by Alice Shore
Ten delightful and intelligent children come regularly
to play in my garden (a jungle), to help me and to walk the dogs. Five
boys and five girls, they are all meat eaters, in varying amounts of
consumption. The youngest is three, the oldest is eleven. My vegan way
of life amuses some of them, but intrigues the others. Two of the older
girls, eight and nine years old, have tried to become vegetarian, but
without any support from their families. They have complained, “Being
vegetarian is difficult”.
Recently, one of them suggested that we have a party in the garden.
I agreed, but stressed, “It’s going to be a cruelty-free party, a healthy
one and a non-violent one, with gentle games”. They agreed to keep it
We sat down to sort out the food list. The sweets, fizzy drinks and
hamburgers of the usual parties were eliminated. Most agreed to bring
a plate of healthy food (vegetarian). But one girl refused to bring
anything. They asked to have ice-cream put on our list. I told them
a little about a healthy ice-cream called ‘Vitari’. Some had already
tried it and agreed it was OK.
The party was a great success. The children brought along two plates
of home-made focaccia bread for grilling with tomato and herb fillings,
a home-made pizza (half of which had salami - the mother’s compromise
to vegetarianism!), and onion dip, dry biscuits and fruit. I supplied
two cakes (made with soya milk and no egg), a plate of wholemeal tomato,
soya loaf and pickled onion sandwiches, a big fruit platter (popular),
nuts (hardly touched), mixed berry Vitari (a great success!), fruit
yoghurt made with bio-dynamic cow’s milk (an unpopular compromise),
mixed grain biscuits with Marmite and avocado (popular) and wrapped
chocolates (a compromise and wrapped as individual gifts, which proved
popular). Only one child complained that there were no sweets. For
drinks, we had soya smoothies (mango proved most popular), fruit juices
or hot soya milk cocoa (very popular). We played games, sang songs,
blew whistles and wore the usual hats. The oldest had decorated the
patio with balloons and made their own “Welcome” signs.
The children wish to have another party soon. For the next I plan a
step further: to have hummous dip with pieces of raw carrot and celery,
to eliminate the chocolates and to introduce a tofu cheesecake and to
ask the mother to keep the pizza vegetarian. Hopefully the next party
will be fully vegan. Some of the children have grandmothers who drink
soya milk for health reasons.
All in all, considering that ten of the children represent four country
town families with roots into traditional country life (like shooting,
trapping, barbecues and raising animals for slaughter) and have diets
of ‘fritz’ (processed sausage), fries, hamburgers, commercial fried
chicken and an overload of sweets and fizzy drinks, I feel that the
challenge is a real one but well worth the effort. The other two children
come from an ‘alternative’ background and eat a lot of soya, fruit and
cereals along with flesh in varying forms.
In today’ society all that one can do as an animal advocate working
with other people’s children is to live a life of quiet integrity and
example. Perhaps one or even two of these children will eventually find
the inner courage and wisdom necessary to break with tradition by becoming
vegetarian or, better still, vegan. I shall be watching their futures
with interest. All major changes in our lives begin with small steps.
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