Exactly 1 week before Astral & Defy turn 3! (2/24/13)
Since my last post at the end of October the boys have been progressing rapidly per usual. I find it just too annoying to rehash every single milestone of their lives at this point. Every day something new and amazing happens (in our minds). So instead of the same old stuff, I’m just going to post a ridiculous amount of cute photos (of which there is no shortage) and hand it over to my absolute favorite vegan daddy to see what he has to say about Astral and Defy’s recent developments as vegan toddlers:
Astral and Defy are increasingly becoming aware of how non-vegan the world currently is outside of our "vegan bubble". They get that most of the items in grocery stores are derived from animals, but don't seem to have a problem with wanting any of them, even with all the bright, colorful packaging emblazoned with likable (by-design) cartoon characters. We just tell them that the items contain animal products and that's that, end of story. Like most kids their age (and probably most adults) they understand that it's wrong to intentionally harm animals when it's unnecessary to do so. They just have a different understanding of what necessity is because they know they don't need to eat animal bodies or animal secretions (or otherwise consume animal products) to be healthy and happy.
This understanding of what's wrong with exploiting animals for "food", with the ubiquity of animal-derived "food", and with the non-necessity of consuming animal products has led to some interesting situations for us as vegan parents. Sometimes I take the boys into a coffee shop during the day. This coffee shop has a big picture of some milky liquid being poured into a coffee-like liquid, and every time the boys see it they loudly go on and on about how it's not vegan, it's cows' milk and it's for the baby cows, "they hurt the cows for that", it's "just not right", etc. Honestly, I love having the opportunity of openly agreeing with them (probably to the surprise of anyone listening). "Yea, I agree, fellas. It's not right. Cows' milk is for baby cows, not for us". I can assure you that if you're ever in this situation, you will draw plenty of attention from bystanders.
Then there are situations with relatives. Earlier this month while visiting grandparents and other relatives in the Midwest, Astral and Defy became suspicious of certain things they saw at grandma and grandpa's home and kept asking us which relatives eat animal products. For the first time we had to explain to them that nobody there is vegan, and DnA seemed a little confused and saddened by this idea. Unlike DnA, Kenya and I weren't always vegans, and we remember that at one time we too had no clue about the realities of animal use. We don't in any way want to condone any animal exploitation, but we also don't want the boys to think less of their otherwise incredibly thoughtful, kind, supportive, and loving family members. We told the boys that not everyone understands that animals are exploited and inevitably "hurt" to obtain animal products. This lack of understanding might be true in some cases, but it felt somewhat dishonest, and none of us seemed satisfied with that response. We just didn't know what else to say when put on the spot.
Although grandma ate vegan and made many delicious vegan meals throughout our entire stay (including a veganized version of a 100 year-old family pretzel recipe), not everyone else did. One morning grandpa was sitting at the dining room table, eating his very non-vegan breakfast and washing it down with a tall glass of cows' milk. Astral and Defy noticed, and one of them asked him if he was, in fact, drinking cows' milk. Grandpa said "yes", thinking nothing of it. The boys then began complaining and ultimately refused to sit at the table with him. Again, we didn't quite know how to deal with that kind of situation, so we just used the dining room table when he was finished. Grandpa sort of laughed it off and tried to tell the boys that he was simply drinking milk, just like them. Astral made a face, crossed his arms, said "no!" and he and D walked away. Fortunately, Astral and Defy still enjoyed spending time with grandpa after that, just not so much during meal time...
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