First off, my friend Celeste wrote a great post about her and her husband's attempt at redefining the meaning of "milk" with less than desirable consequences.
The first paragraph of the post:
Since our eldest was young we made a conscious decision to "take back" the word milk. After contemplating it, we thought it would be good to refute the common acceptance of cow's milk taking the all-encompassing title of "milk". While this seemed like a good idea, it turned out to be unhelpful for our son.
Now go read the rest of it and then come back here.
This is something I think most vegan parents have to deal with at some point (or many points). I know that we try our hardest to give foods names with modifiers in front of them. Milk is "soy milk", "chicken" burgers are "veggie patties", and cheese is "soy cheese". Anna's pretty good about asking people if something's vegan, and if they don't know what that means then she'll clarify, since she knows (as much as a 3 1/2 year old can know) what "vegan" means.
Last night at Early Childhood Family Education she asked her teacher if the freeze-dried peas they were having for snack had cow's milk in them.
And by the way, Anna does not hesitate or feel awkward in asking questions like this. It's all matter of fact with her. The teachers tell us that she never complains about not having the food other kids eat. There was even one time when someone brought cupcakes for their kid because it was their birthday and she didn't care about not eating them because she knew they weren't vegan. Her vegan upbringing is as mundane and ordinary as anything else in her life.
That may change as she gets older, of course. But it's not going to change because of Anna or Jen or me. It's going to change because of non-vegan kids and adults making her feel embarrassed and awkward and ashamed for asking if something is vegan. Do I worry about this? Sure I do. But I'm sure I don't worry about it any more than same-sex parents worry about their kid or interracial parents worry about their kid or... You get the point.
Our job as parents isn't to follow the status quo at all costs in order to ensure that our child has an upbringing free of teasing and being ostracized. Our job is to raise our children the best way we know how and to grow them into confident adults who do what they believe to be right regardless of how others may view them.
There's a new vegan parenting blog out there called Spawn Better. The blog, run by Jason Douchette of the Better Network, utilizes the experiences and opinions of a Council of Vegan Parents, which now has over 30 members (including yours truly).
Spawn Better's recent post titled Vegan children, meaty world: dealing with overlap, is a good sampling of what the blog has to offer.
Note: Spawn Better might seem boring or possibly even annoying to non-vegans. So, warning to non-vegans, this blog really isn't for you. Unless, of course, you're considering going vegan (come on, you know you've thought about it). If you want a window into the types of things vegan parents talk about amongst themselves, then go have a read.
One more post from Spawn Better. Veganizing Children's Songs features a video of Anna at the end. She's a star now.
Finally, the post Clarifying the Meaning of a Right by Gray Francione at Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach is definately worth a read. If you're perplexed and unsure of what we're talking about when we vegans argue for animal rights, this post spells it out as clearly as I think is possible.