Dear Vegan Mama
I see you taking a deep breath as you enter the venue of the birthday party, clutching your bag filled with homemade plant-based cupcakes, shop bought vegan-friendly sweets, crisps and chocolates. You brought enough for your child to eat, and enough for her to share with her friends. You pray that no one tuts under their breath, or whispers, or worst of all, confronts you angrily about your family’s lifestyle choices.
I see you taking your multivitamins and squeezing in green smoothies whenever you can “just in case”.
I see you suffering in silence with your flu, afraid to display weakness, afraid your diet will be the blame for catching a bug simply doing its rounds.
I see you researching cruelty-free formula options late into the night. I see you struggling with breastfeeding and pushing through the pain no matter how excruciating, because you cannot afford vegan formula shipped from France.
I see you being sent private messages on Facebook with links to articles on babies whose deaths are blamed on vegan diets, and not their parents’ neglect.
I see you swallowing down frustration when older relatives ask what your doctor thinks about you not feeding your children animal flesh.
I see you fighting back the rolling of your eyes when another mother asks where your child gets her protein from. I see you reminding yourself to answer with compassion and understanding. Vegans are not allowed to be angry or sarcastic – our reputation is bad enough as it is; motherhood and parenting is everyones’ space to comment on and give advice about… and vegan mamas, particularly, are on thin ground.
I see your heartache when your baby girl asks why it is that other people still eat animals, even when they know they don’t have to. I see you crying with her when you are parked at a red light next to a truck filled with pigs, their little eyes staring out at you. I see you making the choice to tell her the truth behind where they are really destined for… because you know that lying about it is exactly why the world is in the state it is.
Ah, but vegan mama… I see the pride shine in your eyes when your little ones proudly announce that they don’t eat animals because they are “our friends”. I see your relief when they turn down conventional hot dogs and burgers and proclaim that their vegan alternatives are “so yummy, mum!”
I see the joy in your face, mama, when your babies cuddle lambs and gently pick up fat little yellow chicks. I see you finding peace in knowing that they will not feed on those same bodies; that you know that their diet and their love for animals will never be duplicitous.
I see you doing your best to teach your children to live in alignment with their values of kindness, peace and understanding. I see you giving them a chance to grow into the kind of adult who cares about more than her immediate sense of pleasure; the kind of adult who thinks with both reason, rationality and heart.
My dear vegan mama, we are growing in numbers and strength. We wipe the tears and kiss the bruises belonging to the new generation. We are raising an army; an army whose general is our mother earth, whose weapons are patience and understanding, and whose strength lies in the truth. At the end of the day, mama, as you put your little kind warriors to bed, you can sleep sound in the knowledge that truth is on your side. For all the tuts, whispers, confrontations and tears, there is love in your heart and peace in your principles. If anything else, you can, and should be, proud of that.
Image by Veronika G Photography.