Thursday, December 29, 2011

What This Vegan Child Does

As a vegan, Rose won't be experiencing enjoyment from looking at animals imprisoned in zoos. She won't get to participate in torturing and killing fish. She won't get to attend a rodeo or watch elephants forced to balance on balls at the circus. As a vegan, Rose won't be getting entertainment out of exploiting others. But there are so many ways to have fun without exploiting animals!

Here are some things Rose does for fun!

She goes to water parks and swimming pools!
Fun at West Edmonton Mall Waterpark

She has fun in the ball pool!
Rose Having Fun!

She goes to the park!
Fun at the Park

She has a blast on the slide!
Slide Fun

She visits the beach!
Rose at the Beach

She loves to swing!
Fun at Polson Park

She also loves walks, coloring, painting, stickers, reading, and exploring the outdoors!

If you would like to learn more about why we are vegan, please check out this online pamphlet, Respecting Animals Means Going Vegan

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Vegan Parenting and "Forcing Beliefs"

Occasionally I hear the comment that raising a child vegan is "imposing one's will" or "forcing one's beliefs" on their child. I decided I would write about this as it is quite a common thing to hear.

Isn't part of being a parent teaching your child right from wrong and how to live in the world? Don't most parents teach their children according to their beliefs? If a vegan is "forcing beliefs" on their children when they teach them to respect animals, then isn't a non-vegan "forcing beliefs" on their children when they teach them to exploit animals? It could also be said that we push our beliefs on children when we teach them not to bully other children, or not to hit their siblings. We teach them what WE believe is right and we don't allow children to do what WE believe is wrong. Giving a child "freedom to choose" obviously should not apply to everything. We don't give our children the choice to play in traffic, eat whatever they want (what if your child wanted cake and candy for meals?), or stick objects in electrical outlets. And we don't give our children the choice to steal from the neighbor's yard or throw rocks at passing cars.

It's part of being a parent to raise and guide a child, and harming others is not a personal choice. Choosing to use animal products is not like choosing which colour of shirt to wear or choosing what movie to watch. The choice to use animal products is a choice to cause unnecessary harm to OTHERS. It is a choice to exploit, torture, and kill another sentient being for reasons of pleasure, convenience, and/or tradition.

There is nothing wrong with a parent teaching their child to have respect for other sentient beings. If anyone is "imposing their will" on others it's non-vegans when they force their speciesist beliefs on non-humans by enslaving, exploiting, torturing, and killing them against their will.

To all vegan parents out there: I think it's great that you are teaching your children to respect all sentient beings and refrain from exploiting them! Don't let anyone convince you that you are being "unfair" or "cruel" to your children by raising them as happy, healthy vegans!

To non-vegans reading this, please go vegan! Animals have the right not to be treated as property and exploited for our use. Check out the slideshow Theory of Animal Rights to learn more about the rights of animals.

Rose and Jack

Saturday, June 18, 2011

An Encounter with a Speciesist Children's Book

Recently, Rose and I were visiting a couple friends at their house. They have a daughter who is quite a bit younger than Rose. They also had a friend over with an older child (my guess is about 5 or 6 years old). Rose and I were the only vegans in the house.

Rose and her new younger friend were playing on the floor when the older child came up to Rose and started sharing a book of his with her. When I noticed what the book was, I was horrified. It was a book geared to toddlers about fishing. This book, full of graphic photos of fish being yanked from the water with hooks penetrating through their faces, was telling toddlers all about how to kill these sentient beings and how fun it is to do so! The child was trying to show Rose this book while explaining what was happening in the photos. I certainly didn't want Rose to see these horrible images! I am horrified at the thought of ANY toddler being shown these images and told it is good and fun! I had to quickly distract her and was able to do so without having to explain to the child that I didn't want Rose to be taught that.
After this happened, that book was on my mind for quite some time. Especially when the child's mom sat him down on her lap and enthusiastically read him this book about torturing and killing these sentient individuals.

Are people like this cold-hearted, cruel people? Certainly not. I grew up as a speciesist non-vegan myself and as a child I used to go fishing every summer - and yes, I enjoyed it very much. But did I enjoy torturing animals? No, I didn't. I didn't enjoy fishing because I found thrill at any knowledge that a sentient being was suffering. Enjoyment usually came out of the effort, the challenge, the act of obtaining a "reward", and the time spent with my family. When I killed these animals, I hardly thought about how they were feeling. There really was a disconnect of an extreme kind. Whenever the thought ever did come to my mind about what the fish might be feeling, I would get very uncomfortable. But then I would push it to the back of my mind and go right back to what I was doing. After all, as I and most people are taught from a young age in a speciesist society, nonhuman animals are considered inferior and using them for our purposes is the norm. Everyone else is doing it, so it can't possibly be wrong, can it? How wrong I was.

Almost everyone I know who kills fish or other animals themselves (by hunting and fishing) cares for dogs, cats, or other animals. They are not "cold-hearted monsters", they are deeply confused. They show with their attitude towards and treatment of dogs and cats that they recognize that animals are sentient beings and they do have compassion and concern for animals. They can cry and rage about someone who beat a puppy to death, and then an hour later happily go out to the lake and painfully kill a fish! This is what many call moral schizophrenia. Almost everyone agrees that causing unnecessary suffering is wrong, but most people don't think clearly about this and apply it to their everyday lives. Almost everyone, when asked if causing unnecessary suffering to animals is wrong, will say yes, yet all animal use (except for extreme life-or-death circumstances) is just that! We have no need to consume animal products or use animals in any way. In my non-vegan days, when I would see a dog being slapped or someone throwing rocks at birds, I would get very upset with them, because I knew it was wrong to cause unnecessary harm to other sentient beings, but when I sat down to a dinner of animal products or climbed into a boat with my fishing rod it never crossed my mind, "Is this necessary?". I was morally confused. I didn't think my actions through. I didn't enjoy unnecessary suffering, I didn't even SEE unnecessary suffering.

This is why I won't jump to the conclusion that this person who happily read a book about fishing to this small child was a cruel, cold person that wanted to share delight in torturing animals. Rather, I assume that she is, like I was, someone who has compassion and reasoning, but is morally confused, and doesn't even see that what she is showing her child is very violent and unethical. She may simply need someone to talk to her about veganism and the moral issues of animal use, so that she will think more deeply about what she is doing when she uses animals and teaches her child to do the same. There are certainly humans out there who know they cause unnecessary pain and suffering and actually delight in it, but this is unusual.
The best thing we can do is not to angrily tell people they are terrible, cruel people (in my opinion, they're not) but to kindly offer them some education on veganism and the moral problems of using animals. And of course, to teach our own children (those who have children) that all sentient beings should be treated with respect and not used as our property.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beyond Her First Birthday

From her first birthday up until now (she is 19.5 months now), so much has happened! In such a small time, Rose has changed and achieved so much!

In November 2010, Rose started spoon feeding herself! Her top two teeth made their appearance too! She also started walking sideways and forward with walker toys, and said, "Bye bye daddy" for the first time!

In December, she pulled herself to a stand for the first time, and on Christmas Eve day she stood on her own for the first time, for about 10-15 seconds!

Rose Standing on Her Own!

In January, 2011, we went on a trip to New Brunswick to visit with our family there. Rose got to meet a lot of family!

Family Photos

Shortly after we went home, she started standing on her own and took some slow and unsteady steps! She progressed rapidly, and today, May 24th 2011, she can easily walk full speed ahead! She takes off everywhere, and can even go in circles or backwards. She can already climb on and off furniture, climb into and onto objects, and kick a ball! Now she has 12 teeth!



Rose Having Fun!

We now live in Ontario with my parents, and Alex, Rose's daddy, is still in Edmonton temporarily for school. She has a big front and back yard to play in, and with this hot and beautiful weather, she is outside a lot! Her favourite things to do outside are playing in her pool, playing on a blanket in the yard, and picking pinecones off the lawn! Inside her favourite things to do are playing with the cats, exploring and climbing, playing with her toys (her favourites being her blocks, toy train, hammer, and balls), and drawing! Her favourite foods now are bananas and noodles. She now knows over 70 words/phrases, and over 10 words in sign language.

My baby is now a toddler! :)


Spaghetti Time!

For MANY more photos, check out Rose's Album on Flickr!

Rose's First Year

After Rose was born and everyone had held her I got to breastfeed her for the first time. A very special moment for Rose and I. Later it was time for everyone to go home, leaving Rose and I at the hospital for the night. We spent the night in a room with several other mothers and their newborns, curtains separating all of us. That night I spent most of the time holding her and a lot of time feeding her. She would fall asleep in my arms, and I would try to sneak her into her little bed so that I could sleep too, but she would wake back up! So I spent a lot of time watching her sleep. But as tired as I was, I still enjoyed watching her sleep in my arms. She slept so peacefully. She looked so beautiful. I told her I loved her and gave her kisses. At one point I was able to sneak her into her bed and got a bit of rest.

In the morning Alex, his mom, and my mom came back. I had requested a vegan meal, and got something that was certainly not vegan. I can't remember what it was but one of the things was scrambled eggs! They had to be told again what I needed, and this time I got it. Vegetable broth, curried chickpeas, brown rice, soy milk, and crackers. I ate breakfast and continued on relaxing and filling out all kinds of forms that I was given. We had to stay at the hospital until about 3 in the afternoon.

When it was time for us to go, I changed Rose into her clothes (she was still wearing a hospital outfit). The first outfit she wore was a yellow baby Big Bird onesie and a blue dinosaur sleeper.

Rose Naps with Her Daddy

After Rose was all dressed, she was placed in her car seat and carried out of the hospital.

Ready to Go Home!

We went straight home. Our baby was now home!

In Dreamland

It was a big adjustment from there on. At first, a lot of the things were so awkward. Changing her clothing and diapers took quite a while and we were super gentle. My mom of course, being more experienced, was a lot more efficient! Breastfeeding was difficult at first. At times it was very frustrating as there were so many issues with latching and over-production. At times I actually felt like giving up. I never did though. I was determined to feed her the best thing she could have. No soy formula could compete with breast milk! After a lot of struggle and adjustment things started getting much easier.

At first Rose spent most of her time sleeping. It was so amusing to watch all the little facial expressions she would make while sleeping! Sometimes she would whimper in her sleep. It was an adorable sound. The first three nights, my mom and I took turns taking care of her during the night so that we could take turns sleeping. On the fourth night we were able to get her to sleep in her crib for the first time. She fell asleep to the lights and music of her fish crib toy. How beautiful she looked sleeping peacefully in her bed. She looked so tiny in her big crib.

Sleeping in the Crib

On October 10th, my mom had to head back to Ontario, which was very hard for her. Only 10 days with her grand-daughter and she had to say goodbye. There were a lot of tears shed at the airport.

On October 12th, Rose had her first bath in her baby tub. It took such a long time because Alex and I were so new to it and we were so careful with our fragile little newborn! I thought she would cry because a lot of babies cry during baths, especially when they are new to it. But not only did she not cry, she was very calm and relaxed during it all! To this day she still loves her baths!

The next day, something was going wrong. In one day, Rose projectile vomited three times. When she did it for the third time, we brought her to the emergency room of the hospital. We waited for two hours in the waiting room before getting to see a doctor. We told him what had happened and he checked her over. He told it is was actually pretty normal and that she was probably just over-eating. She didn't have a fever and was a healthy weight. She was actually quite a bit heavier than her birth weight already - 8lbs 8oz!

She continued having the problems, though not as severe. But over time it disappeared. I believe it was acid reflux and as her body developed more it went away.

On October 15th, Rose went on her first outing. We took her to West Edmonton Mall in her stroller. She didn't really get to experience it though because she slept the whole time!

Rose Asleep in Her Stroller

On October 23rd, Rose got to see her cousin Lili for the first time! Her cousin is just two and a half months older than she is. Rose was too young to really notice her though. I think it's great that Rose will have a family member very close to her age that she can play with!

November 3rd marked a really special milestone. This was the day that she flashed me her first smile! She was laying on the futon and I was talking to her when she gave me a grin! Alex was in the bedroom and I called out for him, telling him with excitement in my voice and tears in my eyes that Rose had smiled!

Within a week she was smiling a lot more frequently! It was a challenge to get photos of her smiles but I managed to get some! Very soon she was getting a lot better at lifting her head and began deliberately swiping at toys. By the end of December she was grasping toys, kicking the toys on her bouncer chair and activity gym, and trying to turn from her tummy to her back, and making it about half-way.

Rose's first Christmas arrived and it was very special. Rose has certainly made Christmas a lot more fun! We got her clothing, teething rings, and toys! Her Granny came up from Drayton Valley and brought gifts for her too.

Our Best Gift

The day after Christmas was going to be another good day because we were going to be flying to Ontario to spend two weeks with my parents! It would be the first time my dad would be seeing his grand-daughter! We had another Christmas there, and more gifts were exchanged. The next day we had a Tofurky dinner!

On December 31st, my dad dressed up as Santa Claus and Rose wore a beautiful dress that her Grandma and Grandpa got her and we took lots of Santa photos!

Family with Santa

On January 9th, we headed back to Edmonton.

On January 23, Rose got to experience an Exersaucer for the first time. She loved it!

First Time in the Exersaucer

On the same day she also got to sit in the high chair for the first time! Just one more month and she would be using it to eat meals!

Rose's Highchair

A week later, Rose made her first drawing! I let her hold a marker while I held a blank card, and she would swing it around, striking marks across the card in different directions. She had helped to make a birthday card for her Granny!

Homemade Birthday Card by Rose and I

A couple days later, Rose rolled over for the first time! I was so excited when it happened! The second time she did it, I caught it on video!

On February 14th, Rose laughed for the first time! She was in her high chair and I was swinging my hair around and she thought it was funny. Alex got out the video camera and started filming!

In March, Rose started to be able to sit and near the end of the month, she got to try her first food beyond breastmilk! She tried mashed organic sweet potatoes mixed with a bit of breastmilk. The fun of making Rose vegan meals (besides breastmilk) had begun!

I learned what foods Rose liked and which she didn't! Her favourites during those first few months of introduction to solids were sweet potatoes and carrots! She wanted nothing to do with asparagus!

Spoon Nom

By May Rose could roll across a room, but only by rolling to the right! May also marked when she started rolling over to sleep on her tummy sometimes, and it was also the month she said her first words! She was saying, "mama", "mom", "mum", and "dada"! She also learned how to wave and clap her hands softly!

Turning Over

At the end of June, while I was giving her a bath, I noticed her first teeth coming in! The bottom two incisors had appeared. And this was right on my birthday even! What a nice gift!

In July, Rose started to say "baby", and for a long time would say it over and over throughout the day! She learned how to give kisses too! She was starting to learn things a lot faster!

Rose and I On the Swing

In August, Rose started standing while holding onto objects or people and learned how to clap her hands!


In September, Rose started using the potty from time to time, hand-feeding herself fresh fruit and cooked veggies, scooting on her bum backwards, and signing NAP and BABY!

Rose Having Fun

On October 1st, 2010 Rose turned one year old! We had a party for her and invited family in the Edmonton area. She received lots of gifts and got to enjoy her first (vegan of course!) cupcake! Here are photos from her first birthday!

Rose's First Birthday

Rose's First Birthday

Rose's First Birthday

A whole year went by with so much excitement, so much learning, and so many acheivements! The first year spent with my daughter was an amazing year, and I look forward to spending many more with her! She has so much more to experience and learn about! There's so much fun and excitement to come!

For MANY more photos check out Rose's album on Flickr!