Week #2 – Getting Vegucated

I bounced up the stairs full of enthusiasm for our second week of family learning – Healthy Eating – only to be greeted with groans, sighs and some fairly harsh commentary. “Geez mom, we always eat healthy. Do we really have to spend the whole week talking about it?” “Oh yay, more smoothies and salad. Can’t we eat some normal food?” “Please, please don’t make us go grocery shopping with you!”

Ouch! All of my wonderful plans for gathering my eager children around my kitchen island to prepare some vegan delights while we discussed the latest research on sea vegetables and they oohed and ahhed about how yummy my latest batch of kale chips tasted just evaporated in the blink of an eye. It seemed I would have to take a different approach.

The last thing I want to do is turn my children off of healthy eating habits by shoving my own ideas about food down their throats (so to speak). As a rule, I cook a mostly plant-based menu at home and then shut my mouth and allow them to make their own choices when they are at friends houses, parties and at restaurants. For me, one of the hardest things about following a veggie diet is that once I learned about the animal cruelty and environmental devastation involved in the meat and dairy industries and the myriad health benefits associated with a plant-based diet – I just wanted to share that information with everyone I know and love. But I’ve discovered that it is important to back off and let people come to these ideas when they are ready – and that includes my own children. And oftentimes, it’s easier to receive suggestions and ideas when they aren’t coming from your mom!

I had watched the documentary Vegucated a while back and found it to be full of great information that was delivered in a funny and thoughtful manner so I decided to have a family screening of this movie one night during the course of the week (it’s on Netflix in Canada). In the film, Director Marisa Miller Wolfson convinces 6 regular meat-eating New Yorkers to go vegan for 6 weeks and she documents their journey as they change their diet and their thinking about food.

vegucated 1

Overall this movie is lighthearted, informative and funny but if you are considering showing this doc to your family, I would suggest pre-screening it to see if you think they can handle a couple of disturbing scenes. After my daughter burst into tears watching a baby calf being taken from his mom, we decided to fast forward through that part and one other small section where there are a few upsetting moments during a tour of an abandoned slaughter-house.

Here were the kids comments after watching Vegucated:
“I am becoming a vegan….starting today!”
“Isn’t it awesome that Oreo’s are vegan?”
“I had no idea that’s how we got milk and cheese.”
“Can we go on a trip to a farm sanctuary?”
“I feel so sad for the animals.”
“Are veggie burgers from Harvey’s vegan?”

Do I expect them to stop eating bacon at Cora’s or a cheesy pizza every once in a while? Not a chance! But they did get a much better understanding of how animal products get to their plate and they’ll definitely carefully consider their food choices based on what they’ve seen and learned. And I would call that a success!

Next week: Self Love & Acceptance.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I don’t consider myself a “preachy” person…although my family might disagree. Mostly I intend to live my life on my own terms and only offer up explanations of my lifestyle choices if I’m directly asked. So that is why I rarely bring up what I have learned about the treatment and practices involved when it comes to raising, butchering and eating animals. Everyone has their own reasons for eating or not eating meat, eggs and dairy and it’s not my place to enlighten everyone I encounter on the wide-spread horrors within these industries.

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I promise I won’t gross you out with details except to say that if you think the burger on your plate or the ham and cheese slices in your sandwich just arrived there from a peaceful, contented animal who lived a healthy pain-free life and was slaughtered in a humane and hygienic manner then you are kidding yourself (in case you are curious – I’d recommend watching Food Inc or picking up Jonathan Saffron Foer’s book Eating Animals).

This video has been widely viewed in the foodie world so I apologize if you’ve already watched it but I was so moved that I felt I just had to share it. It made me think about the first time my daughter made the connection between meat and animals. We were in a local grocery store and she saw a rack of lamb in the meat case and asked me what it was. I told her and she literally did not believe me. “That’s not what it is. Why would anyone eat a lamb, mom?” she asked. I could almost see the wheels turning in her little head as she processed for the first time the connection between the meat at the store and living breathing animals.

Sometimes the wisdom of our children can open our eyes and force us see things from a different perspective. Check out the short video clip below:

(email subscribers – you may have to go to my site at www.lorileighwilson.com to view the video)