Jenna Dewan-Tatum may not be raising a vegan baby, but many of us are - outwardly, unapologetically, and deliciously.
My vegan parenthood has been atypical in some respects. Nobody randomly touched my belly without permission when I was pregnant, which is a big complaint of preggos everywhere. My doctors and Nurse Midwives were totally supportive of me being vegan and pregnant. And nobody asks me how my son gets his protein. I was so used to having to fight for my veganism that I’ve enjoyed this relative truce.
After I read “Vegan Jenna Dewan-Tatum Will Raise Her Kid To Be Healthy”, I realized that I get this vegan lifestyle question-challenge most often: “Is your husband vegan, too?”, which is often followed by, “Are you raising your son to be vegan and, are you bringing up a vegan baby?” I think the implications behind those questions are, “if one parent isn’t vegan, the kid has a chance at a normal life”. When the person asking realizes we’re both vegan and we have intentions to keep our household that way, I guess they back away quietly, seeing the futility of arguing how every child deserves a weekly happy meal.
The article mentioned above describes how two celebs, one vegan (Jenna Dewan-Tatum), one not (Channing Tatum), are raising their child together. Vegan mom Jenna embraces a very agreeable and popular stance about how their daughter will grow up to eat: “When Everly gets older, I think we should allow her to be her own person.” In context this seems to mean that if Everly chooses meat and dairy, well, then that’s what she’ll have.
It’s obvious that a person can choose their lifestyle when they’re older—yes, we all do that. It’s a cop-out when people proclaim that they’re going to parent in a way that doesn’t “impose” values on children, and although Jenna may not mean this exact sentiment, it’s one I hear frequently. I think we impose values every minute of every day on our kids (and on each other in general) through parenting, school (pledge of allegiance/assigned readings/school racial make-ups), church, TV, and in all other ways we spend our time and money and in everything we say. There’s no avoiding it.
My husband and I carefully try to teach our son to think critically and make decisions on his own as is developmentally appropriate, and part of that will be our transparency about our own beliefs. If we pretend that we are hiding our values so as not to impose them, we are lying to ourselves and to him. Generations benefit by standing on the shoulders of those who came before them, and it’s how we progress. We pass along our knowledge, wisdom, and even values so that each generation doesn’t have to re-fight every cause or re-learn every lesson. Then, it’s up to each new crew to make refinements to better our collective condition.
Furthermore, I’ve never met a parent who didn’t want to impose their values on their children, for better or worse. What values do people impose when attending a circus, the zoo, a hog roast, or going hunting? What values do we impose when we let people say racist or sexist things near our kids without challenging them? What values do we impose by spanking, yelling, or making fun of others? Or by carrying guns around a Target or Starbucks to make a point? And here I digress…
In short, we’re aware our son will someday grow up, have money and do his own thing—that’s the plan. Before that he may trade what’s in his lunchbox for whatever he finds at school or a friend’s house. But as much as we can manage, our household will be vegan—outwardly, unapologetically, deliciously vegan.
Photo credit: Arkansas ShutterBug via Flickr