The political aspect of family food choices is a challenge for me. While I feel strongly about following a vegan diet, I feel the same way about respecting other's choices. That doesn't mean I am against promoting a vegan lifestyle, I am all for it, but in a positive constructive way. When I first became a vegetarian, I remember being ostracized for eating dairy and eggs. It totally turned me off to the idea of abstaining from them, and only eventually made that choice after getting there on my own terms. For these reasons, I struggle with the best way to discuss other's eating meat and animal products in a way where my child will not feel superior to others. I absolutely loathe religion being shoved down my throat, and can't help but see some parallels between the two.
When we discuss it now, my explanation for eating the way we do is simple, keeping in mind the age of the audience. All we say, is that we do not eat those things because we do not have to. Elliott came up with his own explanation for why we don't eat meat, because "they would be sad." He was 32 months old when he determined this. It was interesting to witness the "ah-ha" moment of understanding what it means when people talk about eating chicken or turkey. There is no hiding what it comes from like cows or pigs. We had just seen wild turkeys at the nature center by our house, and at lunch I told him I was making a veggie turkey sandwich when he inquired. A quizzical look fell upon his face, and he asked about the turkey part. I assured him it was not actually from a turkey, and that is when he divulged the "it would make them sad" explanation. I guess I never thought about having this moment since we are vegan.
It is interesting to point out how completely comfortable others feel at questioning our decision to raise our kids vegan. I often wonder how well it would be appreciated it I did the same for religious beliefs someone was teaching their children, but I "do unto others as I would prefer them do to me." While veganism is not a religion, it is much more than a diet. It is more accurately described as a lifestyle, which follows compassion. This is clearly founded on moral beliefs, the same as religion, but most people do not seem to view it as such.
As veganism becomes more mainstream, I believe this will become less common. It is amazing to see how far things have come from when I first choose a vegan lifestyle over 10 years ago. For now I will try remain optimistic about what the future will bring in this regard, but like any other parents we are figuring it out as we go along.