This already feels awkward.
I was lying awake the other night, thinking for no particular reason about how some people my age (25) are having kids. I imagined a scenario in which a child inquires about my veganism, in front of their parent(s), and what I would say in order to avoid causing a scene. It was quite difficult.
First of all, I like to avoid lying as much as I can. Lying is not a good habit, and I certainly wouldn’t want to lie about what happens to animals in a world that tends to forget about those born the wrong species. I resolved that I would, in some way, inform my friend’s son or daughter about why people are vegan, if they ask, just as I do when anyone else asks.
But I’d probably put it a lot nicer. Even so, it’s almost impossible to imagine that a non-vegan parent would approve of a vegan “brainwashing” their kid. It’s tragic that children react so horribly to finding out that they are eating what was once a living animal, something they have done for years, likely without consideration. No matter how polite you say it, it’s hard to imagine a child — particularly one that likes furry creatures — reacting well to finding out that they eat them.
And I don’t mean to excoriate parents who don’t inform their children of all the horrors of the world. There are some things that you don’t tell your child until they’re old enough to understand. Despite the strong and negative reaction a child will likely have to learning what they had for dinner (of which there are many videos on YouTube), that doesn’t mean it’s incorrect to feel that way. To the contrary, it’s the only sane way to react to such horrific news. There are many realities we appropriately keep from our children, but animal agriculture isn’t one of them.
So informing the child, gently but assuredly, of where meat comes from is just as much a confrontation with the parent(s). And that’s awkward as hell, especially when they are your friend(s).
I therefore have decided I will say something along these lines, if a friend’s kid should ask me why I’m vegan, or why I am not eating the pigs in a blanket served at a party: “Because that is made from an animal, and I don’t want to eat animals.” It will certainly get their wheels spinning if it hadn’t occurred to them before. Depending on the age, you may face a bombardment of questions, which may become increasingly difficult to find appropriate answers to.
Your friend may not be very thankful for what you’ve done, what with his daughter now demanding that they eat tofu instead of chicken for dinner. But at some point down the road, his daughter may look back on that moment as one that changed her life. If she swears off animal products, she will probably thank you eventually. And the animals will be grateful, too.