Society

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How to talk to kids about veganism?

how to talk to kids

This is a chapter from my eBook Vegan Convo: Talking about veganism with people who eat animals.

Kids can be very compassionate beings if we let them, but usually we condition them from the early age to eat animals and abuse them for fun. We take children with us to hunt and kill; we go fishing with them and tell them that eating animals is okay because their bodies are meant for our consumption.

They watch us kill bugs and insects, talk about killing and dominating the animals, we take them to Zoos and aquariums with an excuse to teach them about the animals and how they live. But in reality we are doing the opposite; we are taking them as far away from the real lives of animals as possible.

Animals in nature don’t live in cages and eat food that is given to them, they run and hunt, they take care of themselves, but we don’t know that because Zoos are prisons for animals. Animals there are locked in cages and put on display for our pleasure and entertainment. They are taken from the wild and put in cages FOR us and BY us, not for their good, but for OUR good.

If you watch children with a pear and a worm, in most cases they will eat a pear and play with a worm. They might harm it, but it’s because they are not careful enough, not because they would want to kill an animal. Sure there are kids that would kill a spider, but not because they would want to (usually not, but hey, there is always that one in a million chance that someone is born a psychopath), but because they have been told that it’s acceptable to kill an animal that is different from us.

A child doesn’t want to kill a pig or a chicken; they could never take a knife and stab an animal. It is not natural for us; we are not born with an instinct to kill someone. Tigers and lions are born with an urge to kill, but it’s because they are tigers and lions, not humans that grow salad on their garden and cook meat before we eat it. If it would be natural for us to eat an animal we wouldn’t have to grill it, we would just eat it with bones and blood all together.

A newborn baby is not craving blood and flesh of other animals, they crave their mother’s milk, which is also what baby calves drink to grow, their mother cow’s milk. Have you ever seen a grown cow drinking milk from another cow? I know you haven’t, it’s not possible and it’s not natural. Yet, here we are humans, drinking milk from a cow as adults. Not really something that is written in our DNA isn’t it? It’s something we have taught ourselves to do, we have forced change upon our DNA and our bodies, and we changed who humans were supposed to be.

Sounds like something humans would do? Yeah, I thought so.

Now, there might be children that grow up in a vegan family and they find themselves having no compassion at all towards animals, it happens. Just like it happens that a sociopath or a psychopath grows up in a completely functional and loving family. But what are the chances of something like that happening? One in a million, if even that.

If you find yourself in a child’s company and they are eating an animal, you can share with them a fun fact about an animal they are eating. My sister is not a vegan and she raises her daughter to eat animals, but whenever we are together I always make sure that she is told that pigs are very intelligent and clean animals. My sister always makes fun of me for saying that, because I always say it to her when she insults someone that they are dirty like a pig. She usually says that she just wanted to see my reaction and that’s why she said it.

Kids observe adults and learn from them, so be someone that is compassionate and kind. If their parents are not a great example of someone who is compassionate and loving towards animals, make sure that you are. You can be an example of someone who treats animals with respect and love, you can always inspire someone else to go vegan as well. Those kids might not be vegan growing up, but when they are old enough to buy food for themselves they will remember their aunt or uncle that cared for animals so much.

Children are our future and we need to make sure that we help them grow up to be compassionate and incredible people, and the only way to make sure that this happens is to be an example of a compassionate and incredible person. When they are young they are still unaware of how horrible the world can be and unlike adults, the world hasn’t corrupted them… much. We know that these days’ kids grow up very fast, well, let’s make sure they grow up fast to be good people and not lost people. Technology is good, but what is better is caring for others, so let’s care for each other and the children will learn.

EXERCISE TIME.

Borrow in a library a bunch of vegan friendly children’s books and give them to a child you know. You can also take them to a farm sanctuary or a similar place and in the mean time you can talk to them about animals and how we must be nice to them. Be a positive example of a vegan.

BONUS TIPS FOR VEGAN PARENTS WITH NON VEGAN KIDS.

  • Watch vegan movies with them. Okja is a great example of a beautiful yet powerful movie that shows the cruel side of eating meat. Yes, it is kid friendly and will not show anything graphic that would give them nightmares. It’s not a completely vegan movie but the main message is pretty clear. You can also watch Babe and Legally Blonde 2, which talks about animal testing.
  • Take them to a farm sanctuary and let them connect to the animals that were rescued. If they never see pigs in person, and if they never touch a cow, how on Earth can they feel love for them and care enough to stop eating them? Sometimes people just need to touch an animal to connect the dots.
  • Buy vegan friendly books for them. Ruby Roth is an incredible children’s book writer and has written beautiful vegan books. They are easy to read and perfect for a child of any age really. I already have one that I am saving for my niece when she is a bit older.
  • Veganize your kid’s favourite foods. Vegan hot dogs? Got it. Vegan pancakes? Got it. You can make pretty much anything vegan these days.
  • Buy vegan foods for them. You know, like soy yoghurt and vegan candy. There are plenty of those, so trust me that you will find something your kid will like.
  • Sit them down and have a talk. It’s important to let your kids know that what they’re doing is not good and that you wish you could teach them about it earlier – in case you just went vegan because otherwise why wouldn’t you raise your kids vegan as well – but that you know better now and you want to let them know that you will be eating vegan at home because you love the animals and eating plants is healthier.
  • Show them mild graphic videos. Yes, there are graphic videos that even kids can watch.

Get Vegan Convo: Talking About Veganism with People Who Eat Animals here.

The beauty and danger of belief + how to change the world

change the world

It doesn’t happen often that a song makes me rethink my beliefs, but when it comes to John Mayer, he can pretty much do anything with his music. His album Continuum is probably the best album that anyone has ever put together – alongside Leighton Meester’s Heartstrings – and his song Slow Dancing in a Burning Room is my favourite song of all time, but it’s his song Belief that actually inspired me to write this today. It was his song Belief that made me question some things.

The line in Belief that touched me the most and that always puts a knife in my heart because it’s so painfully true, he sings: »Belief is a beautiful armor but makes for the heaviest sword, like punching underwater, you never can hit who you’re trying for.«

Just listen to the song performed live. Beautiful.

As people we always fight beliefs and ideas that people have about how the world should be. We fight others because their beliefs are not the same as ours and we kill because we are convinced in our way of living. We protest and shout, shoot and punch, all because we want to change the world; because we want to fight the beliefs of others who are different from us.

That doesn’t mean that all beliefs are to be accepted and never questioned, as far as things go in my book, if your beliefs aren’t harming others, you can believe in whatever you want.

But that’s not how things are isn’t it? That’s not how the world works. Our beliefs have done more harm than good. Our beliefs have killed more people than saved.

So how can we save the world? How can we fight beliefs? In the words of John Mayer, we are never going to win the world, we are never going to stop the war, if belief is what we are fighting for.

I wish there would be an easy answer, or at least an answer that would be understood by most people, but there isn’t one. All we can do is not try to change other people’s beliefs, but live our truth.

The world was built on beliefs. Some beliefs are harmful and dangerous, others are innocent. Some beliefs need to be protected, others need to be rejected. How do we know which beliefs are which? Look in your heart. Look around. Look at which beliefs harm and which don’t.

  • Believing that some people should be killed because they believe in something else is a harmful belief and should be rejected.
  • Believing that one gender or race is less valuable than the other is a belief that is harmful and should be rejected.
  • Believing in an invisible man in the sky and in the book that was written by primitive man is dangerous and should be rejected.
  • Believing that one species of animals must dominate the other is dangerous and should be rejected.

What makes a belief dangerous and harmful? A belief should be rejected if it oppresses someone else, if it harms the other being, and most importantly, if that belief kills. The second someone dies because of a belief, it should be rejected.

Another thing that inspired this post is a video by someone whom I deeply admire and I think he is a genius, and that is Sam Harris. Sam is a philosopher, author of multiple books – his book Waking Up is one of my favourites, and a neuroscientist. He often debates religious people and talks about meditation and consciousness and the observer and all the things that I love.

Anyway, here is a video that talks about the dangers of religious beliefs.

I remember a few months ago, when I was passionately figuring out the best ways to change the world and how to make a huge difference in the world while living my short life, I heard one of my favourite animal advocates, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, talk about on her podcast Food For Thought, about how we should stop changing the world and change ourselves instead. Why? Because we ARE changing the world either way, we don’t have to do it. We already are doing it.

We are all working on the outside. We want to change the world yet we rarely change ourselves. Remember that famous quote by one of my favourite plant eaters Lev Tolstoy? He said that everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves. Truer words have never been spoken.

Yes, let’s debate and protest and physically stop if necessary. Yes, let’s change the world and make it a better place.

But let’s do it by changing ourselves first. Let’s fight beliefs by living according to our own way of compassion. Let’s stop fighting the war and instead bring peace to the world. Let’s stop protesting against slavery and let’s protest for equality. Stop using your voice to speak and instead do.

DO!

Let your life be an example.

Yes, beliefs are harmful and we can rarely change them, but if we want to take a shot at influencing those whose beliefs are harmful and dangerous, the best way to do it is through our own life. We can’t avoid beliefs in a world of ours, but we can change all our beliefs into one – compassion. Let that be your biggest belief that you live by.

To keep up with what I do, find me on Twitter and Instagram.

Tanja

change the world

Mind detox + how social media controls us

mind detox

In late July I was given a challenge to detox my mind for 12 days by not reading, listening to music/podcasts, writing, watching movies/shows/videos and checking social media; basically to spend 12 days without anyone telling me what to do in any form.

I did that.

I hated it.

I loved it.

If you know a bit about me, you know that we don’t own a TV at home, so I have been TV free for like 6 years or something and I kind of went through a mind detox back then, but that was much different. Social media is awfully clever. Well, people that run them and people who post on them are awfully clever.

They know how to sell, what to sell, when to sell, why to sell; they know how to sell that what they want you to do is needed and it is needed to be done by you. They are very good at it.

But more than people who professionally sell you ideas, social media manages to bring the worst out of people. You don’t know how weak you are at controlling your mind until you go on Facebook and find yourself stalking an old friend who did you wrong. That’s when you know you really hit that low point and you should be ashamed of yourself.

Every day we watch people live their lives presented through the camera lenses in the form of photos and videos. They pick the best moments – like we all do, let’s not pretend we are any different – and feed us with them. We are craving new content from them to chew on. To taste that happy perfect life they present. And it doesn’t even matter if they are honest about not having the life they present on their social media, we still want it. We must have it!

So what do we do?

We follow people that we like and want to be like. We watch videos with content that is far too superficial to be even seen as educational, yet we consume it like we have never eaten before. We let celebrities – whom we admire – influence our taste in music, politics, food, clothes, beauty, relationships etc.

If my favourite actor does that, I must do it too. He is influential, he is powerful, and he is more than I am.

Bullshit.

They are all just people who share their views and opinions. But we – the weak followers of the leaders in the shadow – we trust them and want to be like them, mainly because through that same source of evil – meaning social media – we are taught that our lives suck and we should be miserable.

We are brainwashed into behaving like victims.

I don’t blame celebrities. They are just humans. They are the same as you are with the exception of fame and a bigger pay check. But they are humans too. You just forget that.

During those 12 days I heard myself again. I heard my voice. I think I forgot how it sounded like.

When I had no one else to tell me what I should do and what I should think, I could see the world for myself again. I could experience life on my own terms, without anyone telling me in advance what is supposed to happen.

Did I miss those voices? Sure.

Did I get my dose of social media afterwards? Sure.

Did I lose my voice again? No.

I still get influenced by those other voices, but I am much more careful with accepting them. I filter the heck out of everything I hear. That doesn’t mean that I am living in the forest or that I think social media is the devil, not at all, but I know the difference between my voice and the voice of those who are unintentionally harming me with their ideas.

I challenge you to go through a 12 day detox.

I dare you.

But before you go, keep in mind that social media makes it easier to meet people that you can form beautiful friendships with, so find me on Twitter and Instagram.

Tanja

p.s. – If you need any ideas on how to take better care of yourself, I wrote a post a while ago with a few self care ideas. You can read it right here.