From packing the right food in lunchboxes to difficult conversations, raising a family can be hard work at the best of times. Throw veganism into the mix, and some caregivers can feel overwhelmed at trying to eschew all animal-derived products in a world that isn’t always vegan-friendly.
The internet has long provided one of the best tolls when it comes to engaging with fellow vegans, so mother Anna Nestulova has set up a group – Vegan Kids UK – so families, parents, and caregivers can engage with each other, offering ideas, help, and support.
Can you tell me a little bit about your vegan journey please? How long have you been vegan and what prompted you t
o make the change?
My transition to veganism has been a very long journey, a bit of a roller coaster ride. I gave up meat four years ago for ethical reasons and went pescatarian. A few more years down the line I gave up fish and seafood too – mainly for health reasons at the time, over reports of fish contaminated with mercury and PCBs. I was vegetarian for another year before finally transitioning to a vegan diet after learning about the cruelty involved in the dairy industry. It’s always been a gradual, natural process. Last year I finally reached the stage when I no longer crave any animal-derived food and always prefer a vegan option.
Does your day job relate to veganism at all?
I work as a buyer for a group of architectural companies, however promoting healthier lifestyle choices, including veganism is gradually taking over and I’m sure soon will be integrated into my professional career one way or the other.
Can you tell me a little bit about your son? Does he enjoy/understand veganism?
My son Roman just turned five and absolutely loves his vegan lifestyle. I have never expected his transition to be so easy and straight forward. He watched a few age appropriate videos on Youtube and refused to eat animal products ever since. It’s such a beautiful thing to see how open minded young children are in contrast to adults. The only question he ever asked was why did we eat animals before?
What is Vegan Kids UK?
Vegan Kids UK is a Facebook community for vegan parents and children who would like to meet other fellow vegans close by. It’s a group for members to locate people in their area as well as a platform for parents to talk anything related to raising your child as a vegan or transitioning to veganism, or in fact anything else people wish to discuss – the emphasis is on getting to know each other and building relationships.
Why did you set it up?
I think children are not getting enough support on their vegan journey. My son loves being vegan but questions as “why do we eat differently to others” and “why our lifestyle is not the same” always arise. There are unfortunately many occasions when kids raised as vegans turn omnivore as soon as they are responsible for their own food. I understand the peer pressure must be so tough and many are not able to resist. That’s why I believe supporting little vegans is so important, after all the future of veganism is in their hands.
Do you feel there is a lot of demand for such a group? What is the community like so far?
Definitely, even though the group was only created several weeks ago we have people joining daily, as well as multiple companies, event organizers and individuals expressing their interest in helping to spread the word. The community is amazing, everyone is sharing so much support and advice on raising little vegans. Favourite topics are no doubt recipes of kid friendly meals, sanctuaries in UK where children can meet rescued animals and lunch box ideas.
What are your hopes for Vegan Kids UK? Do you think it will become really popular?
I would love to connect as many vegan kids as possible throughout UK, set up regular meet up days and organize children’s events that would cater for their vegan lifestyle. So far we already have members from most parts of UK, it’s very exciting to see so many various locations – I am sure very soon every ‘weegan’ will be able to find a new best friend nearby!
Do you see veganism in general growing as a lifestyle choice? Do you believe young people will start to embrace veganism more?
It’s very exciting to see veganism growing at such a fast rate – so much advertising and campaigns highlighting cruelty of the trade, new restaurants opening regularly, Veganuary success, supermarkets selling a wider range of vegan products, clear labelling – I definitely don’t remember such exposure even just five years ago. I believe the young generation will have a huge impact on veganism, their open mindedness, compassion and strong ethical stance is an inspiration to all of us. We just need to support them on their journey.
You can find Vegan Kids UK on facebook.com
Vegan Chocolate Milk Recipe
- 47ml (2 cups) of almond or coconut milk, depending on preference
- 1 ripe banana
- 4 tbsp cocoa or cacao powder
- 1 pitted dried date, optional
Pop all the ingredients into a blender for about 1 minute and enjoy!
Recipes and photography supplied by Michaellas Kitchen