Why Vegan and Am I Imposing My Beliefs On My Children?

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When I first became a mother to my stepchildren, I was just 22. I didn’t want to make any mistakes in raising them. I used to strive every day to find a balance between being their friend and a responsible adult taking over the role of a mother. I always felt a subliminal social pressure that whispered that if I made any mistakes, all fingers would be pointed at me as a wicked stepmother.

It took me nearly 7 years to realise that there is no parenting without mistakes and there is no society without opinions, whatever one does. One simply has to be mindful about it and be optimistic.

Whose Life Is It?

Fast forward a few years later, I gave birth to a rambunctious little baby who is from me but not mine. He is a person of his own. I think about this a lot. For years, I had an insecurity that my stepchildren will never be mine, and that I could raise them, provide for them and just like that the biological mum could come and take them away from me, while I stood helplessly. But it was only after giving birth to my baby I realised that life is not ours to own.

It is with this thought that I started to become mindful about life: mine, yours and theirs. It is the exact same thought that also made me realise that if life is not for us to own, it is also not for us to take. I want my children to know that it is not ok to kill or pay someone else to kill an animal (or any living being for that matter) for you. I don’t want them to think that it is okay to kill some animals for your food and entertainment and not some others.

Like them, all lives are free spirited or should be. If they have a will to want to live, they are not ours to take.

The Holy Cow

In India, the cow is a holy being. She is also called “the mother cow”, because people feed off of her milk. But guess what? She is not our mother, and her milk is for her calf. In saying so, I am not denying how cow’s milk may have come to the rescue of many human lives, and it had or perhaps has its place. Having said that, in a rich, evolved and developed world, we do not need it for our survival or even sustenance.

As a breastfeeding mother, I feel quite strongly about this subject. I personally don’t like the sensation or idea of breast pumps and so to think of the cows forcibly being impregnated, and then separated from their calves only to then be constrained and milked day in and day out while they bellow for their babies disgusts me.

I don’t know why we think it is acceptable to take away the milk from a baby cow (to whom the milk belongs and is formulated for), and give it to a human baby. How is that fair?! Nevermind fair, but it isn’t even healthy. (Check out my post on how to go dairy free)

Am I Imposing my beliefs on my children?

I suppose that is a matter of perspective.

I also imposed meat on my children or rather, “eat what’s on your plate”, to be precise. For years, I imposed a glass of milk on them every day, I also imposed (still do) restraints on how much TV they can watch, I imposed that they must keep away from fast food chains etc. We all impose our beliefs on our children in some form or the other until they grow to a certain age and start making or demanding to make their own choices.

Baby Ro has been raised vegan so far. I plan to keep him vegan through his childhood but he will of course have the option when he can fully comprehend the reasons behind being vegan. Reuben and Irene, like all of us in the family, were preconditioned into eating meat, seafood and all things dairy. It is not only a hard transition for them but also a choice they have to make for themselves. They are big enough to understand as to why I chose to be vegan, and they are free to transition slowly or not. They know that mummy will not pay for a dairy ice-cream but happily buy them an ice-lolly or any other non-dairy option.

I try to practice mindful living all the time. I believe in reducing waste, growing your own when you can (failing miserably at the moment) , shopping locally and organically if you can, being compassionate towards others and standing up for others in need. I am aware that as a parent, I have a big responsibility on my shoulders to model an image that I’d like to see in my children. I make mistakes too, but I am working on them and I am so very optimistic that my kids will pick up on some of it if not all to contribute towards a better, cleaner and gentler future.

Are the kids simply going vegan to honour my choices or to please me?

Well who is to say but them!

Firstly, I don’t think my children aged 10 and 9 years old are so naive. Irene accepted veganism right away but Reuben has only just transitioned pretty much completely after watching me be consistent for almost a year and after visiting the animal sanctuary. (Reuben says he will be flexible when traveling and that is fair). So I think they have made a conscious choice.

And even if they are going vegan for me, I don’t see why it is a bad thing. I appreciate their respect for me and my choices. I appreciate that they want to follow my spiritual journey and to be honest, so far I am well impressed. My positive perspective suggests if they are going vegan to honour me, that’s great because it is only leading them to live a healthier, more compassionate and a life that involves a lot of thinking and mindful eating.

I am vegan for my children, I am vegan for the animals, I am vegan for our health and I am vegan for the environment.

 

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Vegan Gnocchi With Creamy Cauliflower Sauce

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This recipe is a complete experiment and it turned out delicious. This is my healthy version of Mac n Cheese or Alfredo sauce.

Ingredients:

1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets

2 chopped carrots

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tsp garlic granules

1 tsp sugar

2 tsp dried sage (or fresh)

3 tbp of nutritional yeast

1/2 cup of grated vegan pizza cheese

1 cup soy milk

1 tbsp rapeseed oil

Salt to taste

500 gms gnocchi

Method:

Cook the carrots and cauliflower and then blend it with the soy milk to get a creamy thick mixture. Set aside!

In a hot pan, add the oil and fry the onions. Add the garlic granules and mustard. Stir well and add just a little dash of water to stop it from sticking. Now add the cauliflower mixture, cheese, sage and nutritional yeast.

Let it cook for a couple of minutes and set it aside.

In a separate saucepan, cook the gnocchi as per instructions.

Once cooked, drain and stir it in the cauliflower sauce.

Serve hot!

Tip: Sprinkle some chilli flakes or throw in some butternut squash. Instead of gnocchi add macaroni or any other pasta of your choice.

If you thin out the sauce with some plant based milk, you could have it like soup.

Vegan Fennel Salad

Copyrights: Sushmita C Targett

Copyrights: Sushmita C Targett

Like celery, fennel is one of those vegetables that can be a bit of a struggle for some people like me. I struggle with celery, whereas my husband struggles with fennel. We have learnt to juice them in order to get the nutritions out of them but I have to say this fennel salad recipe got everyone raving.

Ingredients:

A small bulb of fennel, thinly sliced

1 pear, thinly sliced

Handful of cherry tomatoes, cut into halves

Half of cucumber, thinly sliced

2 satsumas roughly chopped

Handful of chopped parsley

For the dressing:

Salt

Sugar/runny honey

Lemon juice

Method:

Combine all the ingredients together and set aside. Mix the ingredients for the dressing in a little bowl (I use jam jars, makes it fun for the kids to shake it) and pour it all over the salad. Now get in there with your hands and give those ingredients a good rub.

I would taste the dressing as you go along, I don’t use fixed measurements because it totally depends on your palette. I like mine sweeter, some others might like it tangier. So help yourself!

I hope you enjoy it! Please let me know if you like the recipe.