going vegan with a fussy four year old, plus school and family stuff(41 Posts)
I really want to go fully vegan (already vegetarian tending towards veganism) but have a really fussy four year old.
His diet consists of mostly potato dishes, plain pasta, plain veg, bread, fruit etc but very little "mixed" food eg. not keen on sauces, stew, curries etc
We already have non-dairy milk, but just struggling with the cheese side of things (e.g. pizza is one of the few things he will eat).
I don't have a great deal of time to cook elaborate meals for him (single parent) and when I try hard to make something suited for his taste a lot of the time he simply won't eat it.
So really making that leap to veganism is kind of dependent on him as I rely on getting him to eat a varied diet which sometimes includes cheese products...
I'm also aware that at school he'd like to fit in, being vegetarian is a bit difficult, so ensuring he has vegan food at school might be trickier as he might feel more left out...e.g. if they are having pudding, chocolate, pizza etc...
My family are vegetarian and won't give him vegan milk, e.g. they feed him cows milk, they don't seem that bothered about trying to avoid it. I guess I need another conversation with them about it but it feels like two steps forward at home then one step back when he goes there as he likes cow milk etc.
If anyone has any pointers about raising or going vegan with a fussy kid it would be most welcome!
I think you have to do what is best for your son and I can't see that veganism is it at the moment.
You don't need to make your son go vegan in order for you to go vegan. You eat what you want, don't force veganism on him.
I think you would be making your son an unnecessary target for bullies, kids don't like different and you're giving them ammunition. Is him having chocolate, cows milk or similar really going to hurt you? Kids need to make their own decisions, not have their parents views shoved down their throats (literally in this instance)
Why does he have to be vegan?
And I say that as the parent of two adult DC who have been vegetarian from birth.
All parents decide what their babies and young children eat. Vegetarian and vegan parents are no different from omnivores in this regard.
But in this case, the child is a fussy eater so already eats a very restricted diet. Being vegan would be fine if the child ate a wider variety of foods.
My daughter has been vegetarian since age 6 her choice - i am not . However i wiuldnt be keen on her her being vegan . As a child it is a very restrictive diet if it is not the cultural norm and they would miss out at parties etc and feel different to their peers. Also if already a fussy eater could feed more into that and create bigger problems. Also i do think that children should be allowed were possible and healthy to make choices about what they eat just as you have made the choice to be vegetarian / vegan. Also if you dont have time to cook really well i would be concered about maintaining a balanced diet without having to resort to supplements which we know is not the best way to get the right balance of vitamins and mnierals into your body
His diet consists of mostly potato dishes, plain pasta, plain veg, bread, fruit etc but very little "mixed" food eg. not keen on sauces, stew, curries etc...
I don't have a great deal of time to cook elaborate meals for him
You have described him wanting quite simple, quick to prepare things, nothing elaborate.
If it was okay for you to have milk products for the first 25 yrs of your life (or however old you are), then maybe just let him have the same. He can settle up his personal karma about as well as you will have to do.
I'm just wondering... why do you want to go vegan?
Go vegan yourself, but don't make your ds's diet any more limited than it already is. Leaving a child malnourished because of your own dietary preferences is not a laudable aim.
Sounds like on balance it might be better for him not to be vegan at this point and he can make up his own mind when he is less fussy and you/him have more time to cook.
Would also make play dates tricky for other parents! Not sure how that balances against your morals, but I think you have to throw it all into the mix!
I'm vegan and my children have a vegan diet at home but when they are at school / friends houses they have vegatarian food (it wouldn't overly bother me if they eat meat either but so far they haven't wanted to). I figure they'll choose if they want to be 100% vegan over time.
I agree with the others, him wanting some cheese etc shouldn't be a problem for your veganism. Eg if making pizza, he can have a small sprinkling of cheese and you can have yours without. I know a predominantly vegan family (completely dairy-free from birth) but the kids do have eggs from time to time. You have to go with what works in your circumstances.
Let your child have less of a restricted diet and he might not be as picky.
It's a moral choice that you have made for yourself but you should let your son make his own decision when he is old enough.
Do you really want him to be excluded from parties because other parents are worried in case he helps himself to the "wrong" food.
Do you really want him to be unhappy because he sees others eating things and isn't allowed them.
Being vegan is very hard for a child.
I think you need to do what's right for your son here, not what you want to do. You need to change your diet and make the effort with your own food, as opposed to forcing him to change his. If it's you who wants to make the change, then it's you who has to accept that you have to spend more time and money on making the change for yourself while ensuring he's not forced into doing something that's not to his benefit.
I agree with pp that this doesn't seem the right time to change his diet to vegan - if he happily ate lots of vegan food already it would be different.
What is the problem with eg him following a vegetarian diet at school and then eating predominantly vegan food at home?
Why not eat vegan at home (I am not vegan but there must be vegan cheeses you can put on pizza?) and as PPs have said, vegetarian the rest of the time?
If you are concerned about animal welfare can you steer your parents towards free range milk?
At this age my DS' friends who don't eat pork are happy to tell me they don't want the sausages/ham at parties so I'm sure he knows that you as a family don't eat meat and can avoid it when at school/friends' houses. It's a bit easier than having an allergy in that the odd thing may slip through (e.g. gelatine in sweets) but he isn't going to get sick from it.
Then when he is older and able to understand food ingredients, if he wants to he also can become vegan.
Does he eat nut butters? My two love these (we have them as our staple spread because we try and keep sugar to a minimum rather than because we're vegetarian) and they are great for veggie/vegan kids.
You go vegan.
Leave him to eat what he wants
You will make his eating habits worse if you start removing things he would eat purely because of your own habits, which you have only recently adopted.
Can he be mainly vegan at home (apart from the cheese on pizza, etc) but have cows milk, other non-vegan things at other people's houses?
I have a friend who is vegan and her DC eat mainly vegan at home as that's what she has, so she doesn't buy cows milk, butter, etc but when going to other people's houses, DC eat non-vegan things as she says she can't expect other people to buy different milk, etc. When DC come to mine, they have toast with butter, cereal with milk, etc. DC just accept at home they don't have this, it's no big deal. Friend will sometimes give normal cheese to DC when making pizza as they don't like the vegan cheese or other pizza toppings. Friend is quite laid back about it all, it seems to work out well.
I know a predominantly vegan family (completely dairy-free from birth) but the kids do have eggs from time to time
If they eat eggs, they aren't vegan.
Some harsh responses! This is the vegan topic! People who are condemning the OP would you do so if a child ate a certain way due to religious or cultural reasons? What is wrong with the OP wanting a healthier diet for her son that saves animals and the planet? Parents constantly inflict their views, beliefs and lifestyles on their children in every aspect of their daily lives. This isn't harmful and the OP is obviously not forcing anything on her DS just looking for advice on a transition.
Why not buy a few different milks to see which one he wants. Cashew is creamy and Oatley is popular with kids. As is the soy growing up milk. They come in different flavours too. The choc alpro is divine (as is the desert pot!)
Vegan chocolate as a whole is pretty good - with sainsburies 'free from' range doing milk, choc orange etc for 40p a bar.
Pizza is no problem - just buy the base and put on some vegan cheese and the other ingredients.
The Tesco free from cheese range is yum - you can also get special cheese for pizzas that melts well. Alpro yoghurts are smooth and like fromage frais.
Quorn fishless fingers are just the same as fish ones.
Plenty of meals are vegan and not hard - get a recipe book and you will be surprised how easy it is.
Linda McCartney has a great range of burgers / sausages and even things like shredded duck that are sooo tasty.
Lots of 'kid friendly' treat food is vegan - peanut butter and jam sandwiches, Oreos, hula hoops etc etc. Also now you can get dairy free ice cream in any supermarket which is just as nice as non vegan.
Hummus and peanut butter with red pepper and breadsticks for a snack. Fruit and veg for snacking is of course really healthy so it's great he eats that.
Healthy quick meals - if he doesn't like veg sauce do you have a bullet or blender you can add a load of veg to a tomato sauce and blend it to disguise.
Roast spuds with Linda McCartney sausages and lots of veg with bisto red gravy, Beans on jacket potato, Udon noodles, Spaghetti, Soups, Vegan mac and cheese, Pesto pasta, Rice and beans, picnic style tea, Risotto
Loads of recipes out there to try. He may prefer the meat substitutes rather than vegan dishes for now. Tofu, seitan and tempeh are surprisingly easy to cook. The Asda chicken less chicken is like popcorn chicken.
Lots of smoothies - easy to disguise goodness in them like spinach while still tasting sweet like fruits.
Just take it steady and introduce new foods slowly. Don't let it put you off going vegan yourself as you can always batch cook your curries/ chilli etc for you and freeze for quick week night meals.
Does he eat vegan protein?
Personally I'd feed him vegan at home at let him eat whatever he wants to when he's out and about he will make his own choices eventually anyway and he might decide to be completely vegan
For those talking about being bullied. Surely it's important to teach kids not to bully rather than stop any differences! In my experience children can be bullied for hundreds of reasons, so you really can't let that be your moral code.
Plus lots of children eat different diets now - allergies, halal, vegetarian, kosher, intolerances, dairy free, gluten free, diabetic etc etc. Schools are very used to handling these issues.
It is easy to pop some treats into school to keep for a child to have when the other children are having one.
SuburbanRhonda yes I know - hence i said predominantly. They eat no dairy or meat etc ever. I just happen to know that they very very occasionally have an egg - and that's only the kids and one parent. Other parent is 100% vegan and always has been. My point was about flexibility when appropriate.
What amazes me is all the vegan substitutes for milk & meat products (that exist & that people promote). If meat and milk are so bad, why do you want fake versions of meat & milk?
Can someone please remind me how to hide topics? Will google...
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