Plant-Based Parenting In A Fast-Food World
My older son has been in school, bringing his own lunch, for quite a while now. Over the years I've realized he has some favorites, and as long as I pack them, his lunchbox comes home empty. Recently, I started to worry, "Is he getting enough variety?" I took a step back and surveyed his lunch for the next day: vegetables (check), fruit (check), sandwich with sun butter and jelly (check), hummus for his carrots (check). Hmm, all seems well here and I know he likes all of these foods, so why am I worrying?
Much of parental worry, at least for me, seems rooted in my own hang-ups. Wondering what other parents will think of the way my kid dresses, how he behaves in public, and the foods he wants to eat. We've been raising both our kids plant-based since almost day one and have yet to hit any huge hurdles (thankfully). The hurdles we have hit have been internal frustration with the systems we face every day; notably, school food. Early on, we had to have an awkward conversation with my oldest's daycare provider about why we wouldn't want him participating in the 'how to milk a cow' activity they were offering for "Dairy Month"... Though there have been a few bumps here and there, overall we haven't had any concerns about their health, nutrition, activity level, etc. If you want to hear more about these awkward moments and how we navigated them, be sure to checkout our Plant-Based Parenting Q&A here!
So, why all the worry? Raising our kids plant-based in what we refer to as "a fast food world" presents a whole host of challenges that we didn't foresee. There are advertisements, billboards, and commercials everywhere for fast food, the toys that go with the fast food, the characters, and the movies that have made an agreement with that fast food establishment for promotion. You can't escape it!
Just some light reading...Ruby Roth's books are so good.. get them here
Beyond the advertisements outside of school, you have a bunch of products inside the schools that are providing messages to your kids that you have little or no control over. Milk. Every school on the planet provides milk to their students. Why? There's a belief we need milk, more specifically, cow's milk. Which we don't, plain and simple. But because this concept has been so well marketed, bought and sold, and served to our kids for years, it is an impossible system to break (or is it).
In fact, milk's dominant presence in our lives is the direct result of false advertising! (Long story short, there was a surplus of milk after World War II, which resulted in federal programs that artificially drove demand.) We very early on began the conversation with our kids about why we wouldn't drink cow's milk (it isn't for us, it is for baby cows), and we've never had an issue with them wanting to try it. We also love our plant-based milks and take comfort in knowing that they provide nutrition without causing harm to our animal friends.
So, between the self-imposed worries about what others will think, the concern over marketing and milk, it can be challenging to forge ahead as a Plant-Based Parent. But as I stand in the kitchen, packing my oldest's lunch I know and feel good about our food choices, and the way we are raising our kids. That is why I created the Plant-Based Parenting In a Fast Food World course. I touch on a variety of topics, from school lunches to the ethics of our food choices. Check it out here.
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