The little vegans of today are the leaders and peace makers of tomorrow. It is so important to prepare them for their inevitable encounters with non-vegan peers. How will they react when they see a schoolmate eating a turkey and cheese sandwich after all the lessons you’ve taught them about keeping animals off the plate? Will they ridicule and embarrass their peer? Will they avoid those kids all together? My hope is that we are creating a generation of vegans who will be comfortable with open discussion; a generation who understands that although their lifestyle is not yet the majority, change happens gradually and every conversation is an opportunity to make a difference. A wonderful thing about children is that they don’t take offense to new concepts. Their minds are open little sponges, still curious and eager to learn. That being said, vegan children can make a big impression on non-vegan peers. The key is getting them comfortable discussing why they don’t eat animals.
Try having a talk with your little vegans about how fortunate they are. You might say something like: “A lot of your school-mates are not as lucky as you…they’ve never learned about how sweet a chicken is or how cuddly a cow is. Maybe if they knew, they wouldn’t want to eat them anymore…” Encouraging open discussion is a crucial part of raising young vegans. Another approach might sound something like: “You know how we can save even more animals? By helping our friends to understand what’s on their plate…I bet most of your school-mates don’t even know what they’re eating!”
You might be surprised how many families will reduce or eliminate meat consumption in the home simply because their child got the idea to stop eating it. Even if no immediate change is made, a seed of compassion has still been planted. Some might come back to the thought of veganism years later, when they can truly make their own decisions. There is absolutely nothing wrong with teaching your child a bit of activism. If the vegan movement is to continue growing, we need empowered kids who will discuss their lifestyle rather than apologize for it!