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 Post subject: daycare and non-vegan foods (also, books for kids)
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:32 am 
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Bathes in Braggs
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so, i know for a fact this topic has been brought up before, but surprisingly, searching vegan books and kids didn't really turn up what i was looking for.

anyway, T is 3 and has been attending her daycare for 2 years. the vegan thing has always been a struggle. there is quite a language barrier between me and her care providers, also, a cultural barrier to vegetarianism in general (french, traditional middle eastern, "oh, you don't eat meat? that's ok, here's some chicken"). it's been frustrating, but she gets really excellent care there and it can't be beat for affordability and location. i assumed i would probably run into similar issues with all the day cares in my area. however, i take in her soy milk, and so far they haven't been feeding her meat.

so L is going to be starting soon, so the director and i were talking in our broken way about it, and i said i wanted to send L's food. the director said, "oh no, we'll provide the food! vegetarian, like for T." then, in the next breath, she says, "oh, by the way, can we give T cheese? she's been crying for it when we serve the other kids." argh. so i said yes. i am really sad about the idea of her crying for food her friends are being served, and i know they don't necessarily have good alternatives provided for her anyway. she kept telling me she cries when the other kids are served meat too.

i was talking to T about it, and in typical beastly 3 year old style, she announced she LOVES to eat poulet et viande. mmm, it's SO GOOD. also, poisson is FOOD, mommy, mmmm. so, yeah. i don't think the vegan thing is going to work at our particular daycare unless it's also coming from her, at least a little. i need to be better at talking to her about it. and i think we need to read some books too.


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 Post subject: Re: daycare and non-vegan foods (also, books for kids)
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:34 am 
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Drunk Dialed Ian MacKaye
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littlebird wrote:
i was talking to T about it, and in typical beastly 3 year old style, she announced she LOVES to eat poulet et viande. mmm, it's SO GOOD. also, poisson is FOOD, mommy, mmmm. so, yeah. i don't think the vegan thing is going to work at our particular daycare unless it's also coming from her, at least a little. i need to be better at talking to her about it. and i think we need to read some books too.

Ugh, that sounds like a really tricky situation.

My kids went through a phase where they said they like to eat eggs and cheese and fish fingers and ham sandwiches after seeing shows about them on TV. It was really frustrating. I feel like at some point, I'm just going to haze them and show them videos of what really goes on. I have explained the whole dead-animals-thing and how chickens are mistreated and such and they kind of get it -- I think what they don't get is why anyone would kill or mistreat an animal on purpose so they have trouble believing that's really what's going on. Usually, though, I just tell them that no, we don't eat that stuff because it's not vegan.

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 Post subject: Re: daycare and non-vegan foods (also, books for kids)
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:02 am 
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Semen Strong
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Location: Cliffbar NJ
I am really interested in this topic, and I look forward to reading people's responses! L is just 19 months, but here are my thoughts.

Crabby, have you tried Vegan is Love? http://www.amazon.com/Vegan-Is-Love-Hav ... 1583943544 It might be a bit upsetting for small children, but it definitely presents the reasons why we shouldn't eat animals. Its from 7 to 10 bc of the subject matter, but it would be better than showing them the videos, which honestly I think might be too upsetting.

I like your comment LB, that you want the veganism to come from her own agency. I feel like veganism is an ethical choice, so I make the ethical choices for her as far as I can, but she also has to explore her own ability to make choices, and that means equipping her with information and then letting her practice. I think part of the challenge is to balance the information, not to overwhelm them in the other direction. We have a vegan friend, whose 5 year old had the hardest time in school, because he was constantly trying to explain to the other kids why eating meat and going to zoos was wrong. He would get very worked up, the other kids would make fun of him, and at the end his parents decided it made more sense to homeschool him for a bit. I want L to be able to make her own choices, but not get caught up in feeling like she needs to educate or make other kids understand why they need to be vegan too, which I think would be hard on her and somewhat isolating. At our parent's group, someone was talking about a veg friend's 10 year old (who is veg from birth) having a sleep-over and telling them (who are NV) that they were bad people for eating chickens. The parents had to then have the conversation that we make the choices we make, but its not on us to make other people feel bad for theirs. I don't really know how you balance those pieces - encouraging your child to make informed choices but not isolating herself.

Another friend has had her teen be veg from birth, by encouraging her daughter's sense of agency, like you talk about. She said that she made a point of taking her daughter to farm sanctuaries to put a face to the animals, and also of making delicious food for her, and she also said she made it clear that it was her daughter's choice at the end of the day - so if her daughter wanted to eat a NV cupcake or pizza with friends, it wasn't a big deal. She seems to be very social and well-liked - she is vegan but has tons of NV friends and family and I admire that ability to socialize in those spaces. I was super social as a toddler but ended up being very socially isolated in school, and it was hard on me, so I guess that is why I worry about L.

I kind of like that approach, so we go to visit the sanctuary near us, we pet animals, we read lots of books about animals and we go out of our way to visit the animals and talk about them and their mommies and daddies etc and how we want to be gentle with them because they are friends. But whenever we are at a playdate and kids are sharing snacks, I just let L eat whatever they are sharing. Weirdly enough she will always turn down cheese and meats, except for cheese pizza, which she'll house. I try and bring our own snacks for her and offer those instead, but if she really wants that snack, I don't want her to grow up thinking that she isn't free to make her own choices and have us be positional about that.

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 Post subject: Re: daycare and non-vegan foods (also, books for kids)
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:45 pm 
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The Real Hamburger Helper
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I find these issues so overwhelming at times...my approach is not to try and think ahead too much and make decisions as they are needed. I don't know how we will handle veganism vs. being left out, access to information vs. not understanding why others make different choices, etc. It also doesn't help that our extended families just assume all of this will blow up in our face soon.

So far, we went to two NV birthday parties and I decided not to stop her from joining in on vegetarian stuff, but it was a non-issue both times. The first one she didn't even notice the cake and ate red pepper slices that were out for the adults. The second one, she was served a cupcake that she ignored and only ate pretzels. I know it will get more complicated. I too am curious how others have handled this time when they are too young to make informed choices.


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 Post subject: Re: daycare and non-vegan foods (also, books for kids)
PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 8:05 am 
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Invented Vegan Meringue
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What it really comes down to is what you are comfortable with. I'm pretty hardfast, so I am the same way with the kids. I just say "That kind isn't for us, it isn't vegan, but we can have this or this". I come prepared to everything. I keep baked/frosted cupcakes in the fridge and throw one in a cupacake holder for little things or bake something big to share. I've never used daycare, but for school when Shae was small, I would keep a box of something in his class for unexpected parties and I'd talk to the teacher as much as I could about activities and parties. I packed his lunch everyday. I would bring in vegan substitutes for things, and I always offered to bake the class cupcakes or cookies so that he could join in normally.

I don't like the idea of showing the videos to kids. Shae still hasn't watched them and he's 14. We avoid all violence though, really, so it's all up to what you are comfortable with. As for teaching the kids, I think just talking about things all the time goes a really long way. Shae was easy because he understand things really young and made up his mind himself. I thought it would be really difficult with Silas because his comprehension skills didn't mature till a lot later, but somehow it all worked out easily. I just give as much info as he needed/wanted at the time and moved on. Just like with anything else we teach him really. Why don't we eat real chicken? Because real chickens are cute and they have to get killed for people to eat them and I don't think that's very nice, so let's eat this vegan kind instead because it's yummy and doesn't hurt anyone, okay?

I know it's a pain to teach your kid to be vegan, especially if you live in a non progressive area (like I do!), but I also think we all tend to make it a bigger deal than it has to be. Something I've always talked to Shae about is in each group of people there are usually the people with allergies and the picky eaters, so you are not alone. Your reasons are different, but who cares? If you don't care, other people won't care as much.

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 Post subject: Re: daycare and non-vegan foods (also, books for kids)
PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 8:06 am 
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Invented Vegan Meringue
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Oh, and did I tell you guys yet that I'm working on a Vegan Kids zine? I've always wished there was one, so I decided to just do it.

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 Post subject: Re: daycare and non-vegan foods (also, books for kids)
PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:40 pm 
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Because Bob Barker Told Me To
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Littlebird, do you have a local vegan community you're involved with, to balance out some of the influence from daycare? It's isolating if they're in daycare all day and don't ever interact with other vegan families. My group (Northwest VEG) started a "Vegan Families" group through Meetup, with lots of weekend activities. You might see if there's enough interest in your area to get something like that going. Here's a link to give you an idea of what's possible: http://www.meetup.com/vegan-family/

Also - from what you're saying, your daycare doesn't appear to respect, or maybe even understand, your lifestyle. It wouldn't hurt to send lunch/snacks for both of your kids; that ensures they have an option, even if they decide to eat non-veg food.

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 Post subject: Re: daycare and non-vegan foods (also, books for kids)
PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 10:36 am 
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Not NOT A Furry
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I took more of Kelly's approach. We told our kids that things weren't vegan
and would offer up one of many choices that we had in our bag. Henry didn't have "trouble"
with eating different until the later years of elementary school. There was less
communication happening with the teachers , so I wasn't able
to prepare for special parties at school. So Henry would eat NV items.
And now that he is in middle school, it worked best for him
to make his own choices when with friends. He is vegan with us and vegetarian
with his friends. (It's mainly sweets that he is after other things
he doesn't seem to touch.)

I also didn't show him any videos about animals and how they
are used for meat/dairy/etc. I don't want to watch those videos. Too
traumatic. I just think it is too much for a child.

Lily is five and won't eat anything unless she sees the "V" on the package
or that we tell her it's okay. Her preschool was amazing at communicating with us about
cooking activities. And we always had a stash of snacks at her school for her
to dig into.

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