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Being Vegan :  A 1st Grader's Dilemma
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Being Vegan : A 1st Grader's Dilemma

My son was 6 when my husband and I decided to begin a vegan diet, and he responded to our decision with a devout dedication to meat eating. "I'm a carnivore!" he proclaimed! "I'm not like you guys!" In reality, he rarely ate meat, opting for the occasional hotdog or pepperoni pizza slice, but not even considering the breaded chicken nuggets all kids seem to adore.

Cheese, however, was another story. The boy, like his mama before him, was in love with cheese. And let's face it, the vegan cheeses, although sometimes working fabulously within recipes, are not so great for snacking when plain.

I spoke with my son calmly about my beliefs. I told him that I did love cheese, but that it upset me that calves were taken away from their mommies to be turned into future milkers or veal. I told him that I nursed him when he was a baby, and that the thought of someone taking him away from me and hooking me up to machines to steal my milk was very upsetting to me. I said it matter of factly, and while I acknowledged the deliciousness of cheese, I lauded the myriad of snack alternatives.

So, my husband and I were faced with a dilemma. Did we forbid our son from eating animal products, or did we honor his food choices? Children can be very empathetic, and my son was, but I didn't want to force him into a lifestyle completely different from that of most everyone he knew. I wanted to be an example and allow him to make his own decisions. Also, it is not to be ignored that forcing someone, especially a bright and fairly stubborn 6 year old, into a situation, can often backfire.

My husband and I chose to make the food in our home vegan. All of the meals made and served in our home would be the bulk of my son's diet, and we also sent him to school with a packed vegan lunch and snacks. The compromise comes in with playdates and parties. At a friend's house, we let our son know that he may eat whatever is served. It's interesting because we've found that other families are pretty flexible and supportive and usually willing to serve our son vegan food. We have the support of some pretty great people. We want him to have a choice though, and quite often he chooses a meat free option.

The cheese, however, is a different story :-)

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  1. Veganara
    Veganara
    Vote no 6. It sounds like you are doing a great job with your son, I hope he becomes vegan eventually! We have some really good vegan cheeses in Britain now, so I for one don't find giving up traditional dairy cheese a problem any more.
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  2. aliceb
    aliceb
    You know, I still try every vegan cheese I find, even after all the disappointments. Maybe it's time to mail order some!
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  3. Veganara
    Veganara
    You don't like Daiya then? I haven't tried that but people rave about it! Can you get Vegusto in the US? That is amazing, the best one I have tried (expensive though). I believe it is a relatively new one.
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  4. pentamom
    pentamom
    Voted #7! This is a Great Blog that I can TOTALLY relate to! I have 5 boys 10, 8, 6, 4 and 3. When I went vegetarian back in May, I decided to make the whole family vegetarian. I also have a stubborn 6 year old...more than you know....oddly enough he HATES cheese, LOL! (I'll be blogging about that soon), but I found that they all hated being vegetarian because my husband says I forced them all to do it. (I admit I did~but how are you suppose to make change, unless you change it??) So I said, forget it, I let them all eat meat and I went on my vegetarian/vegan journey.....alone..... Well, one day I was watching a PETA video on animal cruelty and the kids happened to come in my office. Their little faces were GLUED to the 15 minute movie of animals being inhumanely killed and abused. Well, my boys were crying at the end of the movie and all of a sudden I had 2 devout vegetarians~my 8 and 6 year olds. (6 year old is a pecatarian-eats fish, 8 year old lacto-ovo.) But that movie was all it took. Now I since have another pecatarian~my 10 year old. The point is that they made the decisions themselves and they are happy that the decision was theirs..... I guess when you force them that's when they rebel. LOL!! Like my husband says, it's easier to do when they are babies, certainly harder when they are little kids with opinions. Good Luck! I just came back from Holland, where the cheese is amazing...yes, I fell into my cheese demon also! LOL!!
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