How to talk to preschool children about veganism?
Talking about veganism with preschool-aged children can be a bit more challenging compared to talking about it with older children or teenagers. This is because, at this age, children are still developing their cognitive and language skills, and may not yet have the capacity to fully understand complex concepts. It is important to talk about veganism with children in an emotionally and intellectually appropriate way.
Keep it simple
You should talk to a five-year-old as if you were talking to a five-year-old, that is, simply. It’s important to avoid using complex words or phrases that they may not understand. Instead, you can use simple and easy-to-understand examples to explain what veganism is. For example, you can explain that a vegan diet means not eating meat, dairy, eggs, and other animal products, and that it’s a way to be kind to animals. For example, instead of using complex terms such as speciesism, which may be difficult for children to understand, you can explain that unfortunately, not all animals are treated with the same kindness and respect. You can use simple and relatable examples, such as how some animals are kept as pets while others are used for food or clothing, and how it’s important to show kindness and compassion towards all animals, regardless of their intended use or purpose. This approach can help to make the concept of veganism more relatable and understandable for young children.
Young children often respond well to visual aids such as pictures, videos, and picture-books. You can use these to help explain the concept of veganism and the reasons behind it in a way that is easy for them to understand. These tools can help to break down complex ideas and make them more relatable to young children. For example, you can use pictures of animals, such as cows, pigs, and chickens, to help them understand that these creatures are living beings that deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. For example, in the book “The Not So Crazy Cow”, a child can learn through an intriguing story that cows are intelligent and sentient beings and that they deserve kindness and that their purpose is not to be burgers.
Picture-books can also be a great tool, as they can help to tell a story in a way that is easy for young children to understand. You can find children’s books that tackle the subject of veganism in an age-appropriate way, such as books that depict animal characters who choose to eat a plant-based diet. For example, in the story “An Unordinary Lion“, we find a number of animals that are strong, fast, healthy and eat plant food, such as elephants, zebras, and antelopes. Reading these stories to children can help to make the concept of veganism more relatable and easy for them to understand.
Practice what you are preaching
Incorporating veganism into your daily life can be an effective way of helping your child understand the concept better. By showing them how to make a vegan meal, or explaining why you choose to buy certain products that are vegan-friendly, you are providing them with real-life examples of what it means to live a vegan lifestyle. This can help them to grasp the concept in a tangible way, and make it more relatable to them. By incorporating veganism into your daily life, you are also modeling the behaviour and choices you hope your child will adopt, leading by example.
You can make a vegan meal with your child, for example, a vegetable stir-fry with tofu as the protein source, and explain to your child that by eating this meal, you are not using any animal-based products, and how it is an alternative to a meat-based dish. You can also take your child grocery shopping and show them how to read labels to find vegan-friendly products, and why it is important to choose these products over non-vegan alternatives. You can also point out the different benefits of a vegan diet such as its impact on the environment, and the health benefits it provides. For example, you can make a colourful vegetable stir-fry with tofu as the protein source and explain to your child how this meal is an alternative to a traditional meat-based dish and how it does not use any animal-based products. Another way to incorporate veganism is by taking your child grocery shopping and showing them how to identify and choose vegan-friendly products.
Here is a link to a video channel where children cook Vegas dishes.
Preschool-aged children often have a strong sense of empathy, and can connect with the idea of being kind to animals. When discussing veganism with them, it can be beneficial to focus on the compassionate aspect of the lifestyle. Explain that by avoiding meat, dairy, and eggs, we are making a choice that benefits animals and allows them to live happier, healthier lives. Use simple and relatable examples, such as a cow being able to stay with her calf rather than being used for milk or chickens being able to live free-range instead of being confined in battery cages. An example of a story that will inspire empathy is certainly “The Turtle Who Fights For Animal Rights”, which talks about all domestic and wild animals that yearn for freedom and kindness. By highlighting the empathetic aspect of veganism, you can help your child understand the importance of treating all living beings with compassion and respect.