Today friend and fellow vegan, Robin Fetter of The Real Vegan Housewife, blogs on Cowgirls and Collard Greens for the first time! Robin and I “met” online a few years ago but met in real life this past November when I was visiting her area for an event. Let’s just say that Robin is a mover and a shaker when it comes to all things having to do with raising a vegan family. I was able to experience a glimpse into vegan mom life while staying with her and I definitely have a new found respect for parents in general. Being a mom is a tough job, but being a vegan mom is badassery! Thankfully Robin is an expert on vegan parenting and I am thrilled she’s here to share some some of her favorite tips. Welcome Robin!
It should come as no surprise that when most people see me and my family (of five) either at an outing or just in passing, they are shocked to find out that we are all vegan…especially when they look at my husband who has a very athletic build. The common stereotype of a vegan is typically a twenty-something, who is child-free, and has a home full of rescued animals. The only thing my family has going for the stereotype is our rescued pit bull and cat! Although the number of vegans is growing steadily (a 2014 survey stated that 2.5% of Americans identify as “vegan,” compared to 2008, when we were less than 1%!), there is rarely a mention of your average vegan family. I remember when I was pregnant with my first child, resources were scarce and I managed to find just one vegan pregnancy book on Amazon that was $80!!! Needless to say, it was discouraging but I knew deep down that if a vegan diet did so well for me and my husband, certainly it would do wonders to bring a child into this world as a vegan too.
So for those of you who are considering going vegan as a family effort or perhaps you are planning to add some mini vegans into your life down the road, here’s a few things you should keep in your back pocket:
- Find Medical Professionals Who Support You– I cannot stress this enough! Far too often, I hear that vegans do not tell their OB/GYNs, pediatricians, family doctors, etc. of their cruelty free lifestyle mainly out of fear of being lectured to death or being discouraged from being vegan in the first place. If your doctor thinks soy will create “man-boobs” or that “vegans are always vitamin deficient,” find a new one! The good news is that you don’t have to live in a major city to find a doctor who is what I like to call, “vegan knowledgeable.”
- Seek Out a Network of Like-Minded Parents– This might seem like a stretch for some of you but thanks to social media, there are vegan parents within a keyboard’s reach and oddly enough, this is how I found another vegan family living in my town before I started having children of my own. When my husband and I welcomed our first child, I cannot tell you enough about how valuable Chris and Darlene were in our lives as new parents. They gave us soooo much helpful advice and although I now have three children, I still find myself going to them! If you cannot find vegan families in your own town, don’t fret…although I was lucky to find vegan parents local to me, I also became close friends with many other vegan parents across the country and over the years I have been able to travel and visit many of them.
- Set Yourself Up For Success– When you become a parent, you and your child will get invited to a play-dates, sleepovers, and kiddie birthday parties. I will also go out on a limb and tell you that this rule also applies to those times when you need a sitter. Don’t expect anyone outside your home to become vegan experts overnight! The best thing you can do is to be very forthcoming about your vegan family and also bring vegan friendly options in order to take out any guesswork on anyone’s part! Sometimes I have frozen cupcakes in the freezer that I can frost as needed for birthday events but there are other times when I am in a pinch and need to go to a local bakery that makes vegan cupcakes. There’s other occasions where I have homemade snacks and meals but I’ve been in situations where I’ve only had Clif Kid Zbars and PB&J sandwiches. Communication and preparation are key!!! It may seem like work, but at the end of the day, it is a small price to pay for peace of mind.
- Build It And They Will Come– After a couple failed Google Searches, I noticed there was nothing local in my town for vegan, let alone vegetarian parents. I wanted a place where parents can ask other like-minded parents for advice from restaurants to veg friendly doctors in the area. Also, I wanted to host potlucks and meetups so we can better know each other and build a sense of community. It took me literally five minutes to set up a Facebook page for the Charlottesville Veg Parents Network, which welcomes both vegan and vegetarian families (I found many vegetarian families are interested in going vegan). The response was so huge that even the former mayor of my town promoted my group on his page. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone!
There’s plenty of reasons to go vegan (the animals, your health, your kids health, and the health of our planet); Amazon.com is full of vegan cookbooks, and the internet is full of vegan blogs (although you should follow me at (www.therealveganhousewife.com!). Be confident in your decision to have your family live a cruelty free life, don’t let anybody make you second guess your decisions!
Some Helpful Links:
- Feeding Vegan Children:
- (via Vegetarian Resource Group) – http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/kids.php
- (via Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) – http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vegdiets/vegetarian-diets-for-children-right-from-the-start
- Books for Vegan Kids:
- Not a Nugget by Stephanie Dreyer – http://veegmama.com/not-a-nugget/
- Ruby Roth, vegan author of children’s books – http://www.wedonteatanimals.com/
- Dave Loves Chickens by Carlos Patino – http://veganpublishers.com/multimedia-archive/dave-loves-chickens/
- Vegan Kids Clothing:
- My Voice – http://www.myvoicetshirts.com/collections/clothing
- Cafe Press – http://www.cafepress.com/+vegan+baby-clothing
About Robin Fetter:
Robin is a wife, mother, and vegan living in Charlottesville, Virgina who does not fit the stereotype of veganism. She created her blog, The Real Vegan Housewife as a way to show others how simple it is to raise a normal vegan family. In her spare time, she helps co-organize her local Charlottesville Vegan Meetup Group and is the founder of the Charlottesville Veg Parents Network.