Here’s where things get a bit more tricky! It’s all very well living your own vegan life. You only have to worry about you. But now you have another human being to consider. Will they thank you for raising them as a vegan? Is it fair for you to impose your beliefs on them? Is it ethical to raise a child vegan? Let’s find out …
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Is It Ethical To Raise a Child Vegan?
Yes it is ethical to raise a vegan child. As long as you are fully aware of the nutritional needs of your growing offspring and you ensure they consume a healthy, balanced diet which includes supplements if needs be. Vitamin D, B12 and Omega 3’s are important.
The definition of ‘ethical’ according to Dictionary.com is:
“pertaining to or dealing with morals or the principles of morality; pertaining to right and wrong in conduct.”
So there’s quite a large subjective element to what we consider to be ethical. One person’s right or wrong could be very different to the next person’s.
Many people think it’s perfectly fine to raise animals and kill them for food. Others think this behaviour is abhorrent. You can probably guess which side of the fence I’m on!
However, there are some things decent people can all agree on when it comes to ethical matters. The killing of another human being is the most obvious. Treating others without prejudice is another.
Raising a child as a vegan, on the other hand, is one of those topics that really annoys many non-vegans. These people definitely don’t think that is an ethical way to carry on.
The child doesn’t have any input into how their parents or carers bring them up. They are at the mercy of the adult’s beliefs and actions.
This is true for all children until they get to an age where they’re informed enough to start making their own decisions about what they want to eat, among other things.
For the record, our darling daughter is now at that age and she’s a clever, thoughtful person with some very well formed opinions. She is adamant that veganism is something she will take with her into adult life.
She says the thought of eating animal flesh or drinking dairy milk disgusts her. There’s a chance she’s saying that to keep us happy but I don’t think that’s the case.
We pay close attention to her nutrition and she is known among her friends to always have the best school packed lunches in town! She is growing up to be a healthy, slim and happy young woman who is comfortable in her skin and performing exceptionally well at school.
She certainly doesn’t show any signs of deficiency. Quite the opposite actually.
As far as her diet goes and from an ethical stance, I have absolutely no qualms whatsoever about bringing her up the way we are.
A plant based diet can be lacking in vitamin B12 and D along with Omega 3’s so vegan parenting does require you to become a bit of an amateur nutritionist. A growing human body needs the correct nutrition. But then this is true whether you’re vegan or not.
… and in fact, many non-vegans raise dangerously unhealthy kids. Just look at the obesity epidemic sweeping our ‘civilised’ Western world.
Is It Ethical To Raise An Obese Child?
One could easily argue that feeding your child so much junk food to the point they become obese is about as unethical as it gets.
I feel so sorry for these kids whose parents have never been taught about the value of proper nutrition. It’s a multi-generational problem now.
We have ignorance teaching ignorance … and look at the results.
Whatever happened to the idea of “let food be thy medicine”?
How did we arrive at a point in our evolution where it’s considered a ‘treat’ to take your kids to McDonalds for a happy meal?
Some children almost live on that kind of food because their parents are so busy that they don’t have time to prepare a decent meal in the evening.
Our modern way of life is storing up many problems for our children down the line.
Obesity is just one of them!
I do find it interesting that we seem to have arrived at a place where if someone raises an obese child, no-one bats an eyelid but if you raise a vegan child, everyone loses their mind!
Children Instinctively Reject Animal Flesh
There are lots and lots of videos online of young children being confronted with the realities of what’s on the dinner plate in front of them.
You can see it on their innocent little faces. That horrific moment of realisation when they understand the reddish-brown, slightly chewy stuff on their plate was actually a living, breathing creature once.
The same sort of creature which they see every day in their story books, gambolling around in the fields without a care in the world. Life on the idyllic family farm.
Many of the kids in these videos get really quite upset and flatly refuse to eat that lump of dead animal, now they know the truth. Sound like someone you know?
Out of the mouths of babes …
Children have an innate sense of morality and an in-built ethical code. As adults, we learn to override that. Vegans are acknowledging this childhood morality. It’s what they know to be true, in their hearts.
For vegans, to raise a child in any other way would be unethical … on more than one level.
Some Label Veganism As Child Abuse!
There is quite a large contingent in the public sphere who consider you to be abusing your child if you raise them on a vegan diet.
Of this group, a vocal minority can get very hot under the collar and would like to see you locked up for your actions!
While this view is more at the extreme end of the spectrum, there are many people who have some sympathy with it. The word ‘vegan’ has a lot of baggage attached to it these days and knee-jerk reactions are common.
I believe raising your child as a vegan is more ethical than pumping them full of highly processed junk and making them overweight with all the problems arising from that.
Diseases of the Western world (primarily) are closely tied to our diets. When our populations lose the skills to prepare fresh food at home and end up relying on takeaways or ready-meals, the kids suffer.
In my mind, if you want to look at child abuse then look in that direction. Is it fair on our kids to feed them so many empty calories and watch them become obese?
I think I’ve made my point.
Most vegans, on the other hand, are conscious of the food we put in our bodies … and especially our kids’ bodies. We kind of have to be. It comes with the territory.
I’m sure many vegans have had a crisis of conscience when considering their child’s development. The years of conditioning from the meat and dairy industries are hard to overcome and you’ve always got that niggling little thought in the back of your mind …
“Are we doing the right thing?”
Looking at our wonderful daughter, I’m happy to be able to answer yes to that question.
Is It Ethical To Raise a Non-Vegan Child?
Veganism is all about ethics, morality, compassion and empathy. So the question posed in the title of this post is pretty much moot to a vegan.
It would not be ethical to raise a child in any other way for most of those following the vegan lifestyle.
I’d argue it’s unethical to raise a child without being very aware of their nutritional needs. A growing body does need a bit more protein than a fully grown one, for example.
You don’t need meat to get that protein in your diet though.
By this measure, half of the Western world are raising their kids unethically!
So let’s not go down that road. Ethics are a personal and subjective thing.
It’s been proven a well balanced vegan diet is perfectly acceptable to nourish a young human. So on this front, yes it is perfectly ethical, in my mind, to raise a child as a vegan.
I hope you enjoyed this little ditty. The opinions are all my own and anything medically related should not be taken as advice. Always see a qualified medical professional if you have any concerns about your health or your child’s health.
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Thanks for reading!