How to Raise Vegan Children (With a Non-Vegan Partner)

by Guest
Jan 15, 2016
young blonde girl with orange and brown hat standing in front of a wooden house

I am Rebecca Kinderman, founder of Rawfully Wholesome, wife and mother of two girls, Caprice, 2, and Haven, 5 months. I feel very honored to share a little about our lifestyle and how I raise a happy, healthy, vegan family.

I became a vegan 6 years ago, after reading Alicia Silverstone’s book, “The Kind Diet”. I had been wanting to try going vegetarian for a while because I didn’t enjoy eating meat, and never felt like I was thriving, but I was completely uneducated and had NO idea how to even get started.

After seeing Alicia talking about her book on Oprah, I ordered one instantly. When I received the book, I read cover to cover in one night. 

The information on the health issues, caused by animal products, and the exploitation of animals by consuming their products, shook me to my core, and I went vegan, cold turkey, the next day.

I had no desire, after that night, to eat another animal product again. Over the past 6 years, I have been on a journey and my diet has evolved a lot. I’ve finally found, what I believe, is the most healthful way to eat, and my family and I are thriving, on a high carb, low fat vegan diet.

From Junk to Health Food

I wasn’t always a perfectly healthy vegan. There is plenty of vegan junk, and I was consuming it regularly until I actually started doing my own research on the health side of things. The more I learned about health and nutrition (including studying my degree in health science), it was an absolute no-brainer that I wanted to marry a vegan and raise my children vegan.

Then came along my husband. Handsome, charismatic, funny, a gentleman and so cute-to-boot! But, he wasn’t a vegan. He still isn’t, but has he changed and evolved? Absolutely. The key isn’t to try to change your significant other. Be the example, educate them, and let them discover it for themselves, in their OWN time.

I never pushed my husband into eating the way he does now – if I had, he would have pushed away from me even more. It’s important to LOVE your partner where they’re at, whether you agree with their choices or not. Veganism is about compassion. Not just toward animals but everything.

There is nothing worse than a vegan who breathes down your throat, telling you what you are doing is wrong, and making you feel guilty for your choices. That’s not going to make someone want to learn more about your way of living.

But when people see you living a happy, compassionate life and loving unconditionally, they will want to follow. Maybe not completely, but, again, be the example.

family of four with two young girls standing in front of palm trees and a lake

How to Deal With Family Who Aren’t Vegan

So back to my family. My husband, Jonathan, had a pretty unhealthy diet when we first met. He lived mostly on meat, processed and packet foods, spinach, apples and avocado. Who could blame him though? He didn’t know any different; he only knew how he was raised.

If I’d never educated myself, and gone looking for “something else”, I would have been eating quite the same as him, and be none-the-wiser. So how did I get him to change? Well, I didn’t “get” him to do anything. I let him discover it himself. At home, I only cooked healthy, clean, vegan meals that could have meat added to it.

In the early days, he would still add cheese to things as well. I didn’t ever keep dairy milk in the house, so he would buy dairy milk lattes, but would drink almond milk at home in smoothies. Eventually, cow’s milk made him sick and he switched to almond milk lattes.

Now he asks for no cheese on things and basically, never eats dairy. Why? Because he got educated. I would never push information onto him and make him feel bad for what he was doing, but I ALWAYS shared information with him, and now, he reads and educates himself as well.

Eventually, his mind decided to eat less and less dairy, and his body felt better and better for it, and that made him not want it anymore. I truly believe you cannot push someone into anything. They need to come around in their own time.

And guess what? They may never COMPLETELY come around. But you can still love them and praise how far they’ve come. Jonathan isn’t completely vegan, but he basically only eats seafood. This was a natural progression that he has made, on his own, through my education, his own education, and responding to what makes him feel his best.

Raising Your Children Vegan

So how do we raise our children vegan? Well, the one thing I have been pretty adamant about, is this: while I’m the one who reads constantly and is always educating myself on all things health and nutrition, I want to be the one who chooses how our children eat – because I’m the one who knows more about it all.

I always knew I wanted to raise my kids vegan, and thankfully, I have an extremely supportive hubby, who not only agreed, but is on board, whole-heartedly, and wants to raise our girls this way, as well. He will be the first to tell you, just how much he has learned over the last 3 and half years we’ve been together, and he is also the first to stop somebody handing our toddler something she’s not allowed to eat.

Raising our girls vegan, is a pretty special and unique experience. Here I am, completely responsible for this little life, and perfect little body. The last thing I want to do is put anything in that perfect little body, to damage her cells or ANY part of her.

But that’s just how we, as parents, feel. It’s not always THAT easy, though, raising up little vegans, in a world FULL of nasty, junky crap. For the most part, our two year old only knows what she knows. Which is healthful, life-giving food.

young girl with blonde curls sitting on a table and eating fruit out of a bowl

Teaching to Make the Right Decisions

But she has been exposed to processed food, like chips and crackers, when we’ve been in social settings, and that has been the hardest battle – why she can’t eat that food when others can. I will admit that we have given in and she has had corn chips and lentil chips before.

But what is most scary about that? She LOVED them too much and wouldn’t eat anything I had brought for her. So, now, we are extremely careful and don’t give her any. Again, it comes back to education. It has only been in the last 4 months that it has felt challenging.

Maybe it’s because our friends in Australia aren’t as health-conscious as our friends are back in California? But she has definitely been exposed to a lot more junk here. So how I handle it, is this: all week, I am talking with her. I’m teaching her why we eat certain things, and why we don’t eat other things.

I praise her for eating her food and tell her how healthy she is, and how it will make her big and strong (and she proceeds to flex and show me her muscles). She helps me make her food, and we are constantly talking about what we’re making and doing, while we do it.

If you are wanting to switch your kids to a vegan lifestyle, the best advice I can give is to sit down with your kids and explain why you want to do it. The health reasons, and for the animals, should be just as important as each other. It’s extremely important to talk openly and honestly about what goes into our food, as well as how that meat and dairy, ends up on our plate.

Don’t be afraid to expose them to the truth. That way, they will be able to make an EDUCATED decision for themselves one day. Get them involved in helping prepare food, and keep it fun and exciting – and of course, tasty!

While our girls are young and in our care, it is our responsibility to nourish them, and raise them as best we can, and to instill good core values in them. When they are old enough, to make their own decisions, they might turn around and eat something we would never allow them to have.

And we will have to accept that and deal with it when that time comes. But for now, our responsibility as parents is to teach compassion, educate them, and treat their bodies as temples, because they rely on us, to do so.

two small children lying in a crib and the older one kissing the younger one on the forehead

Dealing With Criticism

Will everybody accept your choices? Definitely not. We have had our fair share of criticism, from people close to us, who disagree with the way we are raising our babies, but at the end of the day, they are our children, and we are doing what we feel is best, and what works for us.

Those who cannot accept and respect our choices, therefore making it difficult for us to trust our children in their care, unfortunately, don’t get to have alone time without us around. Always be strong in your convictions, but come from a place of love.

This is often easier said than done, especially when you’re facing criticism and being attacked. If anyone knows what this is like, it’s me. But continue doing what you know is right for you and your family, and choose to surround yourself with those who SUPPORT your choices, and even better, those who are likeminded and on the same page.

Some fantastic books to read to your children about being vegan and living compassionately are V is for Vegan, Vegan Is Love, That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals and Milk and Cookie A Little Spooky.

What have been your experiences with your children or significant other? Have you inspired them to go vegan? Which approach works best? Let us know in the comments below.

Rebecca Kinderman is the founder of Rawfully Wholesome has been a passionate vegan for 6 years. She discovered the raw food lifestyle, 5 years ago, and has continued evolving and has made it her life’s mission, to educate as many people as she can reach, on the incredible benefits of eating a whole foods, high raw, plant-based diet.
She is a devoted wife and mother of two girls (Caprice, 2 years and Haven, 5 months), who are the driving force behind why she is so passionate about sharing this incredible lifestyle with others.
You can follow her on FacebookInstagram or watch her YouTube channel.

21 thoughts on “How to Raise Vegan Children (With a Non-Vegan Partner)”

  1. Love this! I am vegan and my husband is not (outside of the home). We’re trying to get pregnant soon and I know he will support me in raising our children vegan but I am worried about other people. There is NO ONE in our lives that is veg and everyone always has an excuse when I offer just a little bit of information…even after they ask, ha! Ridiculous but reading articles like this is comforting. Thank you!

  2. Hello, I loved this! it was exactly what I needed to read, I have been plant based for 5 months and my husband isnt. Our son is a picky junk food kid, sad and hard to admit. I am in control of the food that is bought and yet I still let them eat unhealthy food. But thanks to you, I will only offer the healthiest foods and wont guilt my husband into anything. I have been guilty of that, even though hes been 100% supportive of me.
    Thank you so much!!

  3. I am so glad I stumbled across this site. My husband and I have just switched to plant based diets and whilst it is not so hard for us I am in turmoil over my kids – I’m a physician myself and somehow in my medical training I have been brain washed to believe that children need proteins, calcium and iron for growth and it is hard to accomplish on vegan diets. I tried them on 100% plant based diets for 2 weeks then switched back (mainly because of fears of growth stunting with soy milk) and some pediatricians who claim that high fiber diets are not suitable for kids because their guts cannot absorb the nutrients – my boy is 6 years old and has food allergies so is skinny anyway, and it is a very confusing time! Thank you for your work and sharing the love.

  4. I had a question…if your husband eats meat, do you think your children will view him differently when their older? Wonder why he supports the mutilation of animals? Or What if he is eating meat and one child wants to eat it too so he or she can be just like the dad?

    I would love your thoughts as i am dating a meat eater and would consider myself an activist vegan. These thoughts cross my mind…

  5. A friend of mine is interested in becoming vegan. She’s trying to decide what to do about milk for her 1 year old. Her pediatrician is pushing whole cow’s milk. Any vegan suggestions? Is almond milk sufficient?

  6. Thank you, Alena! I really appreciated your article. I too, decided to become vegan overnight June 2017 when I discovered the truth about our health, the animals and the environment. I thought I was living a nutritious lifestyle and raising healthy children. After watching the documentaries you mentioned above and continuing my research on living a whole foods/plant based diet, I realized I needed to make a change that I do not regret. I live in a very ‘meat and potato’ rural community in Montana and as of right now, I dont know anyone that is vegan or even vegetarian in my town. I’m very lucky to have a partner that supports me in whatever I do, and your comments to love your husband where he is helps me with my own attitude with my husband. My two kids are older (my son is 17 and my daughter is 11), and I am constantly trying to educate them on their choices. But, my son has his own job and his own money. He loves to cook his own meals, but they are definitely not something I would eat as a vegan. My daughter has stated she is vegetarian, but has a hard time giving up the cheese and can’t go all the way as to become a vegan (I’ll take what I can). I encourage both my kids to do their own research on nutrition and make their own lunches for school. My son has mentioned that after he graduates army boot camp, he might become vegan. At least he is thinking about it…..
    I just wanted to send a little note to let you know how encouraging your words were. I will continue with the journey, knowing in my heart it is right and love the people around me without judgment.
    May you and your family be blessed this coming year!

    • Hi Hayley,
      thanks so much for the comment! Actually, I didn’t write the article – it was a guest blogger, Rebecca, as you can see in the bio below the article :) We’re happy she shared a little bit about her family! It’s just me who replies to all the comments here, haha.
      Sounds great how you’re dealing with your family… as long as you’re strong in your own belief, what others do won’t bother you too much or jeopardize your success. Here’s another awesome guest post on our blog about a woman who’s transitioned her family to a plant-based diet with kids around the age of yours:
      Wishing you a wonderful weekend and upcoming year!

  7. I’ve managed to convince my girlfriend to cut out processed meat, but she says she will still eat chicken and have the occasional beef. I was careful that I didn’t criticise her for this because I was happy she agreed to cut out processed meat.

    My issue isn’t actually with her, it’s her opinion on how we raise our son. She seems adamant that she wants him to still have some meat in his diet. This is frustrating because no matter how many times I tell her we don’t need meat, she doesn’t seem to believe me.

    Can there be a compromise on this? Do I just have to accept that my son will have some meat in his diet? Do I let him decide on his own when he’s older? Or do I need to put my foot down?

    Sorry for so many questions. My son isn’t even here yet and I’m constantly feeling stressed about how to approach this. Thank you,

    • Hey Jay,
      thanks for reaching out! Seems like a tough situation you’re in, sorry to hear that. It’s a good sign that your girlfriend is willing to make a few changes for now – maybe she’ll recognize that she feels better one day and is happy to go further. If your son isn’t born yet, you still have some time. He won’t be fed meat for at least a couple of months after being born.
      Have you guys watched a documentary such as Forks Over Knives or What The Health together? Would she listen to articles? This one is good:
      I also liked the information in this video:
      Ultimately, you need to let your son decide for himself at some point.
      I don’t know enough about your relationship with your girlfriend to comment on this, I guess… but why not let the person who’s better educated on nutrition decide what you feed your child? Be the one who really knows it all. Show that health professionals (like Dr. Klaper, Dr. Greger & more) suggest plant-based vegan diets for kids.
      Hope this helps for now! Check out Facebook groups for more support.

    • Let your child make their own decision as an adult. Do not push your beliefs on a child out of guilt and shame, it is manipulative. You are better than that.

  8. I am nearly vegan, still wrestling with eggs and honey(I’m transitioning very slowly). I have been vegetarian for 3 years and been working on other foods and products ever since, My husband (Six years together this August <3 <3 )is not interested in taking any animal product out of his diet, he LOVES veggies though so that's a huge win. We do grocery shopping together so he gets whatever he wants for the week. We are still working through certain things like cooking. When I first went vegetarian I was working and in school so if I made food, I made it how I wanted. We agreed in the beginning of our marriage that if there was a time someone worked out of the home and the other was at home more, the person at home would do the majority of the house work and cooking. Now I stay at home with our son while my husband goes to work. I will cook him things with meat or dairy in them even though it totally grosses me out, because its a way my husband feels respected and loved. A lot of vegans criticize me for this saying Im not vegan enough, but hey, I have to do what works for my family and realistically these food conversations, for us, happen very slowly over the course of years. My son will eat what I prepare when we are home and I will teach him about where meat and dairy comes from, but he will most likely always have animal products offered to him and if he chooses to eat chicken for dinner with dad than that's fine with me. If my husband was on board with our son being vegan I would approach the situation differently, but my husband is not comfortable, so I will respect that and continue to prepare delicious healthy vegan meals and share more information on why I feed our son vegan the rest of the time. Maybe my husband will be on board on day, but maybe not.

  9. I want to start preparing more vegan meals. I have 3 small kids (5 and under) and I have tried before, but I find most of the meals to be extremely labor intensive. What’s your favorite resource for EASY to prepare vegan meals?

  10. Thanks for the article! I felt kinda confused about how it would go if I’m vegan and my partner is non-vegan and if we did end up ever getting married.. then what? I mean I want to raise my kids vegan. But now I feel like it is possible, I mean especially if he doesn’t really care much other than if they’re eating junk.


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