Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Today's Guardian: Why I Must Not Teach My Children What I Think Is Ethical Behaviour But Omnis Can  - "Is veganism safe for children?"

I really don't have time to read the comments, but here's one that always sticks in my craw: "Why do you force your beliefs on to your children?".

For the same reason I will teach them to be kind to others, not to hit, to tell the truth and to share. Because ALL parents teach their kids the things they think are right. The assumption in the question is that the default - meat-eating etc - is a morally neutral default and that my wacky, crazy beliefs are intrinsically damaging. 

I wonder if we might term this 'omni privilege'. 

I find it interesting that when vegan parents write about their own experiences here, the response is "And here are the vegan zealots coming out of the woodwork". The question is about veganism and kids; these people have experience with it and choose to write about it, but suddenly they're proselytising weirdos. Each of them has said their kids are healthy but apparently their direct evidence is suspect because they don't take their kids to the local fried chicken shop.



Theresa said...

Omni privilege! Love this term. It works on so many levels -- when I think of white privilege or male privilege, I think of the fact that whiteness and maleness are seen as the neutral, default, never-thought-of-as-special states of being. It's like when people 'come out' as being gay, yet no one has to reveal their heterosexuality. You've just made my sociological day :)

Miss T said...

Thanks Theresa! That's exactly what I was getting at. Why do I have to justify feeding my child soy milk but an omni doesn't have to explain fat-and chemical-filled sausages, KFC or another species' breastmilk?

I've been doing some interwebs reading about privilege lately, and although I sometimes feel that the Oppression Olympics (great term from Steph and Danni!) can get pretty counter-productive, the omni one seems to be pretty ingrained.

lisa said...


Danni said...

The extrapolation for me is always about religion. I don't think it's wrong to introduce a child to your religion, but it is wrong to force it upon them (although similarly, if I ever had children and they later chose not to be vegan, I'd probably be upset).

However on your actual point, I agree completely. Because being vegan is seen as fringe, it must be wrong.

This article seems surprisingly balanced, but I think actually misses a lot of very important points, like how the modern omni diet is actually relatively new. Also how it fails to recognise that there are strict vegetarian cultures and they haven't died out yet.

Niki said...

Oh yeah, that article did my head in. Isn't feeding your kids meat and dairy also forcing your beliefs on your kids? What a load of bollocks.

How did that article even get published? Why is it assumed that parents feeding their kids vegan think less than omnis about balanced healthy diets and about making sure their kids get all the nutrients they need?

From all I have experienced being vegan, we actually think about nutrition and healthy eating more. I don't know many omnis who think about which nutrients are in their food or whether they eat enough/too much of them. Prior to going vegan I had no idea about what things contain which nutrients and from many of the questions I get asked about where I get my protein/calcium/iron clearly I wasn't the only one.

I think in many people's cases, going vegan and educating yourself on nutrition go hand in hand.

Vegan TV Presenter said...

It seems we only just finish with the furore of one of these sweepingly generalising articles when another comes out.

We have an epidemic of fat unhealthy children in the UK-but I don't see anyone handing out nurtitional advice outside our beloved fish and chips shops or Gregg's...or tp the pregnant women who frequebt them either...

Johanna GGG said...

great point Rachel - that question about forcing beliefs onto your children shows the ignorance of some people - including health practitioners - funny how people can accept you being vegetarian/vegan until an occasion arises when they feel every right to judge and it becomes clear that they were just humouring you for a while rather than accepting this is a lifestyle decision rather than a fad!

Jenny said...

Omnis often jump at the first chance to attack veganism / vegetarianism. I think it is a natural instinct they have because they think that if they don't attack, I will...I don't think they realise how hypocritical they are being for attacking MY personal choice and trying to force their beleifs on me

BrisVegan said...

Tell me about it! I have 3 kids who mostly eat vegan or vegetarian meals (but are technically omnis, as they have some dairy and may have non-vegan foods when their dad cooks or when at someone else's place, less than once a month).

One has had a few issues at school, possibly due to disgraphia, which are being followed up at the moment. The school counselor asked him about his diet (reasonable, as some kids may have issues due to food allergies/sensitivities or overuse of junk food). As soon as she heard his favourite meal was my tofu and mushroom ragu and veges, she quizzed him about his diet in detail. Then she suggested to us that his inability to be quick or neat on writing tasks (and subsequent frustation) might be from an iron deficiency! Quick blood test later and she had to eat her words (and yes, his B12 etc levels were fine too). Of course, she has zero training in nutrition, but being omni had to be an expert on iron absorption.

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shokuiku said...

Any diet can be unhealthy if the care is not taken.
My doctor was concerned about mine and my daughter's diet, calling it the "extreme diet" telling me to give my daughter more dairy ice cream and chocolate for calcium. are you kidding?
of course I tell my daughter why I decide to eat the way I do because I feel strongly about it.
I also understand she is her own person and is old enough to decide what she wants to do some occasions. It did take me a long time to get to this though. (specially her dad eats meat etc)

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