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How To Help Your Vegan Child With Food Peer Pressure
In this article you will learn how to help your child deal with peer pressure when it comes to other kids (or adults) trying to influence the food they eat!
We all know that peer pressure can make kids, and some adults, do some pretty dumb things!
But, did you know that it can change what people eat, as well? We don’t realize that there are social influences on food choices, but there are.
And, without sounding like a sociology professor, what we eat is largely determined by who we eat with, or what others around us are eating. This goes for adults and kids.
It’s why going vegan all by yourself is a challenge and why raising vegan kids when your extended family or friends aren’t, is a challenge.
That’s why it is so important to teach your kids not only what is vegan, but also why they should be vegan.
A child who is old enough to go to school is old enough to understand basic concepts such as ‘healthy food’, or not eating animals or drinking milk that is meant for another animal, not humans.
Having a talk with your kids before they start eating at places other than home, or at least once they’re school age, is important.
Kids also tend to try to share food, and be curious as to why others don’t eat the same way.
And because not everyone is vegan, they may feel weird for eating differently than others…
Or, they may be completely ok with it and tell their new friends that what they are eating (the friend) isn’t healthy or nice!
So now that you know just how important it is to help our children stay strong and continue eating vegan despite what their friends eat; let’s dig into how we can actually do this!
Start Young; Make Vegan & Plant Based Foods the Norm
If we raise our kids with healthy, vegan, whole plant foods in our home, and on our tables, from the day they start eating solid food; they’ll think that’s completely normal!
So, by the time they go to school, they’ll think their friends are the odd ones when they eat unhealthy food.
If your children are still really little, this is the best route you can take for preparing your kids to eat healthy and vegan in the face of peer pressure.
When my oldest was in kindergarten she was so proud of the way she ate and that she ate healthy.
She even used to come home telling me what the other kids ate and how it’s not healthy or gross.
…Alright, maybe she’s watched a few too many health documentaries with me and knows a little too much of the process animal products go through to become available to the general public.
Make Being Vegan a priority in your life
You don’t have to obsess over it and get mad at anyone in your family who eats something non-vegan once in a while. But, making eating vegan a priority in your life will show your kids just how important it is.
And, don’t just make it a priority, try to keep learning about it, too!
Watch documentaries about health, get a couple of books, and cookbooks.
These can be resources for your whole family to enjoy, especially if you have older children.
If they learn why it’s so important, either by you making it a priority, or by learning more about it; it’ll make it easier for them to eat vegan, even when their friends aren’t!
Make a Mental Note of How You Feel After You Eat (and have your kids do the same)
If you start to connect with your body and learn how you feel when you eat 100% whole food plant based (or vegan) versus when you don’t; it’ll make it a lot easier to eat better under peer pressure.
So, make sure your kids do this, as well.
You could either make a mental note of it, or get a journal and start actually recording what you eat and how you feel; you may just be amazed!
And, you don’t have to wait til your kids are old enough to write to help them connect what they eat to how they feel.
For example, if they complain of a belly ache after eating something non-vegan if still transitioning, or simply something that isn’t that healthy (like sugar); ask them what they just ate and ask them if that may be the reason they don’t feel good.
Kids are smart, sometimes they just need a little help connecting the dots. But, when they start to learn how horrible they feel after making poor food choices, they may just stop making them.
They can be stronger than peer pressure when it comes to food choices; sometimes it may just take them learning of the consequences of unhealthy eating first.
Understanding how your body feels after eating junk (or non-vegan foods like dairy) will help you ignore what others eat and eat right for you.
Encourage your kids to teach their friends what it means to be vegan
If you teach your kids about being vegan, or have them learn about it on their own, then they may be so inspired by the benefits that they’ll want to teach their friends about it, too.
If you happen to teach your kids and encourage them to teach their friends about it, then it may even go further, at least with young kids.
Stay positive and share with others ‘Why Vegan’
Staying positive and informative when others are questioning why you’re vegan can be difficult, especially if the other people are being rude about it.
‘Where do you get your protein?”
“Don’t you miss eating meat?”
“So, how long are you going to be doing that vegan thing?”
“You can’t force your kids to be vegan, that’s cruel!”
These are things non-vegans may say to us, I hope they don’t, but it’s a possibility, especially from critical family members or friends.
Unfortunately, they may be taking out the anger they have inside themselves on us because “they could never go vegan” and we have.
I’m hoping that the fact that climate change is real, animals are cruelly raised, abused, and murdered, high cholesterol and chronic diseases most often result from a diet with animal products, and other truths that the food industry doesn’t want us to know; I’m hoping those truths are starting to become common sense for most people.
Even if they aren’t common sense, people know deep down that the vegan cause is a just cause and worthy, yet it’s difficult for some people to give up the way they’ve lived and the way they’ve eaten all their lives.
Raise Your Child’s Self-Esteem
Sometimes others can be rude about the way you eat, other kids might tease your child.
But, helping your child build a strong self-esteem and confidence in what they eat, will go a long way with your child making good food choices.
Even when you’re not there to help them decide!
And, let your child know that some kids may tease them or not understand why they are eating vegan.
Let them know that other children may not know about nutrition or the reasons why being vegan is so important. So if others try to make fun of them, or ask them about the food they eat, it’s probably because they don’t know.
Knowledge is Power, and Knowledge Will Help Your Child Eat Vegan In the Face of Peer Pressure
If you’re raising your kids vegan, or trying to, and you’ve taught them well, then they’ll be able to handle the peer pressure when it comes their way.
If they don’t want to feel bad from the food they eat, then they’ll be sure to keep to their healthy vegan food and stay away from the cheese made from cows milk, or dairy ice cream.
They can do this, and so can you!
Plus, if all else fails, there are now vegan convenience foods popping up all over the place now; from plant based vegan burgers to vegan cheese, non-dairy ice cream and more!!
Didn’t start from the beginning? Start Here!