Sunday, October 24, 2010

2 Vegans, 1 Vegan Nugget, 2 Omnivores. Oh, The Challenges

As you can see, I have been twittering lately (a lot actually), and one of my new twitter friends asked me how it was raising kids vegan (a reply that could not be made in 140 or less).  I got to thinking about the challenges that lay ahead, not just with me, but for my kids, and how this can be realized with my family.  It is hard enough feeding yourself, and your spouse.  Now throw in a 10 month old baby (the vegan nugget),.. although in all fairness, he is the least crabby vegan of the bunch.  He takes it like a baby.  

Now factor in two kids from my last marriage (which is funny to say, because my wife informs me that this in fact is my "last" marriage. but, i digress), who question me on a nightly basis why i cant drink milk, why i cant eat meat, eggs, etc. "C'mon dad, just stop being a vegan".  I have a grandfather who keeps offering to take my older son out for steak and ribs (ok, its a bonding thing. now that i'm out of the way, grandpa and grandchildren can go out and gang up against the herbivore). I also have a grandmother who threatens to feed the baby meatballs, or other things to fatten him up (you should see him, he isn't lacking for meatballs).  Trust me, you can fatten up on vegan food. I discovered they have the word "cupcakes" in the vegan dictionary.  My friends are probably the least of the problem, but then they only harass me in the moment, when out at restaurants when I am invariably ordering a modified baked potato and a salad.  I assure them, this is not my standard meal. It is hard to tell someone what a vegan eats, without using funny words (seitan, tempeh, tofu; yes tofu is a funny word). It comes with the territory though, I can handle it.

So I thought the issue with the big kids was manageable, but as we proceed on this adventure, we still find ourselves buying and making non-vegan meals, and although I'm still OK with it, I foresee a time in the not so distant future, that I wont be.  Its not so much why I'm doing it, but if it is really worth it?  Is it really all about the food?  If so, than I could happily buy milk, meat, eggs and such, and just make them for the kids.  If it were just about the food, then I could eat a little meat, drink a little milk and all would be good.  Is that really the case?

Family gatherings are going to become (already are) increasingly challenging.  Can I remain a "Dont ask, Dont tell" vegan?  My mother-in-law is a great cook, and is enormously generous. Do I really want to start looking into what she puts in her pasta?  Lets not even get into the sauce (figuratively speaking).  Abstaining from meatballs, does not veganize the meal.  Will that be good enough?  Am I on the cusp of becoming a royal pain in the ass?  I'm reminded of a line I heard on the "Last Comic Standing".  "I'm a vegan, which is basically a vegetarian, only more annoying".  Can I be a vegan without annoying the crap out of my friends and family?  Can I do it without alienating them? (i see to be all questions and few answers this time)

I have a great quote from a comment left on one of my earlier blog entries, where I was enumerating my cheats.  Its from my awesome friend Celery In The City. She stated:

You don't owe anyone anything. If you want to change that list, change it. But don't do it because you're not 'vegan' enough. There's no such thing.

I love that! I need to print that out, and leave it on my desk and read it every day to ground me.


  1. Hey, you haven't been vegan that long. Be patient with yourself. If you are anything like me (doubtful, because people go vegan in millions of ways for millions of reasons), after a while, it will be about more than the food, and you really will have to go 100%. Hubby and I went vegan extremely gradually and so eased our extended family into it. Sure, they are somewhat exasperated, but they are respectful. We cook our own food at family gatherings, and if anyone is offended, they don't let on. We've always been clear and kind about our reasons. They know that if they come to visit, they will have to eat vegan or eat out.

  2. Buddy! I didn't know you had all of these children. You're like a dad? That's cool.

    I wouldn't think too much about how other people are reacting to your vegan choices. I've always thought of it this way...if I just wasn't in the mood for a burger one night and chose to eat a salad, would anyone comment? Probably not. Each meal is just a single choice amongst 30683096 other choices you're going to make in a day.

  3. rachel, thanks for the comment. its true, i'm new at it, but i tend to jump into to things, and the then obsess. its my tendency, but your points are excellent. the families will adjust as we do.

    cel, yes, i am a man of many facets :) i think its the vegan label that just freaks people out. and if i just desist from even using that term, i'm sure things will go easier, but then i do love being labeled, so i create a lot of this tension myself.

    if i was altogether normal, i probably would not be blogging :)

  4. Celery in the city is right. I need to follow her advice too. It is so great that your wife is vegan too, I'm sure that helps a lot. Your older kids will eventually stop asking you why you don't eat meat and other animal products. It takes time, they are trying to make sense of it in their own heads so they keep asking the same questions. I went through that with my 7 year old and now a year later he doesn't ask anymore.

  5. hi neven, yes, she started it by first giving up meat early this year. she is training in yoga, and so i was getting the 2nd hand experience. i jumped in mainly to be supportive, but i had no idea how deep the water was :)

  6. My friends have come around and even cook vegan meals when they invite us over now. It rocks! Mainly because it's one night I don't have to cook!

    I do have family members that aren't on board and even argue with me that I'm harming my children by taking all animal protein out of their diet. I've gotten to the point where I just shrug my shoulders and say, "Well, you're definitely allowed to have your opinion, but I've done the research and we've all decided this is how we want to live, and eat."

    I never worry about being a pain. From day one, 13 months ago, I was just completely upfront about the choice we made. I can be bitchy, maybe they're just afraid, LOL.