A starter’s guide…
Step 1: Put vegan food in the fridge and on the table. There are vegan alternatives to almost every non-vegan food around these days… and more! Branch out into new foods… maybe even branches? Haha!… Shut up.
Step 2: Consume the vegan food! Get some vegan cookbooks (or raw uncookbooks but start easy, remember) if you want to learn new and exciting ways to mix foods together before you shove it in your gaping maw. There are YouTube vids and blogs with recipes as well, but results may vary… At least with cookbooks you know the recipes have been tested and adjusted and tweaked to something closer to perfection by several different people… plus supporting vegan authors is a totally rad thing to do!
Step 3: Make all other household consumables vegan: clothes, kitchen, bathroom, everything you can find or think of. When you go out to consume, aim for vegan eateries and other vegan-friendly stores and environments. Happy Cow is a good directory to start with.
Step 4: Meet other vegans via Facebook groups, Twitter, vegan forums, and meetup.com. Networking with local vegans will get you sorted faster than anything else! But remember to check with reputable sources (see steps 6 & 8).
Step 5: Use every available opportunity to discuss why exploiting our fellow Earthlings is unkind and unnecessary, and how “everything you can do, I can do vegan!” There are vegan twinkie recipes now, for crissakes. I don’t even know what a twinkie is, having been raised in Australia… There’s also vegan meringue for our pavlovas, made of the tasteless broth that comes from cooking legumes! It’s called aquafaba. How amazing is that? Pretty darn amazing, and a darn sight more appetising than the unfertilised fluid waste from a hen’s menstrual cycle… maybe. I don’t know. Haha. Um. Blergh… In my day all we had was rice and beans and frozen peas, maybe an old wrinkled apple for dessert, and we threw away the cooking water… Aquafaba? What the hey? Get off my lawn with your new-fangled, amazing, vegan junk food, you guyse!
Step 6: Read all of Ruby Roth’s books with your kids, and as they get older, they can watch animal rights-themed documentaries, surf the vegan web and chat to other vegans on fora and at meet-ups, and read books… Especially read books. For the most part, the real meat* of the matter is to be found in carefully arranged and edited printed words.
*note definitions 2 through 4. Vegan meat is real! Or unreal, if you prefer… 😉
A good place to start for older kids is Generation V: The Complete Guide to Going, Being, and Staying Vegan as a Teenager by Claire Askew… but for more advanced readers and for us parents: Vegan For Life and How Not To Die for all your staying-healthy info, Thrive books by Brendan Brazier for the very sporty, Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or The Dog? (spoiler alert: false dichotomy!), Vegan Freaks: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World, Animal Liberation by good old Pete for some good old school utilitarianism… and as many vegan recipe books as you can fit on your bookshelves! (Any book suggestions for kids? Please drop me a line.)
Step 7: Set a good example. Be decent to animals and to other people. Human beings are animals, too! Just as animals are people, too. Bullying others into going vegan or into following your particular brand of vegan lifestyle… doesn’t sound like a very vegan thing to do, now, does it? Vegan is not a brand. Basic decency/a moral baseline is not something you can package up and sell.
Step 8: Ask experienced vegan parents for helps with areas you struggle with – we all have our moments. Read their blogs and books. There are no stupid questions… but there are a few stupid answers out there! Check your sources are reliable, logical, ethical, scientific, and not trying to sell you an ongoing lifetime subscription to utter nonsense…! Use and compare multiple sources. Don’t accept anyone as a divine ultimate source. Vegan gurus are always inevitably more guru than vegan. Don’t put all your veggies in one basket.
Also consult vegan and doctors or read their blogs/books – but those who deal with healthy patients and children as well, not just people who help folks recover from a history of chronic disease – the prescription might be a little different! The Vegan RD and Jack Norris RD and nutritionfacts.org are good places to start with that. Luckily there is loads of room to move, health-wise, within the plant-based and vegan paradigms, with thousands of edible plants/phytonutrients in the world and infinite combinations…
Keep in mind veganism is an ethical stance against the use and abuse – the exploitation – of sentient beings. Follow some ethicist and philosopher folks as well. You want to keep the ethical conversation alive and fresh in your mind and in your life and in the lives of your children. Don’t confuse the vegan message with a healthful eating message, thereby confusing your children. It’s easy enough to keep kids healthy, but raising them to consider the health of others is equally important in this world we all have to share.
Stay tuned for more serious parenting posts on my main blog and also my upcoming new blog collaboration with vegan parents… details to come!