This week’s question came from Council member Kim, who asked:
“How do other families talk about vegan choices when other children are over and curious. (For example, a little friend asking “Why don’t you eat bacon? It’s yummy!)”
Without further ado, here’s what some other members of the Council of Vegan Parents had to say:
Be assertive, consistent – and prepared
“Think about things beforehand,” says Steph: “I have found myself kicking myself for using wishy-washy rhetoric when people are interested in our veganism and I wish I had said something more positive and assertive at the time.”
This advice holds true in pretty much all scenarios, really, but it’s especially useful with children, where things tend to be more on the black and white side without so many shades of grey. That said the part about being positive is a big deal too: “because we’re not murderers like your parents are” is probably not the best approach 🙂
As Steph notes, “thinking through the scenarios will make sure these things don’t happen again,” and there’s a lot to be said for preparation. If you have a few spare moments to go through some imaginary conversations (hey, they’re not just for toddlers!) you’ll find yourself better equipped for simple “why” questions if they come up.
Be honest without being gruesome
Elaine takes an honest yet age-appropriate approach to questions from nonvegan children. For a pre-teen she knows, she’ll offer vegan food when he visits, and if he has questions, she’ll answer them. For very young children, Elaine opts for a simple “I don’t eat that,” and while she’ll still answer questions, she’s quicker to change the subject. And for those in between, here’s a recent example that I think is pretty cool:
“…on a drive to the park on day we saw a truck filled with pigs. I
told the kids that seeing big metal trucks like those, with the holes
in the sides, made me sad. The kids asked why. I explained that the
pigs were probably being hauled off to slaughter to become pork, ham,
“More questions came: How far do they take them? Do they get food along
the way? Do they get hot or cold in the truck? Do they know what’s
happening? What should the driver do instead if everyone stopped
eating pork, ham, and bacon?
“I answered each one as honestly as I could. The pigs travel from all
over the place so some pigs travel short distances and other travel
for days. No, they do not usually have any food or water while they
travel because that would make it too messy in the truck. Yes,
sometimes it gets too hot or too cold and sometimes the pigs will get
sick or die during the trip. They don’t know exactly what’s happening,
but they’re probably scared. Wouldn’t you be scared if you were in
that truck? The driver should haul vegan food or… well what do you
want to do when you grow up? Maybe the driver should do that!”
Focus on things in common
Julie’s family tries to shift the conversation away from “why don’t you eat that” to a discussion of things that they do eat that kids also like, which shifts the emphasis over to things that they have in common. I like this idea a lot, and have you noticed that discussions with children have a lot of good strategies that work well with adults? Funny, that.
Dealing with other parents
What about when a child goes home and tells his or her parents what was said? Are there issues that need to be dealt with there?
Interestingly, none of our Council respondents have had any problems here. I think it has a lot to do with the approaches they’ve taken, as detailed here: be be consistent, be honest, don’t be gruesome, and focus on things that you have in common and you’re a lot less likely to have to deal with the “my kid says you called us Bambi killers!” confrontation.
Of course, that could just be a factor of our sample size. Have you had any incidents explaining veganism to nonvegan children, either with them or their parents? Let us know in the comments!
Thanks to Kim, Steph, Elaine, and Julie for their help with this one!
(Photo by mil8)