It’s back to school time! I get so excited at this time because I finally get a couple of hours to myself.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, but it’s time for them to get some social interaction with other kids and for me to get some work done!
I do worry about them though. With 2 in college, 3 in high school, and one in elementary school, they all have their own unique worries and concerns.
For my youngest who’s starting 1st grade this year, being vegan at school is one of her concerns. Well, I should say, it’s one of my concerns!
She actually does quite well standing up for her beliefs, ignoring the mean comments, and even educating her classmates about veganism.
I just worry about bullying and hurt feelings, as well as missing out on birthday treats! She is so much stronger than that though and missing out on some treats is no big deal for her.
We’ve been through this for a couple of years now, so we are experts on how to navigate being vegan at school. Read on to learn how you can help your child thrive as a vegan at school!
Vegan school meals
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In our school district, there are no vegan options available. Lunch is sold as a package deal, so even if you just wanted an apple, you would have to get the whole lunch.
Actually, lunch is being offered for free right now in our district, but the same thing applies. It’s only a package deal. So if my kid wanted an apple, she would also have to take the pizza, or the hot dog, or the string cheese.
Needless to say, we always pack lunches here.
Here are some school lunch ideas for your child:
- Fruit (grapes, blueberries, strawberries, and oranges all hold up well in a lunch box)
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (my daughter likes it in roll-up form in a tortilla)
- Pasta (Make the pasta the night before and heat it up with your preferred sauce in the morning. Put it in a small thermos that fits in your child’s lunch box.)
- Cheese and crackers (use your child’s favorite vegan cheese brand)
- Vegan yogurt
- Granola bars
- Vegetables (warmed up or frozen peas, carrot sticks, and corn all stay fresh in a lunch box)
- Trail mix
- Raisins or dried fruit
Don’t forget a special note in your child’s lunchbox to encourage them during the day!
What to do when there’s a birthday
Birthdays can be tough for vegan kids. If you’re planning your own vegan party, it’s much easier.
However, at other kids’ parties, there is rarely a treat that your vegan child can have.
It’s important to be proactive here. I always let my child’s teacher know that my daughter is vegan at the beginning of the school year.
I ask them to let me know if someone is bringing in a birthday treat so I can send a vegan treat with my daughter. Sometimes I ask if it’s okay for me to keep a treat at school, in case there is an occasion where my daughter is left out.
If the teacher is not comfortable with that, or there is an unexpected treat, I take my daughter out for a special something after school.
It’s crucial that you talk to your child about these circumstances too. My daughter knows that if she missed out we will do something special after school.
Sometimes she even prefers that more.
It’s hard to think of your kid sitting alone in class being the only one without a treat. However, if they know that they will get special time with you after school, it will be so worth it!
Talking to your child about bullies
Of course, vegan kids aren’t the only ones being bullied. This is a universal problem.
When I talk about bullies with my kids, I always point out that it usually stems from misinformation, or that the bully probably feels bad about themselves.
Last year, my daughter was in kindergarten. Some of the kids would call her “weird” for being vegan.
I told her “you know what? Maybe we are kind of weird but in a really good way!”
It is weird in our society to not eat animals, or not go to zoos, or not have cow’s milk with your cereal.
Our society thinks those things are normal, but we know better! So if it’s weird to care about animals, then call me weird!
My kid has gotten very good about taking comments in stride. She just continues to do what she knows is right and educate others about why she does what she does.
Keep the conversation alive at home so your kids know how to react as a vegan at school.
Reinforce the benefits of being vegan at school
This goes right along with my other point about keeping the conversation alive. When kids are in school, they are being influenced all day long by their peers, educational materials, and their teachers.
Most of society is not vegan! Your kid is being influenced by non-vegans all the time!
I have very regular conversations with my children about the benefits of eating a plant-based diet.
We talk about how animals are sentient and that society has groomed us to believe it’s normal to slaughter animals for food. Additionally, we talk about how society has normalized cruelty and death for people’s taste buds.
We also talk about how not farming animals benefits the planet and our health.
Of course, we talk about how many animals we save by being vegan and advocating for them!
It’s also important to consider getting a pet – to help save an animal as well as give your kid plenty of opportunities to develop essential character traits.
To wrap up
Being vegan at school can seem daunting for your child. However, if you have conversations with them beforehand to prepare them, they should be fine on their own.
Are your kids vegan and starting school soon? Have they been vegan at school for a few years now?
What advice do you have for other parents and kids? Things that worked for you? Obstacles you face?
Leave a comment below or contact me if you want personal advice. I’m always willing to help in any way that I can!