How to Advocate for Your Vegan Kid at School
There are so many great reasons to be vegan. Not only are you saving nearly 200 animals a year, you’re also helping the environment—and it can be a huge benefit to your health. Sometimes, however, being vegan may make your little one feel as though they stand out from their classmates—and that’s not always a good feeling for kids. Maybe they’re the only one in their class who eats vegan, or perhaps they have to deal with classroom dissection or field trips to places that exploit animals. It’s important that they know their parent or guardian has their back and that you can help set them up for success when they’re away from home. Follow these tips on advocating for your vegan kid at school.
Speak Up for Them Often
Tell the teacher that your child is vegan, and explain what that means. You may even want to provide the teacher with a few resources so they can better understand what being vegan entails. Ask them to give you a heads-up about upcoming parties or snacks so you can bring vegan treats for your little one—or maybe the whole class. And be prepared—you may find out about things like these at the last minute, and it’s important to try to provide a vegan version of whatever the rest of the class is having so that your kid doesn’t feel left out. You could also send in some treats to be kept in the classroom for when the teacher offers treats to everyone.
Frequent conversations with your child’s teacher should be a priority. This way, you can continue to be aware of not only what’s going on in the classroom but also how you can best support your kid and their learning experience.
Another great option is to write your child’s teacher a letter at the beginning of the school year explaining that your child is vegan. You could customize it to mention why your child won’t be participating in certain activities you already know the class will be doing—like a chick-hatching project or a field trip to a petting zoo. Use our template to get started:
Hi [Teacher’s Name],
I’m happy that [Child’s Name] has you for a teacher this year! I wanted to let you know that [Child’s Name] is vegan, so he/she/they doesn’t/don’t eat any animal-derived foods (including meat, eggs, and dairy) and doesn’t/don’t participate in activities using animals—like going to a petting zoo. [Child’s Name] cares as much about cows, pigs, chickens, and others as he/she/they does/do about dogs and cats, so activities that harm or don’t respect animals can upset him/her/them. I would sincerely appreciate it if you could give me a heads-up if the class will be doing anything that might cause [Child’s Name] to feel left out or uncomfortable. If a parent is sending in nonvegan cupcakes for a student’s birthday, for example, I’d be happy to provide a vegan cupcake for [Child’s Name].
Thanks so much for your help in making this a great year for [Child’s Name]! If you have any questions, you can reach me at [your e-mail address and/or phone number].
Speaking with the teacher isn’t the end of advocating for your child at school—it’s just the beginning. Find out whether there are opportunities for you to get involved at school. Perhaps you could volunteer in the classroom, work in the lunchroom, or make delicious vegan treats for the school bake sale. The more involved you are in your child’s school life, the more influence you’ll have when it comes to advocating for your little one. Plus, it puts you in a good position to speak up about any practices at the school that harm animals.
Another great way to get involved is by joining the parent-teacher organization. The more you support the school’s events, meetings, and teachers, the more changes you want to make will be supported. In addition, this will help you better support your child and understand the school and how it operates.
Encourage Your Child to Speak Up, Too
Looking out for your child is super-important, as they’re reliant on you! But there’s no better time than the present to encourage your kid to start advocating for themselves at school. (As the adult, be sure to follow up and make sure your child is being heard.) Some good ideas are teaching them to check for certain ingredients on food labels, to ask their teacher if an item is vegan, or to politely opt out of animal dissection or cruel field trips.
Whatever your child wants or needs to avoid or advocate for, it’s important that they be able to speak up. This will be a great developmental tool that they can use for the rest of their lives!
Grow a Community
There are probably other parents in your child’s school who care about the same issues you and your family care about. Maybe your child’s classroom is talking about participating in chick hatching or the school wants to put on a “donkey basketball” fundraiser. It’s vital to grow a community of parents, teachers, and school administrators who can rally to address important matters.
It can also be helpful to have relationships with a few parents in your kid’s class so that there’s likely to be an extra pair of eyes on your child if you aren’t around to speak up for them. Maybe a parent you know is helping out during a class party you can’t attend—you can lean on them to make sure your little one gets a vegan cupcake. No matter what the issue is, it’s good to have other adults around to help you speak up for your child at school.