Ever wonder what being a Vegan mom would be like? Thinking of raising your child Vegan? I had the pleasure of getting to know Sarah Ernst after falling in love with a picture of her beautiful baby girl (who she is raising Vegan) on Instagram. Sarah discusses the joys and challenges of raising her baby compassionately and consciously outside of the norm. Her story is inspiring and demystifies preconceived notions about Vegan babies. Enjoy!
VGL: What made you decide to raise your baby Vegan?
When my husband and I (and our puppy) decided to become Vegan, we knew it would be a choice for our entire family down the road. Following a vegan lifestyle and advocating for animals and the planet is so deeply ethical to us, so we knew we wanted to bring our children into this world with strong morals of being kind to all living beings. Children are loving at birth and have an understanding of being compassionate that is untainted by the world. We knew that this was how our daughter was going to grow up. We’re so excited to travel down this path with our new daughter with the hope that she’ll eventually make this decision on her own equipped with the correct information about the realities of our world.
VGL: Have there been any challenges along the way?
Our daughter is still an infant, therefore we have not been faced with many obstacles so far. We have been careful to shape our environment and the people we surround our family with so that everyone is understanding of our lifestyle. We anticipate that eventually we’ll face challenges when she’s older and she begins to realize many other people eat and think differently than us. We believe that if we give her guidance and information, she can ask her own questions and make her own decisions when faced with outside challenges.
VGL: What infant foods and brands do you recommend?
On top of being a vegan family, we also follow minimalism and are currently building our family’s first tiny house from a reclaimed FEMA trailer. We took this same approach when stocking up for our new daughter; having just enough and utilizing brands that are reusable and better for the environment. As far as nourishment, we decided to exclusively breastfeed from birth and plan on making our own baby-friendly foods when she moves to solids. We use cloth diapers and wipes and brands such as Bum Genius (flips and AIO), Charlie Banana, Bumpkins and Rumparooz. We also use flannel wipes with a spray bottle and essential oils to reduce our waste. Some other baby favorites we have so far are the glass Joovy Boob bottles, our linen Maya Ring Sling, and the Bloom Coco rocker (because of its wooden minimalist design).
We haven’t had to deal with these types of scenarios just yet. We can only imagine that this will eventually happen. I think communication is key with parents and teachers – being kind a respectful about it (rather than forceful), and making sure that your child is informed enough to ask questions and check for themselves. Many parents I’ve talked with recommend making sure your child always has snacks and treats on standby with them so they don’t feel left out at these types of gatherings.
When our baby is old enough, we do not plan on letting her participate in any sort of activity that involves the use of animals including food or activities. Rather than just telling her she can’t have something or can’t do something, we’ve discussed explaining to her why it’s not vegan and the implications that go along with those actions. If she’s been raised compassionately, she’ll understand why we make these decisions.
VGL: What are some common questions or objections you’ve encountered from others? How do you handle them?
We are very upfront about our lifestyle and speak freely about it to friends and relatives. We are sure to be well read and well informed that way we can effectively answer questions from others and support our views. So far with our baby we’ve gotten interesting comments from 2 different pediatricians. One in the hospital who asked us the typical question, “Where do you get your protein?” We quickly responded confidently with a laundry list of plant-based foods that offer just as much, if not more protein, than their animal counterparts. We experienced this a second time at her temporary pediatricians office who stated that since we’re vegan we will need to eventually go see a nutritionist with her when she eats solid foods. These types of comments are bothersome considering most people on the Standard American Diet (SAD) are more ill informed about nutrition and eat more poorly than a vegan, yet don’t receive any questioning or backlash. We believe it’s important to set an example for our daughter and respond appropriately with informed answers.
Be confident in your decision and know that you are arming your child with all the right stuff. A child who is raised in love and compassion for animals will transfer those beliefs to all areas of their life. Not to mention, you’re giving their bodies to most nutrient dense food and setting them up right to fight anything nasty that could come their way. You go, mama!