Dealing with Outside Influences
How to help your child feel confident in their choices
In the classroom environment, talk with your child and encourage them to use any themed equipment or topics in a manner with which they feel more comfortable. This could mean renaming zoos and farms as sanctuaries, aquariums as sea life rescue centers, or simply asking to choose another activity.
On food- related school topics, research nutritionally comparable alternatives and replace on homework. For example, replacing the word “milk” with “hemp milk.” This sort of creative thinking will help build confidence and help your child develop an independent thought process that will be invaluable in later life!
In the cafeteria, your child may have a packed lunch or seperate meal options. Talk with them about how wonderful it is to make compassionate food choices and how they are setting a wonderful example for the other children, who may have never heard of veganism or know what it is. If there are opportunities for bake sales, try to participate and find vegan recipes for your child to contribute.
For class trips, alternatives could include approaching teachers at the start of the year to see if any controversial trips are planned. Suggest a visit to a local wildlife rescue and a guided tour of the natural habitats surrounding them, instead. Some animal charities will come and give presentations. If the school is not willing to compromise, help your child draft a letter to the head teacher as to why they will not be attending school that day ( if this is a possibility) and take them on a separate trip to an animal sanctuary or rescue center. They could even organize a fundraiser for an animal sanctuary.
As parents and caregivers of young vegans, who have often found veganism later in life, it can be extremely frustrating to see your children exposed to things you may not choose or want for them. It may feel daunting to hope their love for animals will stay strong, especially when they are, potentially, a lone opinion or voice in the classroom. You may have spent years guiding them through life as a vegan, knowing full well that most school environments encourage humans to view animals as a commodity or source of entertainment and nutrients. Believe in your child’s compassion! Harm is a learned behavior, we are born in love and it is more likely that your child will inspire another child to learn more and gain compassion and love for animals.
Instilling the vegan value of not harming animals in your children is as important as ensuring animals stay off their plate. It is crucial that they understand and believe in veganism, it has to come from within their own compassionate souls. Who knows, they may even convert a few along their journey!