Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Veganism and Children

Today's playgroup was my, and Sam's, first real experience at a non-vegan potluck (that wasn't a family event) in a long time.  All things considered, it went surprisingly well.  Even though some people seem to have forgotten the "do not feed other people's children" rule, Sam wasn't particularly interested in the non-vegan appropriate foods that were circulating.

I was also pleasantly surprised that a few other people (thanks Melissa! Mercie Julie!) brought some baked goods that were suitable for vegans.  In classic party fashion Sam glutted himself on the offerings.

Of course, judging by some of the descriptions of what veganism is, I suspect that I have some educating to do (I was unfortunately too preoccupied or too far away to interject in most cases).  All in all though, it was a really nice playgroup, and contrary to my fears, there was no drama over the food.

I just hope that next week's "animals" theme stays away from domestication, or at the very least away from zoos and farm animals....

On a completely different note, the March issue of "Today's Parent" magazine clearly illustrates the problem with talking about animal welfare instead of animal rights, as well as the issue with only getting a single reference for nutritional information (it would have been nice had they gotten their "vegan children" information from a nutritionist specializing in plant based diets).  The nutritional advice, can be summed up as "yes, you can raise children as vegans, but they need to eat 20% more food than non-vegans to meet caloric requirements, and watch out for the protein!" as though there was no high-calorie nutrient dense foods out there like nuts, seeds and avocado....

But the real kicker is a sidebar titled "What about the animals?"  Here is the full contents:


For some tweens, concerns about animal welfare -- how animals are treated and slaughtered -- may cause them to be reticent about eating meat.

Twyla Francois, head of investigations for Canadians for the Eathical Treatment of Food Animals in Winnipeg, says there are good reasons to be concerned. "Canada lags far behind Europe in standards for the treatment, transport and slaughter of food animals," says Francois. "We dont' have the legistlation to protect them.'

Meat that is humanely raised is becoming more widely available.  Finding a local source for ethically raised meat may make it more palatable for your child.  The two of your might start by visiting a farmers' market or talking with your local butcher.

For more information, visit

This sidebar had me fuming this morning.  Veganism has little to do with animal welfare.  Obviously we don't want to see animals suffer, but more importantly, veganism is about not using animals.  Animal welfare is best summed up by the first sentance in the BC SPCA website "The BC SPCA is an animal welfare organization, which means we believe the keeping and use of animals is justified as long as their welfare is ensured." (ack! the blatant speciesism is really hard to stomach there... I couldn't even read the rest of the page).

I think that "tweens" (I hate that label) should be given more credit than that. I became vegetarian over 20 years ago when I became aware of the fact that animals had to die for my food.  A while later as I grew up and become more educated on the subject, I became a vegan (in spite of groups like PETA).  I strongly believe that if I had had access to the information that is available now, when I was 10, I would have become vegan right away.

I will save the talk of "what is veganism?" for another post (coming up this week!), as I think that this post is long enough.  While there are some issues of Today's Parent that I really like, I find the exposure to what I suppose must be mainstream animal exploitation to be very hard to put up with.  The first thing that I do when I get a Today's Parent in the mail is to rip out all the pages that are double-sided ads.  This cuts down the volume of the magazine significantly.  I think that the next time around I will start ripping out the pages that promote the use and exploitation of other animals.  Hopefully I will still have something left to read.


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