In the fog of sleep deprivation, I might forget to tell my daughter some important things, so here is why we are raising her as a vegan baby.
To my vegan baby daughter.
You were a loving conversation before you ever existed. One that made my heart change tempo and, eventually, my body grow. Through all the nausea-filled days and when tiredness tempted me back to bed, knowing you were happy, safe and well-nourished kept me going. Even in the face of the closed-mindedness that we’ve dealt with along the way.
We’re raising you vegan. In fact, you have been vegan since conception. I may have supplemented our normally healthy lifestyle with a few tubs of plant-based Ben & Jerry’s, maybe a Pizza Hut or two and I definitely drank your birth weight in hot sauce, but I never strayed from the path of consciousness, despite pressure to.
From concerned family members to sweet midwives and everyone in between, our decision to grow and raise you as a vegan baby was challenged. Now that you’re almost 18 months old, you’re starting to understand why we don’t live the same way as other people.
We wanted to give you choice, within a loving and compassionate framework. We don’t see the way we live as taking options away from you, we are just letting you choose to experience them if and when you want to. When you’re old enough to fully understand how things are made, where they come from and the impact they have, they are yours to enjoy or reject. We want to raise you so that you have a burning desire to make a meaningful impact on the world, while leaving the gentlest of footprints. That’s why we know that not exposing you to the world of animal products isn’t a deficit — it’s a gift.
You’ll never know the guilt of having eaten meat before finding your way to veganism. You’ll never regret the clothes you wore that cost an animal its life. All you’ll remember are our experimental lentil dishes, attempts at homemade tofu and my (awful) sewing endeavours. Of course, you’ll also know that animals — all animals — are our friends and worthy of a life that is their own.
When you look at Boo Boo — your doggy big sister — you see a playmate, a nap pillow and your first big kiss of the day. You don’t see a possession or a lesser being. Your eyes sparkle when you call for her and she comes running to you with a keenness to please that she used to reserve for us old people. You’re friends and siblings, joined by a mutual tolerance and love for each other, as well as a willingness to share your food. Even when it’s chickpeas.
In the future, you’ll go to school, make friends and start understanding other influences. Perhaps you’ll be unchanged by these huge milestones or maybe you’ll yearn to know more. It’s your choice. We will love and support you through any and every journey you make, if you let us. If you are determined to eat meat, then we can talk it through and find a way to make that work. If you want to wear leather, we will have that conversation too. Nothing is off the table bubba, as long as you are old enough to explain why it’s so important to you and patient enough to hear why we disagree.
You aren’t even two yet but you are your own person. You have preferences, bugbears and wow, you can give a stranger a furrowed brow with the best of them, but you trust us. We know that you do and we hope you continue to. We’ll never lie to you (the Santa issue is a whole other thing, but we’ve got a plan!), we’ll always extend you the courtesy of open conversation, and most of all, we’ll always love you.
We live the way we do because we put love and empathy at the centre of our existence, and now you’re part of our family, we have found unlimited reserves of both.
Thank you little vegan bunny. Now please, I’m begging you, go to bed!
Your ever-loving (but very tired) mum.