Choosing to go vegan or vegetarian can be very personal, especially when the choice is made over the protection of animals and the environment. This subject gets more complicated when you are parenting because it can become an ethical concern when you prohibit what your children do and do not eat, or at least that is how some people see it. Others are of the mind that it is always a parent’s prerogative to choose what their children eat.
One mother is facing this dilemma with her own daughter, age 8, who has recently begun eating meat after being raised vegan. The mom seems upset because it was her ex-husband who fed the meat to their daughter. He also did not mention this dietary change at all. The mom found out about it because one evening, around dinner time, her daughter had a meltdown over not getting to eat chicken nuggets.
The mom explained in a Reddit post that her daughter was in the car on the way home from her dad’s when she started crying and screaming over wanting chicken nuggets. The child’s mom offered her vegan options instead, but she had her heart set on the meat. Finally, after calming down, the daughter asked her mom if she would hate her for not being vegan, to which the mom responded: No, of course not.
The vegan mom posted her story to an online forum to find out if she was in the wrong for being furious with her ex-husband for feeding their daughter chicken nuggets and for forcing her daughter to remain vegan until she is old enough to choose and prepare her food. Keep reading to see what others had to say about this predicament.
After finding out what her daughter was eating, the vegan mother was furious. She wrote in her post on Reddit: “I wasn’t aware our hitherto vegan daughter was now eating meat and I feel like that’s a decision that I should have been informed about. I called him after she went to bed and he told me I was being uptight and he didn’t tell me because he knew I’d overreact. I’m controlling and I don’t need to be privy to every single thing he does when our daughter is with him.”
Reddit users commented their opinions on the mother’s post. One person wrote, “Clearly, she wants to eat meat and she’s old enough to make her own decisions (to some extent) in regards to what she wants to eat. When she’s older and can comprehend more fully the nuances of the issue, she may choose to go back to veganism, or vegetarianism, etc. or maybe she won’t.”
They continued, “But she’s an individual, not property, and she should be allowed to make some decisions for herself. I think you could choose to continue feeding her vegan food when she is with you because you are not ethically comfortable preparing or purchasing it but be prepared she may not understand that and be somewhat resentful.”
Some other people were on the mom’s side of the disagreement. “If the kid wants to eat meat and is now doing so he absolutely is wrong for not telling the other parent! Sure the mom clearly would’ve been upset, but it seems way more about the hypocritical nature of how controlling he used to be about vegan food rather than her being mad about her daughter eating meat,” another comment read.
Many of the comments suggested that a vegan diet is not right for a child, but that doesn’t seem to be completely true. According to pediatric dietitian Katie Nowacki, RD, a vegan diet can be healthy for kids, but you have to make a few modifications. “You want to make sure your children are getting all the vitamins and nutrients their growing bodies require,” said Nowacki to Cleveland Clinic’s Health Essentials.
Nowacki made it clear that protein is the primary concern when children are following a vegan diet. She said, “When a child follows a vegetarian or vegan diet, it is important to ensure adequate protein intake, as protein from plants is not absorbed as easily. Protein is also essential to make sure your child reaches his or her full height potential.”
There are some social concerns with the diet as well. “Some children may have feelings of separation when they eat differently than their peers,” Nowacki says. “Also, following a restrictive or highly specialized diet may lead to restrictive eating behaviors later in life.” She recommends speaking about any concerns with your pediatrician or a pediatric dietitian.
Overall, Nowacki said that vegan and vegetarian diets are not wrong for children; they just require extra work to make sure that the kids are getting the right amount of protein and nutrients, including vitamin B12, iron, zinc, and calcium. The specialist recommends dietary supplements if there is concern over vitamin deficiencies. “No matter what diet you follow, it is vital to have a balanced diet,” she explained.
What do you think about this vegan mom’s situation? Is she in the wrong for getting upset that her daughter wants chicken nuggets? Let us know your opinion, and feel free to pass this on to your loved ones.