dessert (like nice cream or chocolate chip chickpea cookies!)
- ask them what they would like to eat next week for each meal or snacks and see if you can fit it into the meal plan
- always have healthy snacks available!
Teaching a child to be vegan, talking to them about it, and helping them enjoy a vegan diet may not always be easy, but knowing that you are providing them with good nutrition and helping them avoid foods that will cause inflammation and chronic health issues in life is certainly worth any struggle you may encounter.
Didn’t start from the beginning? Start Here!
Need some inspiration for being or raising vegan? Check out the vegan quotes in Vegan Quotes: For Health, the Planet, & the Animals!