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Any vegan adopters out there?

(42 Posts)
Fakinit03 Thu 06-Feb-20 09:26:12

We are right at the start of our adoption process but just wanting to hear some experiences. We have a 3yr old birth son already and we have been a vegan family for 2.5 years.
I am aware that depending on the age of the child we adopt (we will be limited to a max of 2yr old) we may not be able to put them straight onto a vegan diet but just wanted to hear if anyone has experience of being a vegan adopter and if they met any resistance from social workers or any tips or advice you could give us?

I'm not looking for a debate or opinions on whether a vegan diet is suitable for children, I have a happy healthy 3yr old to answer that for me!

OP’s posts: |
poppet31 Thu 06-Feb-20 10:52:18

We are not vegan but are vegetarian and our social worker was asked about it at matching panel. The panel just asked if we would be willing to give our child meat if that's all they would eat etc, as it's important not to drastically change their diet too quickly.

Our son is luckily not a fussy eater and so will eat pretty much anything, including quorn, tofu etc. But we do still give him some meat (ham sandwiches at lunch etc) as that's what he was used to in foster care. I think as long as your are willing to put the needs of the child first, and that may require letting them eat meat in some circumstances, you shouldn't have too many problems.

Happydaysareheretostaywayhay Thu 06-Feb-20 10:55:07

Gosh that’s a tough one, I know a lot of adopters and none are vegan. In theory, it shouldn’t affect your approval as long as you were flexible in your approach depending on the child’s needs.

In practice, you may find it harder to be matched with a child if the child’s placing la use competitive matching. You may be ok, but might find that if two or three suitable families were very similar in what they could offer, the child’s social worker may choose the non vegan family and you could be passed over time and time again.

While it’s great that your three year old is thriving on a vegan diet, I imagine they’ve had a really good start in terms of pregnancy and diet over their first three years. This might not be so for a child waiting to be adopted. Good luck with adopting. Hope it works out for you.

Fakinit03 Thu 06-Feb-20 11:11:24

@poppet31 that's good to hear. I'm prepared that we may need to feed a non vegan diet in the first instance but I guess it depends on the age. Our social worker seemed to think we would likely be matched with a baby so I'm imagining this would be a bit easier??
We are very aware that we may need to do the transition very slowly and this wouldn't be a problem for us.

OP’s posts: |
Fakinit03 Thu 06-Feb-20 11:12:56

@poppet31 at which point did you tell the social worker? We weren't asked anything about diet at the initial visit so it hasn't come up yet although I have put it on our medical forms so it will come from there I guess

OP’s posts: |
veejayteekay Thu 06-Feb-20 11:26:34

Hi there I'm not a vegan myself but come from a long line of vegans and veggies lol so v familiar with the diet with my family. Based on my experience I wouldn't expect this to be a huge issue. Expect some slightly ignorant questioning from time to time perhaps and maybe to be slightly patronised about it during stage 2 assessment but I can't see that that is going to be a barrier. I would however just echo others that what I would say is it's extremely important to replicate familiarity for your adopted child within the first few weeks of coming home if not the first few months depending on their story and how well they settle. Things like food can seem trivial and a bit dramatic on paper but in practice i havev found my son was really reassured by the continuity for a little while. As others have said this may mean that for the purposes of settling in the social workers will prob just want reassurance that you would put this first if necessary and as others say not make any dramatic changes too soon. Also may be some questioning as with any lifestyle/belief system about whether you would support your child in choosing an alternative lifestyle if they so wish as they grow older etc. It can all be a bit full on during process with every tiny little thing discussed but just so you are aware that it may be a conversation piece if nothing else and may just need to bit your tongue slightly on occasion! (Bit different but we had this with religion, we are atheists). As long as you are comfortable with the expectation that you are led as first priority but your child's needs that should be all they need to know

Strugglingmum73 Thu 06-Feb-20 20:32:03

I don’t think it would be a huge issue. Even with babies though you will need to feed them with familiar food initially even if that’s meat/fish etc. They will have lost everything that is familiar for them without any understanding of why so really important to stick to what they know initially and make very gradual changes.

jellycatspyjamas Thu 06-Feb-20 22:29:38

It’s like any lifestyle choice, I’d expect it to be discussed and explored in assessment.

The thing to be aware of, I guess, is that for all children food, toileting and sleep tend to be the areas which are challenging, because it’s the few things they have full control over, even more for children who have had an adverse start in life. You need to consider how you’d cope if your adopted child simply refused a vegan diet (in that they might only be prepared to eat chicken nuggets, or ham, or sausages for a long time). You need to consider that it may not be the case of transitioning him/her to a vegan diet because they may not for a long time (if ever) be able to make that transition. I’m not saying that to scare you, more for you to really think that - as with all lifestyle choices - an adopted child may just not cope with the change and would you be ok with that in the medium to longer term.

Ifeel1000yearsold Thu 06-Feb-20 22:38:31

Completely agree @jellycatspyjamas and of course the social worker may want to explore how the children need to accepted for what they are rather than what you want them to be. I would expect you might get some questions about this from the children’s social worker and panel. Not so much the vegan lifestyle but more accepting the child you are matched with (including their food preferences whatever they might be).

Fakinit03 Fri 07-Feb-20 07:31:32

@jellycatspyjamas I am aware that I may have to feed a non vegan diet for some time but I'm imagining any parent vegan or not is expected to transition their child to a healthier diet than chicken nuggets? I'm not expecting to be any different.
Its more the attitudes etc I'm wanting advice on. People have some weird ideas around vegan ism.

@Ifeel1000yearsold for me eating a plant based diet is just about providing them the healthiest diet I can and also trying to help preserve the planet my children are growing up in. I'm not trying to change who they are anymore than a non vegan parent who just doesn't want their child to be eating chicken nuggets at every meal.

OP’s posts: |
Runner31 Fri 07-Feb-20 08:04:01

My husband and I are vegan and have just been approved at panel. Our social worker knew from a few months in to the process but we reassured her we understood the importance of maintaining food and diet habits with any children we adopt. She also came round to observe us during a family visit. My non vegan parents were there and she saw my husband making a meat curry for them so I think that put her mind at rest. I don't know if she discussed our diet with the panel but they didn't ask us any questions about it.
For us a vegan diet is as much about healthy non processed meals as it is about no meat or dairy so regardless of whether they're meat eaters or not so like you we'll be moving away from chicken nuggets as soon as possible!

Fakinit03 Fri 07-Feb-20 08:13:19

@Runner31 congrats on your approval! That's great news!
Very encouraging to hear it hasn't been an issue for you. Veganism is becoming much more mainstream now so it is something that will also become more common in adoption. I'm well aware there will be difficulties but I don't think anymore than any other adoptive parent. Keep me posted on how it all goes for you!

OP’s posts: |
Ted27 Fri 07-Feb-20 08:50:39

Whilst we might want our kids to eat healthily its not always that easy to achieve.
My son has autism and was very rigid around food. He refused to eat anything other than ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch for about four years, every single day, couldnt leave the cheese out, couldn't leave the ham out. Even now 8 years along its still his default choice, except he has progressed to toasties/paninis.
He still has the same breakfast, Weetabix, every single day, except the weekends, when he has the same weekend breakfast.
Evening meals have become more flexible, but for a long time it was the same seven meals, sausages on Monday, pasta on Tuesday, pizza on Wednesday. Eight years on, its still pizza on Wednesday and fish and chips on Friday.
The routine of the food gives him some structure to his week. He has a reasonsble diet overall, lots of veg and fruit, but he is very rigid about his choices.
Sometimes the choice isnt about eating healthy or not its about getting calories in them.
Chances are you won't have a problem, but the question is what if you do, are you happy to compromise for a very long time and give them eggs and diary products, or meat ?
I think you also need to think about issues that might arise with your birth child. What if, for example, you do end up with a child that only eats chicken nuggets, and your son sees that and wants chicken nuggetts as well ? How would you deal with that?

Fakinit03 Fri 07-Feb-20 09:01:31

@Ted27 like I've said a few times I am willing to provide a non vegan diet for as long as necessary, I'm just looking for others experiences in this area.
My son is used to eating differently than other kids with his cousins/friends and at nursery. He finds the idea of eating animals horrific so I don't think it will be a problem. He doesn't even eat vegan meat looking food because he just doesn't recognise it as something to eat.
I plan on trying to swap as much as possible for vegan alternatives until they will eat the same as us anyway. There are for example vegan nuggets that I have never known any meat eater be able to tell the difference.

OP’s posts: |
Ted27 Fri 07-Feb-20 09:22:19

I was just trying to make the point that if you end up with a child with food issues, it could take years, not months to shift them.

I'm not veggie, or vegan, but don't eat a great deal of meat either, so have no issue with either as a choice, to be honest I wish I could be disciplined enough to go properly veggie but I'm not.

But I think we all have ideas about how we are going to be as parents, and it just doesnt work out that way. I'm certainly not the mum I thought I would be.
As I said, chances are you will be fine, you just have to be prepared in case its not

jellycatspyjamas Fri 07-Feb-20 11:14:43

I plan on trying to swap as much as possible for vegan alternatives until they will eat the same as us anyway. There are for example vegan nuggets that I have never known any meat eater be able to tell the difference.

And I guess what some of us are saying is that transition may not happen quickly or at all. My DS needed exactly the same brand of some foods to be able to eat at all - no change even for a better quality of food, he’s been with us for 3 years and I’ve only now been able to change certain foods.

It’s not about vegan or not vegan, it’s about knowing the child ultimately will control their own food intake and might not get on with the healthy meals you plan.

nevernotstruggling Fri 07-Feb-20 11:27:49

Sw here. I receive PARs for potential adopters for my babies all the time. I doubt I would even notice parents being vegan. What I want to know is are you aware of potential challenges and do you take that seriously - aside from obvious things like lifestyle and housing etc!!
Wouldn't bother me in the slightest. I am placing babies so no diet changeover issues really.
I have been doing this job a long time. Something in the PAR will grab my attention and draw me in about the background of the adopters that matches well with my baby and I will go from there.
Hope that helps

Fakinit03 Fri 07-Feb-20 12:51:58

@nevernotstruggling that is so great to hear! Thank you!!!

OP’s posts: |
nevernotstruggling Fri 07-Feb-20 13:29:44

@Fakinit03 no worries. Like others though I would say brace yourselves for needing to be flexi when settling a child in. Some babies will be jar fed or worse. As long as you get your head around that kind of thing and needing to be very patient with transition stuff it would be fine.

BL7cr Fri 07-Feb-20 20:08:50

I don’t see why there should be a problem at all with you being vegan.
But please do listen to what people are saying about how much some adopted children will struggle with food: control issues and sensory issues. We were vegetarian before the kids arrived. They were baby/toddler age. We are not veggie anymore. Yes my children absolutely would notice the difference between a vegan and meat nugget. One of our children still now 6 years later will shout and scream if we say dinner is anything other than plain pasta grin. Of course we do try and stretch what they eat and they’re good at eating more variety now, but when you have other big challenges going on, what they are eating feels the least of your worries!
Hope matching all goes well

Ifeel1000yearsold Fri 07-Feb-20 21:46:10

@nevernotstruggling, foster carer and adopter here (and lifelong vegetarian!) Diet changeover issues can be a huge issue for babies and it makes me really sad that this isn’t acknowledged more. The babies lose everything that is familiar to them when they move from foster carers to adopters, one of the things you can keep the same initially is food. It’s really important that babies are offered very familiar foods initially. It can cause huge issues both at the time and later as what they eat is one of the only things can can control.

delilabell Sat 08-Feb-20 13:46:57

Adopter here. I don't think it'll stand out that you're vegan. But they will ask how flexible you can be and that will include with eating habits. I had such plans for lovely home cooked meals for my son who was 18 months when he came home. He has sensory issues so will not eat foods that have different textures eg jam with seeds in, yogurt with fruit in, chicken nuggets etc. He was fed baby food for long time so cannot chew things well. He is anxious about eating so shoves the food in his mouth and bevause their is so much he can't chew it and "hamsters" it in his cheeks. He steals food. He has so many foods he refuses to eat.
It will be how you adapt to this whether you are vegan or not. The day my ds ate chips for the first time I was overjoyed! When I know most other parents would frown at that.
Wishing you the best of luck

nevernotstruggling Sat 08-Feb-20 16:12:03

@delilabell exactly this smile

MrsMatty Sat 08-Feb-20 20:17:07

Also you may need to consider, if your adopted child needs a diet that includes meat (and it is possible that that may be the case for a good while), what may be the reaction of your birth child, who finds the idea of eating animals horrific? Of course, may all be just fine, but I thought it might be an idea to consider various possible reactions and think how this might be managed.

defaultusername Mon 10-Feb-20 11:41:02

I know a few vegetarian adopters. They will want to check you can be child-centred, and not centre your own needs and beliefs above the child. Yes, a vegan diet can be done well, but it can also lead to deficiencies, especially in children, and especially in children who are more likely to have difficulties with food.

I think they would worry if you came over as dogmatic, or sure that you could transition the child to a different diet to that they're used to., or refused to acknowledge that for some children, veganism is not a healthy way to eat. And, yes, I'd be concerned about how your children will bond if you've taught one that animals aren't food, and then they see the other eating meat.

I also worry you're under-estimating the fussiness and nouse of children telling the difference between meat and fake meat!

I'm not looking for a debate or opinions on whether a vegan diet is suitable for children, I have a happy healthy 3yr old to answer that for me! This worries me- you have a healthy birth child. You may need to be open that what suits your birth child just fine, does not mean all children will be ok with it, especially a child who has been through trauma. I would expect the home study to explore this with you, and would advise being very open and willing to debate and understand different opinions.

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