Kansas summers are bright and warm, and with it brings fresh local produce from food destinations like farmers markets and fruit picking with our vegan kids. If you would have told me a year ago these types of events could completely source the food for our meals, I wouldn’t have believed you. We were already healthy and ate balanced and organic when possible.
I respected choices of others to be vegan, but it was not for us.
Just when I thought I had it all figured out, I was introduced to a documentary about food that gave rise to further research a vegan lifestyle. My husband and I easily understood the health benefits. We also found unexpected information on the process of farm to fork in regards to environmental strain and animal welfare. This new found knowledge forced us to confront our perspective on food. Our mindset changed and gave rise to a deep conviction that we must modify our choices. But how?
Is it practical for a working mom to manage a functioning home with enjoyable plant-based food, that encourages better health, and reduces our carbon footprint?
When my husband and I decided on a vegan diet for a long term lifestyle, we discussed if we were going to raise the kids vegan as well. We understood the nutritional needs and differences of children who are vegans compared to adults. The solution to these needs are very straightforward with the right balance of food and supplements.
We talked to our children about the health benefits as well as the environmental issues. We discussed the process of farming plants and how they come to us, the importance of seasonal and local. And more than that, we addressed what happens to animals when we use them for food.
Our children have never been upset about the change. They understand that they need to make good choices regarding their health. They are also are aware they are making a positive changes for our world. Our journey has opened up communication between us and our children on bigger issues that relate to their future, their health, compassion, and self-love.
If my kids automatically loved raw vegetables, life would be much easier. They often request cashew queso, fresh fruit, and my youngest likes cooked zucchini noodles and sauce. However, with a kid-approved dressing, they will eat green salad. It still surprises me to watch my 3 year old digging into a salad. It became very obvious to us that our new lifestyle is likely healthier than the diet we had before and both grew up on.
This is still a process for us, and we have our occasional non-vegan moments with food and the culture of it (I just cant give up my vintage fur coat), but I’m not losing sleep over the details right now.
Being vegan is becoming increasingly mainstream as more and more people are making the change. But if you are considering this journey for your family, do your research. Find a holistically minded health practitioner who can offer suggestions and advice on issues you may overlook. Deeply consider if the benefits outweigh the challenges and if it fits with your family’s lifestyle.
As we wander through the farmers market these warm summer mornings, my kids pick out fresh, gorgeous, local-grown produce. We do our best to help them understand how important this food is to sustain and enhance our lives.
Their food has a story and it becomes part of our story, too.
If you decide to make this change, there is valuable gain from simplifying your diet. For us, it has supported a lifestyle of enjoying food with different intent. Being vegan has given our children a better understanding of their role in the global village.
And that is the most rewarding benefit yet.