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Teacher Bullying YOUR Vegan Child? Find out what YOU should DO!
We all know that raising a vegan child isn’t always going to be easy. They’ll be ‘normal’ issues that arise, and of course those who do not agree with our beliefs that we shouldn’t harm innocent animals for food (or whatever else).
However, our kids SHOULD NEVER have to deal with harassment at school, from a teacher, about the way they are being raised to eat and treat all other beings!
For full disclosure, I’m fortunate enough to have my kids at home for school (during the pandemic). And during the one year before the pandemic started and my oldest child was in kindergarten, we were fortunate enough that her teacher was also vegan (and their pediatrician also approved of my kids vegan diet).
I know not everyone is as fortunate, and I am truly sorry for any disapproval/guilt you may have to endure while raising healthy and ethical kids.
So, please note that the situation experienced below is not my own, but is an example from a vegan parenting group. An experience that is brought up, if not daily, at the very least weekly, in the group.
An experience that is absurd and would never happen if everyone was actually properly educated on the very basics of human nutrition.
A mother of a 2nd grader was told by her son that his teacher told him that he can’t get enough protein on a vegan diet. The mother asks in the group how to handle this situation in a kind matter.
Obviously, the first thing you should do when your child tells you something like this happened is to reassure them that being vegan is healthy, is kind, and is honestly the only way we can be going forward as educated and responsible human beings.
And Before Judging the Teacher
The first thing we must understand in this situation is that teachers require absolutely no knowledge in nutrition to become a teacher.
Secondly, the teacher has a right to their own opinion.
However, that does not mean they get to shove their opinion in our childs face, making them feel bad about their eating habits, making your child think less of you because of the way you’re raising them.
But, let’s give the teacher the benefit of the doubt. We weren’t there when it happened, our child might have interpreted what the teacher said in a manner differently than the teacher intended.
Either way, if you’re in this situation, you’re going to want to have a talk with the teacher.
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When You Talk With the Teacher About Your Child Being Vegan
What you say during your talk with the teacher is ultimately up to you.
But be sure you bring up how your child felt after their interaction with the teacher on this matter, along with how it makes you feel, as the parent.
In the vegan parenting group, there were many other suggestions, as well!
Some suggestions were:
- Asking for proof for the teacher being a registered dietitian. Because being a ‘nutritionist’ doesn’t count, as there is no rigorous education or training to become a nutritionist
- Giving the teacher an article (or links to many articles) to educate them on vegan protein (they’re teachers, they should be interested in learning the truth about things, at least that’s the hope!)
- Let the teacher know that raising kids on a vegan diet is approved by the Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine AND the American Academy of Pediatrics
- Email teacher links/resources so they can learn more about the families veganism- aka- it’s healthy, it’s more ethical, etc
- Ask the teacher about her point of view for the conversation and how she intended what she said to be interpreted
If your child seems really upset about the situation and can’t shake what the teacher said, or if this isn’t the first instance the teacher has mentioned something like this, then it may be time to escalate the situation. Though, some other vegan parents may believe that it should be escalated straight away, or at least have a 3rd party present during the conversation with the teacher.
If the Situation Needs to be Escalated
If the situation needs to be escalated then going to the principal or superintendent of the school would be the next (or first?) step.
Some parents may feel comfortable starting with having a conversation with the teacher, while having the principal of the school present. Honestly though, I think that would just encourage the teacher to lie to look better in front of the principal.
As other parents in the group suggested, I agree that it might be best to go straight to the principal if this is a second (or more) offense, or after speaking with the teacher directly.
Another parent suggested to ensure the principal knows that veganism is not just a way of eating, but also a belief system, like a religion, and should not be looked down, or talked down, upon.
If going to the principal does nothing, then go to the superintendent, or a local news channel if need be; maybe they won’t want to be seen as the school who has teachers that bully their students…
It’s bad enough that schools can’t stop students from bullying other students, but to have teachers who bully too…
Worst Case Scenario
First of all, you should not let this go if it continues to be an issue.
A one off incident is one thing, maybe the teacher isn’t properly educated on nutrition, has no clue how vegan eating/nutrition works, or is simply ignorant of what they said and the impact it would have.
But, multiple incidents and it’s intentional and at the very least your child should be pulled from that teachers class and put into another one.
A teacher should never harass a student about their eating habits, lifestyle, or beliefs. A teacher who does this is not a teacher you should trust to watch over your child for a majority of their day. If they do this, who knows what else they do.
If switching your childs class isn’t enough, maybe the teacher at fault still sees your child in the halls and simply seeing that teacher during the day makes your child feel uncomfortable/guilty/unsecure in themselves.
Then maybe switching schools, or even resorting to homeschooling, or an online public school at home would be a better option.
Ultimately, it is up to you what you do, what works best for your situation, and how comfortable you are in doing what you decide to do.
Obviously, if there is no adult at home most of the day then you wouldn’t be able to homeschool or have your child go through a public school online at home. But maybe switching schools, or switching classes would be enough.
Everyone is going to feel slightly differently, and have slightly different options available to them.
My hope is that the teacher was simply not knowledgeable enough on the topic and that it’s one time thing that won’t be brought up again.
But if it does, know there are ways to escalate it.
Know that you, the parent, are not wrong in your decision to raise a vegan child. And if you feel inadequate in anyway for raising a vegan child, reach out to a vegan dietitian to ease your worries, or read up on vegan nutrition to help ensure your child is getting proper nutrition.
My favorite book for vegan child nutrition is Becoming Vegan: The Complete Reference to Plant-Based Nutrition