In this month’s Vegan Life Magazine, there’s an article about the fantastic Teen VGN organisation, which got me thinking about how many teenage vegans there are these days, and how many of them say they struggle with ‘full-time’ veganism due to their families being unsure about the idea.
I went vegan when I was 18, at the very end of my teenage years. Before that, I had been vegetarian for about six years. Thankfully, my parents are completely unopposed to veganism and were incredibly supportive, trying out new recipes with me and shopping for all sorts of strange things we had never heard of before. Because they were well-informed about veganism, they had no particular worries, which was great for me. Now that I’m a parent myself, however, I completely understand the inbuilt fear that you constantly feel about absolutely everything to do with your child, and I see why a parent less familiar with the vegan lifestyle might be worried and reluctant to encourage their child’s new diet. If you’re a parent with a teenager interested in veganism and you’re not sure whether or how to support them, here are five things that might be interesting to you.
1. You’ve raised a compassionate kid
First of all, if your son or daughter is expressing an interest in ethical veganism, congratulations. You’ve raised a child that is compassionate, thinks critically and cares about the impact it has others and on its surroundings. No matter what your thoughts on veganism are, you’ve clearly done pretty well on this front.
2. Veganism doesn’t equal picky eating
A lot of parents worry that veganism means their child will only eat a small range of foods, but this doesn’t have to be the case. There are so many amazing recipes on the web, and some absolutely fantastic cookbooks. If you want to get stuck in, I recommend Chloe’s Kitchen for the basics, Veganomicon if your teen seriously wants to learn to cook and Ms Cupcake for seriously indulgent baked goods.
3. Family meals can easily be adjusted
You might be worried about family dinner times, and stress about not having enough time to cook two meals, but it’s actually pretty easy to make it work. Firstly, most teenagers are completely capable of cooking their own food, and even if they’re a bit shaky in their culinary skills, explaining to them that you’re willing to support their vegan choices if they help out with their dinner can be a great compromise. If you’re of the meal-planning conviction, it’s also relatively simple to plan meals in a way that make them easy to adjust to the whole family. For instance, if you’re making a bolognese, fry your mince and the soya mince in separate pans. Make the tomato sauce in a third pan and split it between the proteins just before serving. That’s only one extra pan, and will hardly ruin your meal. You could also set specific days in the week to cook all-vegan meals!
4. No one can tell the difference between vegan and non-vegan cupcakes
Really, no one. Vegan baking isn’t difficult and tastes delicious. Making vegan versions of your family’s baked treats will result in a grateful vegan child and friends and relatives who are none the wiser.
5. It can be a fantastic bonding and conversation topic
Teenagers are difficult to converse with. I know this because I was one not so long ago. Chances are, your child is really passionate about veganism and has a lot to say about the topic, so give them a chance to articulate their thoughts and feelings to you in a non-judgemental environment. You’ll probably have some things to say about it, too. You might be surprised by how much you agree with them.
Was this post useful to you at all? Let me know if you’d like me to expand on the topic!