Stick to your guns!
Well done you guys for sticking to your principles!
If you were not born into a veg family you might be choosing to go it alone as a veg kid. Parents, friends and family can sometimes be a stumbling block when you choose to change your lifestyle and diet. Don’t feel disheartened if you encounter resistance from others. It’s perfectly natural. Stay true to your goals and stick to what feels right for YOU!
People often worry that vegetarians and vegans won’t get all the nutrients they need to stay fit and healthy. However this concern stems from a common lack of knowledge and is most easily countered by presenting the facts about plant-based nutrition. You might never reassure your loved ones that you are getting everything that your body needs, but it’s worth trying. Why not use the information on this website or in the Starter Kit to illustrate your choices? Either way, don’t let other people’s ignorance and opinions stand in the way of looking after your health and the planet. You’re not alone!
Help the grown-ups!
If you are not quite an adult yet, still living at home and vegetarian or vegan, give the grown-ups a helping hand by offering to assist in preparing separate meals for yourself. Or lend a hand with grocery shopping suggestions. It will be awesome practice for when you leave home one day. Why not suggest ways to incorporate veg foods into existing meals? For example, have veggie sausages when the rest of the family are having meat sausages and all share the same vegetables.
This ain’t no fad, man!
Some people will tease you that your choice to Go Veg! is just a phase. Pah! Sure it is, for some people, but not you. Just ignore it and remind yourself why you have made your choice. Keep the Go Veg guide somewhere handy for you to dip into, or this website, if you feel yourself losing sight of your goal; or connect with other veg kids. See the links at bottom.
If you get a chance, do a project or talk about animal suffering, or the health benefits of going veg. Explain to classmates how they can help make a difference for animals and their own health. Or you could ask a teacher if you can invite a speaker to do an assembly talk about animal issues. Try to ﬁnd other students who feel the same way as you. Support each other and you could even start a school animal-friendly club. Contact SAFE for help, ideas and resources.
You could also talk to a sympathetic teacher about doing a lesson on animal issues. If you are at high school, SAFE’s resources on battery hen farming and animal rights should be available in your library or teacher’s resources. These include lesson plans. See SAFE’s Education site Animals & Us for more details.
A time for sharing
Like most people when they feel strongly about something, it is likely that you will want to share your knowledge about the cruelty behind animal farming and the harm it does to the planet and our health. It’s perfectly normal. But don’t be surprised if your views meet with resistance, mockery and even anger in others. Without meaning to, you can make your audience feel threatened.
It’s much better to simply encourage small changes in those around you. Praise others for the achievements they accomplish, however small, and never condemn them for burying their heads in the sand. You will never know all the effects you have on the world around you.
It is great when someone says they have gone vegetarian or vegan because of you, but even when that doesn’t happen, remember that by offering an example of how you can live a compassionate lifestyle, you will affect those around you in a positive way.
Eating at a friend’s
If you’re invited to a friend’s for a meal, make sure they know in advance that you are veggie or vegan. Many people can be confused about what a veggie or vegan does and doesn’t eat, so help them be clear. This will prevent you being served chicken for instance, by those who think chicken and fish are vegetables! It can also be helpful if you offer some suggestions for what they could cook. You could even offer to bring along a dish so everyone can try it. This is a great way to promote your compassionate lifestyle. (Or you could buy something to bring, if cooking isn’t one of your talents!)
Parents do care!
If you are living with parents, you may want to show them the guidelines in the Starter Kit, so that together you can be sure you are getting all the nutrients you need from your new diet. They may also be interested in the things you’re interested in, such as finding out more about health, animal welfare, and environmental issues. There are many links to different sources of information on the Further Help page.
Dr Spock says
Famous paediatrician Dr Benjamin Spock recommended that children be raised on a vegan diet. He said:
“Children who grow up getting their nutrition from plants foods rather than meats have a tremendous health advantage. They are less likely to develop weight problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer ... I no longer recommend dairy products There was a time when cow’s milk was considered desirable. But research, along with clinical experience, has forced doctors and nutritionists to rethink this recommendation.”
Ref: Spock, B. M.D. & Parker, S.J. M.D. (1998) Dr Spock’s Baby and Child Care, 7th Ed, Pocket Books.
Introducing a plant-based diet early on will maximise benefits later. Many children react allergically to dairy products, with symptoms ranging from sniffles to indigestion, and respiratory problems including asthma. Too much dairy is also suspected of triggering juvenile diabetes.
There is a wealth of information out there on the subject of veg diets for kids – so arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible. One of the fundamental guidelines for feeding children on a veg diet is to make sure they get plenty of nutrients without over-doing the fibre. Too much fibre tends to fill a kid’s tummy before they have had all the nutrients they need.
TIP: Children need lots of calories and nutrients but they have small stomachs, so be sure to have frequent snacks!
Active for Animals (Auckland youth group for 8-12-year-olds)
Christchurch Vegetarian Youth group (for 10-18-year-olds)
Active for Animals Aotearoa (website and FB group for under 19-year-olds)
Vegetarian Society Kids’ Corner
Vegan Society NZ