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, high raw 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 into the health side of things. The more I learnt 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.
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.
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.
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.
What have been your experiences with your children or significant other? Which approach works best? Let us know in the comments below.
About the Author
Rebecca 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.
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