I have a beautiful (almost) 5-year old niece that I adore.
She is smart, funny and confident. She is everything every child should be. Watching her grow and learn about the world is one of the things that gets me up in the morning.
Since I am an aunt and do my share of parenting with her, I take the responsibility to teach her good values very seriously. I am constantly in the teacher-mode. I want her to grow up with a mind that is curious, open and with a heart that bursts with compassion.
Her parents are far from being vegan, but as she does spend plenty of time with me and her grandpa (my dad, obviously), she is very much aware of the fact that we do things a bit differently.
Knowing that everything we say to her and teach her about is a seed that is being planted, makes the time we spend together even more valuable. We want her to grow up with the knowledge that there is another way of living and when she is old enough to think for herself, she will know she can choose to be vegan.
Here are 5 ways you too can introduce vegan values to your kids:
- Read vegan-friendly books to them and discuss the storyline. I bought Naja (Na-ya) her first book with a vegan message by Ruby Roth when she was 2 years old and I read it to her all the time. As we both love books and going to the library together, I make sure that the ones she chooses are about compassion and equality. Kids learn through stories (heck, we all learn through stories) and I want to make sure they are positive.
- Use the word vegan when necessary, for example when buying candy. Don’t be annoying and push it on them, but do make sure you say: Hey how about we try this new candy that is vegan? It’s not pushy but it lets them know that they are a bit different – and when they taste them, the difference disappears and all they remember is that candy is candy, it’s all delicious. Btw, have you tried these gummy bears? They are so good!
- Be mindful of the songs they listen to. Naja loves to sing and dance and when we jump around and sing out loud in the living room, we go through a bunch of kids songs that are about bunnies and sunshine and chickens. But there is one song about a hunter that is about to kill a fox. Needless to say, I make sure to always skip this one and spare her the knowledge that some people hunt other animals for fun.
- Teach them about the animal kingdom, evolution and equality. By that what I mean is, teach them that they are an animal. We are so fucking afraid of telling kids that they are animals because we have been brought up thinking that it is humans vs animals and that we are nothing like those dirty wild beasts. But we are. We are as much of an animal as pigs and fish are, and Naja knows that. Here is a fun little anecdote: Whenever we see a snail or a ladybug, I say: Oh wow, what a beautiful animal, just like you and me. And then she would say: Yes, we are all animals and we will all die. When we go to the cemetery we often talk about people who die and are buried that’s why she says that. Nothing morbid, I promise, but enough to let her know that death is a part of every animal’s life.
- Does your kid love to watch cartoons and animated movies? My niece does and I always search for fun informative shows that portray other animals in a good and kind way. This is so much easier now that she speaks English – not fluently, but I have been speaking English to her since she was a baby and she is extremely good at it – and we have millions of movies and cartoons to watch. There is a lot of dangerous and disgusting shit on the internet so always watch what they watch to protect them from predators.
I truly hope you found these five tips helpful and that you got an idea or two for how you will introduce vegan values to kids.
We are all parents of kids we are surrounded with. You don’t have to make them to be responsible for who they grow up into. I should know; I practically raised my two younger sisters because my mother wasn’t competent and my father was absent.
Now that I have yet another child I can help raise, I know I can do it even better. I am not a 9-year-old girl anymore that was forced to be a parent, now I am doing it willingly and I am happy about it. I’ve been practising for almost 2 decades!
If you want to learn about more ways on how to talk to kids about veganism, please read this post here where I share even more tips.