At some point, you may find yourself needing to broach the topic of veganism with children. They could be your kids or someone else’s – after all, kids are inquisitive and will probably question why you aren’t eating any meat at a particular event. So, when faced with wide eyes and chubby cheeks, how can you talk to kids about veganism?
Now, needless to say, you do have to take a very different approach when talking to kids. For one thing, kids are quite sensitive and you have to ensure that you don’t say anything to traumatize them. For another, kids have a completely different perspective to yours. Thus, you will need to get the point across in a unique manner.
If this is an issue you are trying to tackle, Here are some guidelines that should help:
Check with the Parents
If you are explaining veganism to someone else’s child, you must check with the parents first. Some parents may not want you to talk about the subject, while others will have specific rules to follow as you do so. You need to respect their wishes.
And, when explaining veganism to someone else’s kid, make it a point not to vilify or put down meat-eaters. After all, you don’t want to tell the kids that their parents are doing something wrong. That opens up a new world of problems. Rather, frame things from your point of view and use “I” statements. This way, you aren’t assigning blame to anyone.
Know Your Audience
It is a good idea to keep the child’s age in mind when explaining veganism. If the child is below the age of six, it is best to make it simple and to the point. They will be limited in how they understand the world around them. So, don’t try to overcomplicate or over-explain things.
Children between the age of 6 and 10 are more mature. This means that you can emphasize your beliefs a little more. Still, you should work on keeping it brief as their attention will wander. Stick to the facts that will most likely appeal to them.
For older kids, you can engage them more. Encourage them to ask you questions and answer these as tactfully as you can. These children are old enough to know that the world isn’t always such a great place. As such, you can reveal a bit more truth to them.
Tailor the Message to the Child
It is important to remember that every kid is different. Even siblings have vastly different personalities. Due to this, you may not be able to explain veganism to two different kids in the same way. For instance, if one child is quite sensitive, you have to be rather careful when explaining the meat and farming industry. Say the wrong thing and you may make them very upset.
On the other hand, if you are dealing with a more cerebral child, it could be helpful to take a more scientific approach. For instance, you could talk about the impact of the meat industry on the global climate, deforestation, and so on. Making this effort ensures that each child understands the point you are trying to get across.
Come From a Place of Positivity
As a vegan, it can be easy to get caught up in the negative aspects of the movement. This is only natural as it can be rather difficult to get rid of images of abused and tormented animals out of your head. However, when talking to kids, focus on the positive elements of the movement.
For example, talk about how being vegan saves animals, allows babies to stay with their mommies or makes the world a better place. You can also approach it from a health point of view and show kids that veganism can make you stronger and healthier.
Kids are naturally drawn to things that are light and fun. So, if you positively frame veganism, you are encouraging them to see it through a better lens. Not to mention, this perspective could also reduce the feelings of shame, guilt, or fear that may be associated when you learn about animal cruelty for the first time.
Avoid Harsh Language or Imagery
Needless to say, the “meat is murder” approach isn’t going to work with kids. Stay away from words like dead, murder, kill, or torture. Instead, talk about animals being hurt or sad. Keep the focus on animals being saved so that children will start to associate veganism with positive actions.
You should remember that children aren’t as jaded or conditioned as adults are. As such, using emotive yet mild language can still have the impact that you want to get across.
Use Visual Aids
Having trouble trying to find the words to explain veganism to kids? Not a problem. There are now numerous books, videos, and more that will do the talking for you. Moreover, these images and videos can often be easier for smaller kids to understand.
Of course, you need to find the right media for the child to be exposed to. So, avoid buying the first book you see or loading a random video. Rather, take the time to go through or watch the resource first. This will ensure that there aren’t any unpleasant surprises halfway through.
Make sure that the video or books have a light tone and that it won’t upset kids. Children should come away having a positive association with veganism and want to make changes that can help animals.
Another option is to take the kids to an animal sanctuary so that they can interact with the animals firsthand. Talk to the children about how the animals were rescued from bad places and how this is what veganism is all about.
There is no denying that it can be rather tricky to talk to children about veganism. However, with a little planning and the right resources on hand, you can teach them an important life lesson that they will always remember.
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