'We are raising our babies vegan despite your judgement'
"He would much prefer to cuddle a chicken than eat one."
Veganism is a pretty touchy subject these days, especially when it comes to plant-based babies and children.
We spoke to seven different Australian mums who are raising vegan children to get the scoop on what life is really like raising vegan kids.
Indie and son Rowan, 2
Indie completed a nutrition course prior to starting a family - so she says she knows her son is very healthy.
Rowan's favourite foods are loaded with wholegrain rice, lentils, and oodles of fruits and vegetables-except broccoli and cauliflower: Indie has to hide those pesky veggies in a sauce of some kind.
Indie often takes Rowan to volunteer at sanctuaries to meet animals first-hand, and says he's only ever shown them affection. "I believe if he was a 'natural carnivore', his first reaction would not be to kiss them," she told Kidspot.
"He would much prefer to cuddle a chicken than eat one."
Ellen and daughter Luca, 10 months
Little Luca has been vegan since birth.
She's primarily breastfed (yes, breast milk is an 'animal' product, but as humans, unlike cows, are able to give consent to be milked, it is a-ok for vegans) but eats a lot of fruits, veggies, and loves tofu and tempeh.
"We are raising her so she is able to learn to be kind, and why we don't eat our animal friends," Ellen said.
"We've had no negativity thus far-we're waiting for when she's in school for that!"
Jessica and daughter Ella-Rose, 8
"I choose to raise my daughter vegan because to me, it's the right thing to do," Jessica told Kidspot.
"All parents raise their kids with certain values. Most parents wouldn't allow their child to throw litter in the street.
"They don't allow it because it's harmful and unethical: I feel the same way about eating animals."
Ella-Rose's friends are, thankfully, all very accepting of her choices, and are happy to eat vegan whenever they come over.
"They honestly never seem to notice they're not eating meat. These days, vegan cakes, pies, ice-creams, burgers and heaps of other items are readily available, so no one has to deprive themselves of treats."
Jessica's father is often negative about their vegan lifestyle, but Jessica takes no notice.
"People are often criticised for doing the right thing when the right thing goes against socially-accepted traditional values."
And to those who claim veganism is "child abuse" with "starving kids", Jessica says to have a look at what her daughter is eating.
"She eats so much food, it's impressive."
Ash and her son Arven, 4
Neuropsychologist Ash and her family love animals, and choose not to participate in cruelty as much as possible.
Ash teaches Arven values of compassion, respect and not taking what isn't yours, even if someone or something is weaker than you-contrary to the usual "humans are the top of the food chain" argument.
"We believe in standing up for what's right, rather than what's popular."
Ash ensures her son eats a wide range of vegetables and vital fats like chia, hemp and flax seeds, walnuts and avocado.
The family receives many comments criticising their diet-but haters are quickly silenced when they see that Arven is healthy and thriving.
Celine and sons Tyler, 5 and Mason, 3
When mum Celine went vegan to live a healthier life without harm almost a year ago, she didn't push it onto her family.
"I respected the right to make the choice on their own," she told Kidspot.
But her eldest son Tyler became very curious as to why his mum stopped eating certain foods.
So, she told him the truth: animal products harm animals.
As expected, Tyler had a lot of questions, and over the following weeks, Celine noticed changes.
"One day he pointed to a bottle of milk, and asked if it was from a cow," she said.
"When I told him yes, he said he didn't want it, and asked if he could try my milk (soy), which progressed to him completely refusing any animal products, and questioning everything offered to him."
Bonnie and sons Robert, 12, Erich, 10 and Andrew, 7
Bonnie only makes vegan food in her household: but she gives all her children the choice to eat whatever they wish.
Her eldest son Robert, 12, is vegan at home, but will still eat meat and dairy when out, and her youngest son Andrew, 7, will eat chicken nuggets and ice-cream when out-but her middle son, 10-year-old Erich, became vegan about 18 months ago.
"My children understand animal agriculture and why I'm vegan, but I make sure they understand what they choose is up to them," Bonnie told Kidspot.
Health is a main reason why the family eats mainly plants-smoked, charred and processed meats increase the risk of cancer.
And by eating 5-7 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, you reduce the risk of heart disease by 47%, strokes by 26% and cancer by 18%.
Animal agriculture is also responsible for 51% of greenhouse gas emissions: more than all the world's transport combined. It's the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction.
Kristy and Hazel, 17, Sofia, 9, and Rowley, 8
Kristy's family used to eat a meat-heavy diet, with dairy as a staple-particularly for young Sofia, who had been vegetarian before her family made the switch.
Now, they're much healthier, and eat loads of fruit, nuts, raw veggies and some mock meats.
"The transition was pretty easy," Kristy told Kidspot.
"Health wise, we're thriving. The kids rarely get sick, and the check-up results from doctors have been glowing." Kristy didn't show her children anything graphic in telling the truth about meat.
"We just discussed what happens to animals when we use them."
Sofia and Hazel love animals, and stand up for their rights by participating in friendly activism.
Unfortunately like most vegans, Sofia has also copped a fair bit of abuse-particularly from adults who have shouted in her face, while making rude gestures.
This story originally appeared on Kidspot and has been republished here with permission.