Veganizing children’s songs

February 23, 2010

This week on SpawnBetter we thought we’d lighten things up a bit and maybe sing a song or two. But what songs? If you’re singing with kids, it just takes one stray reference to Old MacDonald and you could be hit with a ton of questions about what those farm animals are doing there, exactly.

I posed this one to the Council of Vegan Parents:

“What do you do to veganize childrens songs? Or do you at all? For some reason “on top of spaghetti” was in my head this weekend, and I couldn’t think of a good substitute for that poor meatball. Have you revised any popular children’s songs? Does Old MacDonald run a sanctuary? Or have you selected a repertoire of songs that don’t mention farming and animal products? And hey, if this is the first time this idea’s come up, feel free to improvise!”

And answer they did.

Avoiding the issue altogether

As Kristie points out, “with so many songs out there, it’s not too hard to avoid the not so animal-friendly ones,” and Elaine will just make up words on the spot, even if they don’t make sense, should the need arise. Elaine also dips into the wide repertoire of non-children’s songs that are out there.

Depending on the vocabulary you use in your home, it might not be a problem anyway. I have many friends who refer to Earth Balance as “butter,” soy milk as “milk,” etc. Julie’s family is in that camp too, although she’s pretty sure her son has decided that it’s a soy meatball on top of the spaghetti.

This little piggy got noticed

OK, I don’t know how it happened, but I forgot all about “This Little Piggy” when I sent the question out. This proves a genetic abnormality, because it was pretty much the first song that everyone mentioned, what with the roast beef reference and all.

While tofu was the clear winner for substitutions, other alternatives included “this little piggy had popcorn” and “field roast” from Pippi, while Monica and Julie will just use whatever food their children have eaten recently.

Saying bah to wool

Al submitted his variant on a non-food related yet still vegan sensitive classic:

Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
No sir, No sir,
None for you.

None for the master,
None for the dame,
None for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.

Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
No sir, no sir,
None for you.

I lost my poor wheat ball…

I now have it on good authority that wheat balls and neat balls can roll off of a plate of spaghetti like nobody’s business, and soy cheese is a perfect cover.

Old MacDonald gets a pass

Most of our parents left poor Old MacDonald alone, figuring that he either runs a sanctuary or just has a lot of animal friends, but Al took it one step further, and I can’t think of a more fun way to close out a fun topic like this:

A huge thank you to Pippi, Monica, Al, Doh, Julie, Kristie, and Elaine for their help with this one!

What about you? Have you veganized any classics on the fly? What’s the funniest one? Let us know in the comments!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

shana1234 February 25, 2010 at 4:58 am

I always sing “this little piggy had eggplant” because that was a suggestion in a baby book of games to play with kids (from the 80's!) It even says “for a vegetarian version sing “eggplant”. πŸ™‚

jasondoucette February 25, 2010 at 5:25 am

Very cool. It's amazing how many books we have in our home simply because of one stray reference like that which makes it too awesome to get rid of!

bitt February 28, 2010 at 10:43 pm

great topic! i was doing a project as a teacher where a little baby had to come in. her parents wanted us to do the “and this little piggy eats tofu”.

there are so many subtle ways that cruelty to animals is reinforced. thanks for bringing it out of the subconscious.

Unsheeply March 1, 2010 at 10:55 am

We too use whatever our son has eaten recently for what the little piggies eat. And sometimes, but not always, we say This little piggy went to the farmer's market.

And as for Old McDonald, we just changed it to “on that farm there lived a cow…” showing that he doesn't have ownership over the animals. Just a subtle way to reinforce animals are not ours to do with as we like. πŸ™‚

jasondoucette March 1, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Heh, one thing I need to add to this topic: plan ahead! I tried translating on the fly while reading “Oh Baby the Places You'll Go” to Angela's belly last night and I missed on Green Eggs and Ham (half marks for “tofu scramble and ham-no wait!”) and had a long pause trying to change “feast of roast beast” while maintaining the rhyme (I can't even remember what I used, but it wasn't pretty…)

Unsheeply March 1, 2010 at 6:55 pm

We too use whatever our son has eaten recently for what the little piggies eat. And sometimes, but not always, we say This little piggy went to the farmer's market.

And as for Old McDonald, we just changed it to “on that farm there lived a cow…” showing that he doesn't have ownership over the animals. Just a subtle way to reinforce animals are not ours to do with as we like. πŸ™‚

jasondoucette March 1, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Heh, one thing I need to add to this topic: plan ahead! I tried translating on the fly while reading “Oh Baby the Places You'll Go” to Angela's belly last night and I missed on Green Eggs and Ham (half marks for “tofu scramble and ham-no wait!”) and had a long pause trying to change “feast of roast beast” while maintaining the rhyme (I can't even remember what I used, but it wasn't pretty…)

Kelly August 23, 2010 at 5:56 pm

I’m into lullabies right now… it’s amazing, they actually work! Here’s one that I had never heard of before, but it’s on a cd that was given to me. This vegan version is dedicated to Sea Shepherd.

Dance to your Daddy

Dance to your Daddy (or Mommy)
My little baby
Dance to your Daddy
My little man (or girl)

You can save a fishie
You can save a fin
You can save a shark
When the boat goes out

Dance to your Daddy
My little laddie (or lassie)
Dance to your Daddy
My little man

You can save a fishie
From a little dishie
You can save a shark
When the boat goes out

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