A really good friend of mine is an omnivore. Which is usually not a problem.... except when she has my kids over for dinner and cooks crabs. Or her husband is in the kitchen chopping up Bambi. Or when she brings non-vegan food to my house to feed her kids.
Maybe these things aren't really a big deal. The kids have to learn to live in a non-veg world, right? But we do have one long standing disagreement on the issue. And the question I struggle to answer is, "if your kids have friends over, do you require them to eat vegan?"
This isn't an issue when we have simple play dates / sleepovers at the house. I make some kick ass veg kid food, and really I don't think they even know the difference. Especially the older boys; I think they inhale it so fast that they could be eating car tires and would still grub it down!! The issue really comes up when we are away from home. What if we go out to dinner? To the park? For an ice cream?
To be clear, I'm not trying to dictate what someone else's child should eat, or brainwash them with our vegan ways (though this is often the outcome of hanging out with my kids! More on that in another post). If their parents are with us, I could really care less what they eat. But when they are in my care, I find that I have a really hard time purchasing meat and dairy for them. I don't support the consumption or use of animals for human pleasure, and I do believe it's unhealthy. And I firmly believe that we vote with our dollar; that each time we spend money, we are making a choice as to what we are telling marketers we want. So, if we go to Baskin-Robbins and order sorbet, and make sure to ask if they have vegan options every time we patronize, we are showing with our cash that we want these options to remain and increase. If I spend money on dairy/meat, regardless of who is actually consuming it, I am supporting that industry. And I have a hell of a time justifying that for some kid who wants a flippin' chicken taco.
Then we get into the issue of how my kids respond to it. They HATE eating with people who are eating meat and/or dairy. They know where it comes from, how it impacts the animal, their bodies, and environment, and they won't have any part of it (they are awesome little advocates). Now my daughter will remain quiet, but my son will launch into a "what is wrong with you don't you realize that your sandwich is DEAD?!?!" spiel. I support this, but also support free choice and discretion. So what's a Vegan Mom to do??
The first time this came up, it was a freaking disaster. We had an impromptu walk to the local Baskin-Robins. They were out of sorbet, and there was nothing for my kids to have. Of course, the other kiddos were drooling over the 31 flavors of cow breast milk! I didn't know what to do. I explained to the kids that we don't eat certain foods (this was pretty easy since they were all classmates and know about the vegan thing). I explained that I would appreciate it if they would not get the ice cream out of respect. And when this didn't work, I flat out told them NO and took them across the street to the store to buy some Tofutti Cuties. Yeah..... it was mean. And no one was happy.
So now I make sure to be prepared, and this include preparing my kids. We talk a lot about tolerance. If we're going out to dinner, I have to put my personal agenda and feelings about the issue aside. Yeah, it sucks and I am compromising my ideals, but sometimes you have to be a little flexible. THIS TOOK A LOT OF TIME. I still have a hard time with it, but it's the only way I could see to make it work and still do a normal thing like going to dinner. Plus, it's a great way to show people - especially kids - that being vegan IS normal!! I tell parents not to worry about bringing snacks over, or food for the meal (even so, I think I have 2 frozen Kid Cuisines in my freezer right now.... some people really just don't get it). And I just explain to my kids that all we can do is set a good example for others, introduce them to veganism, and hope it makes them think a little more about what they are eating.
And thanks for the shout-out Colleen!And I second all Tami said about her! And wanted to add that, if you don't already own "The Joy of Vegan Baking", you need to! It's my fail-safe go to recipe book. It's awesome!