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.