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Vegan Baby Charlotte Arrives!

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Vegan Baby Charlotte Arrives! by Guest BloggerJust last month, I wrote a post about my vegan pregnancy, and now my healthy baby girl, Charlotte has arrived! I’m excited for the future, despite the challenges ahead. I’m now in the next stage of thinking about raising a vegan child in a nonvegan world. I know it won’t always be easy—we’re surrounded by messages that often encourage inhumane choices—but my husband and I feel that the rewards of doing the right thing far outweigh the societal pressures of accepting the status quo.

As a parent, I hope to instill in my daughter the principle that animals are not here to be used and abused for our food, clothing, products, or entertainment. My goal is not for her to become an animal rights activist—it’s for her to develop into someone who is compassionate, doesn’t turn away from injustices, and makes conscious decisions based on how they affect others, including animals. I want her to understand the reason why she may not always be eating the same thing as the other kids in the cafeteriawhy we adopt animals rather than buy them from pet stores or breeders, and why we don’t go to the circus. I hope that she will embrace these things and be proud that she’s part of a family that is consciously choosing compassion over cruelty.

I want to foster within her the love and attraction that kids innately have toward animals. My goal is to keep the line connected—the line that society teaches us to disconnect at a young age—between the animals we cherish in our homes (dogs and cats) and the “other” animals we eat (or use for clothing, experimentation, or entertainment).

Together as a family, we will creatively deal with birthday parties, school events, holidays, and whatever else comes our way. I’m confident that I can find alternatives to the many traditional activities and crafts that involve animals or animal-derived products. We’ll bake cookies together, and it won’t matter that we substitute soy milk for cow’s milk-because after all, it’s really more about the quality time spent together. As a mother now, I especially can’t imagine supporting the cruel dairy industry, where mother cows are treated as mere milk machines and often confined to crowded lots amid their own waste. Mother cows are forcefully impregnated year after year (to produce milk for humans) only to have their babies torn away from them within minutes to hours of giving birth-females calves are destined to replace their mothers, and male calves are chained in tiny stalls and destined to become veal.

Our family will color Easter eggs, only they won’t be real eggs. Once she’s old enough to learn how much hens suffer on factory farms, I expect that she’ll be glad we’re not using real eggs. On hot summer days, we’ll cook veggie burgers on the grill and take a trip down to the East Village for coconut milk ice cream or soy ice cream at Lula’s or St?go. We’ll visit rescue sanctuaries and natural habitats where animals are respected instead of zoos and aquariums where animals are exploited for profit and entertainment. We’ll search for whales in the ocean via sightseeing boats instead of watching them turn endless circles in small, concrete pools at SeaWorld. We look forward to doing the same activities as nonvegan families—it’s just a matter of being creative and resourceful.

I truly don’t want Charlotte to feel left out or different from the other kids, but at the same time, if “fitting in” means that she will be contributing to and supporting a system that’s inherently cruel to animals, then I don’t want her to “fit in.” I want her to be a person of integrity who learns how to make choices based on her values, and as parents, our role will be to model that for her.

charlotte-124

My husband and I are truly committed to living responsibly and consciously through our relationship with animals, through our purchases, and through the activities that we choose. We want our home to be a place of compassion where our daughter can learn how to live according to her values.

Check out Ingrid E. Newkirk’s 50 Awesome Ways Kids Can Help AnimalsZoe Weil’s Above All, Be Kind, and this extensive list of humane-focused children’s books.

What about you? If you’re raising or have raised a vegan child, please share your thoughts.

This guest post was written by Robyn Moore who is the PETA Foundation’s creative copy manager. She has her master’s degree in education and is an avid traveler who has taught English in Nepal, volunteered with wildlife in South Africa, and lived abroad in Switzerland.

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    robin says...

    August 23rd, 2010, 10:23 pm

    Congratulations…and thank you for showing that bringing a child into the world should be about more than personal pleasure – that it is a decision that should involve thoughtfulness, planning ahead and wisdom. I pray for…foresee…that your beautiful child will learn early-on that choices are best made with thoughtful consideration and not by peers or the majority. And she will keep the joy of the wonderful variety of life in our world, instead of having it muffled by covetness of material things. Best of everything for your family.

    Evelyn Hannah says...

    August 24th, 2010, 6:46 pm

    Wow!!!! Great article Robyn…I truly admire what you and Martin are doing.

    Steve says...

    August 25th, 2010, 2:33 pm

    Congrats ROBYN and hubby!!!

    WELCOME CHARLOTTE -

    Zoe Weil says...

    August 25th, 2010, 10:05 pm

    Congratulations! Such a profound and hopeful post. It’s not easy raising a humane child in our culture, but there’s support out there for it, and it’s great that you’ll be part of creating that support not only for Charlotte but for other families, too. If it’s of interest, we offer an online course, Raising a Humane Child, for parents who want to explore ways to do what you’re doing (with a community of other parents all over who share these goals). The course will be offered Oct. 4-29 and you can find out more info here: http://humaneeducation.org/sections/view/raising_a_humane_child.
    Good luck with Charlotte and thanks for all you do!
    Zoe

    Nicola says...

    August 26th, 2010, 1:43 pm

    Hey Robyn,

    WOW, what and amazing piece. I think you are going to be the most amazing role model for baby C :-)

    Okay, so I you know I have given up all meet except chicken. And I also still eat cheese. It is frustrating because I react emotionally to PETA’s work yet am hypocritical because I am unable to give these two stupid vices up…it’s frustrating. I guess I sometimes think, hmm, what would I eat if there is no chicken? Where would I get my protein? Can you recommend some tips?
    I feel so disappointed with myself :-(

    Robyn Moore says...

    August 26th, 2010, 6:21 pm

    Hi Nicola- don’t beat yourself up, just try and do the best you can. Every little bit helps. When you crave chicken or cheese, just take a minute to step back and ask yourself if that temporary taste you will get is worth the lifetime of suffering that the animal has gone through. Factory farms for animals (including chickens and dairy cows) are no joke- they are confining, filthy and extremely miserable places for animals. Animals are deprived of everything natural and important to them. Chickens are arguably the most abused of all. Nowadays, there are many substitutes for chicken…have you tried the “chicken” patties and nuggets from Boca? They have grilled and breaded versions. Delish! They’re sold in most grocery stores. Also, just remember when you go to the store and choose your products, you’re voting with your dollars. So when you walk out with Boca “chicken patties” in your bag, you’re choosing compassion over cruelty…you’ll feel proud that you’re doing the right thing, and the animals also win. :)

    As far as protein, we are over-obsessed with it in this country…there actually is such a thing as too much protein. The marketing agendas of the billion-dollar meat/dairy industries have drilled this idea of PROTEIN = MEAT into all of us at a young age, having us all believe that meat is the only, and best source of protein. There are plenty of non-animal sources of protein (which are healthier too and don’t include fat, cholesterol, etc.) such as beans, tofu, tempeh, some veggies, whole grains, nuts/seeds, etc. As long as you eat a balanced diet of veggies, fruits, grains, etc. you should be healthy. Good luck with your journey, and just do the best you can… :)

    Diana Henriques says...

    August 27th, 2010, 12:29 pm

    Congratulations Robyn.
    I really enjoyed reading your post and your life values. Part of being a good parent is preparing your child to embrace the future and overcome the difficulties of the journey.
    I believe Charlotte will have a bright future ahead with you and your husband as parents.
    I wish you all the best for your family :-)

    Karl says...

    August 27th, 2010, 4:30 pm

    All the best of luck with the new addition to the family. We had our first child in October last year and even though I know it’ll be a very tough and challenging journey raising him in this non-veggie society we live in, it’ll be extremely thrilling to be able to teach and talk to him about vegan issues and get his reactions and own take on it all.

    Best of luck!

    lasya says...

    August 28th, 2010, 1:12 am

    hii….this is a very inspiring post Robyn…..cheers……i m a vegetarian by birth n we (me n my family) have been surviving without meat n still getting our proteins over the generations [:)]…..

    Breanna says...

    August 29th, 2010, 8:19 pm

    I want to raise a vegan baby too! I applaud you two for speaking out about your plans for raising Charlotte because it will inspire others to do the same and in turn make this a better and more humane world!

    Julie Bowyer says...

    August 30th, 2010, 1:57 pm

    Congratulations to you both on the birth of your beautiful baby daughter and how lucky Charlotte is to have parents with such wonderful ethical values. I have four children who are grown adults and who like us love animals dearly. If I knew then what I know now my babies would have been raised as vegan from the start so have a great life Charlotte cos’ I know you’re going to grow up with a beautiful mind, body and soul.

    Jaya Bhumitra says...

    August 31st, 2010, 7:24 pm

    @Nicola – it is a myth that you need tons of protein, and in fact too much taxes your liver and kidneys. to get a healthy amount, you can eat a variety of plant-based foods. my friend sunny who works for peta posted this funny video about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7z54lw3w1QE

    here are also some companies that make great chicken/cheese alternatives for you:

    http://www.gardein.com (the 7 grain chicken tenders are EXCELLENT)
    http://www.daiyafoods.com
    http://www.followyourheart.com

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