When your children don’t want to make the transition to plant- based eating
I know your struggle, and I hope these techniques will work as well for you as they did for my family.
A few things that helped my son, who was 2 years old when we made the switch to a vegan lifestyle, were information, getting to help with meal preparation and finding new favorite foods.
1. Information – This is a hard one with small children. Every child is different and discretion is advised. Some children can handle the gory details and others not. The best book we have read is “V is for Vegan” by Ruby Roth. Not only are the illustrations adorable, and appreciated by young kids, but the information is kept simple and understandable for the little ones. Each page is a chance for a discussion, and a chance for you to explain a little more in depth if they show interest and you would like to delve in a little more. “That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals,” also by Ruby Roth, is a great book as well, although it’s better suited for an older child. My 4 year old and I read it together and we talk about each page, but he has just started to be able to process the images and the implications behind them.
Finding gentle ways to bring light to tough subjects can be difficult, but luckily, there are plenty of good books for little vegans to help us put it all into words. Kids naturally have such big hearts and they inherently do not want to cause others harm. If they know where their food is coming from, chances are they won’t want to eat those foods anymore.
2. When my son was able to start helping me cook, he became more willing to try new foods. We enjoy making things such as avocado pudding, oat and banana pancakes, or peanut butter on rice crackers with banana faces. When we were able to include him, it made food fun to create and even more fun to eat!
Finding a few vegan alternatives to their old favorites is a good way to start their transition. Maybe they’d be willing to try a veggie burger with sweet potato fries instead of the usual hamburger. With the wide variety of ready- made burgers available, you’re sure to find something they like eating. Or, get a little creative and make a dip platter for fruits and veggies and let them explore the new flavors and textures at their own speed.
3. Find new favorites. This can be a bit of a trial and error experiment. I can admit that I had to finish quite a few of my kids’ dinners the first few months of our transition ( as not to waste the unappreciated food that was left on their plates). My children’s favorite foods were not at all what I thought they would be. My eldest likes avocados and lettuce, while my youngest really enjoys olives, sauerkraut and broccoli. Who would’ve thought?!
You could ask their opinion at the store, let them pick out new things they want to try, or let them choose a new fruit or veggie they’re willing to try each week. Soon enough, you will know how to spice up meals with their new found favorites.
I hope these tips give you somewhere to start. Before you know it, you will have proud little vegans on your hands. Good luck!