Pippi sent in some of her stories about her six year old’s adventures with vegan birthday parties, as part of our ongoing series – there are so many great emails coming in from our Council of Vegan Parents, thanks so much!
Here’s what Pippi had to say:
“The short answer is that I have always been honest about what ingredients are in ‘those’ foods (e.g. cakes, goldfish, candies, etc etc) & ultimately, it’s up to her as to whether or not she wants it or not. But with enough notice, I will make sure she has similar items to bring with her to gatherings with peers. Ans she is more than happy with that arrangement. There have been a couple occasions with no notice & although she was disappointed that she didn’t have an alternative to partake in at the same time as every one else, she still did not want the non-vegan version. (I was so proud!)
“Yes, I do talk to parents ahead of time just to let them know that we are vegan and will be bringing our own items. I will find out what they are having and try to match as close as possible. On occasion we offer to bring the cupcakes or cake & many parents have taken me up on this offer. Some of the parents have started asking me to make the cakes or cupcakes as well as ask me for recipes so that they have veg items available. It’s much easier to be around people who know us.
“I can’t say that we have had any disasters, and I feel very lucky about this. As long as I bring along enough snack foods & complimentary celebratory items, she is just happiest to be around friends.
“Hope this helps. I think that just being honest (as you can with a small child without scarring them & giving them nightmares -I’m not suggesting anyone to make their child watch Earthlings! The “yuck” factor goes a long way with youngin’s) and offering exciting alternatives and being consistent is key.”
Thanks Pippi! There are lots of gems in here, but let’s see if we can highlight a few:
Be honest. As your child gets older, he or she is going to get exposed to a lot more influences and either through increased autonomy or simple distance, is going to have opportunities to make choices about foods without your direct involvement. By explaining as best you can what’s in some foods and why you don’t eat them, that’s as good a way as I can think of for preparing your child.
As Pippi said, you need to pick the tone of your message carefully – an Earthlings or Meet Your Meat experience might be a bit over the top, but “ewww, gross” makes a lot more sense.
Talk to parents ahead of time. Yes, we’ve covered this already in other posts, like Julie or Amy’s stories, but this might be your first visit, so it’s worth repeating. By communicating with the hosts ahead of time, offering to bring alternatives (or the whole cake!) and trying to make the “special” food match what everyone else is having as much as possible, you and your child will have a much better experience.
Have you tried to explain to a young child why you don’t eat, say, cheese? How’d that go? Let us know in the comments!