Vegan Parents Spotlight: Kayla Leaming – If We Can Teach Children to Have Compassion for an Ant, They will Have Compassion for Everyone.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Kayla Leaming, and I am a stay at home mom, I’m also an organizer for the save movement, anonymous for the voiceless and direct action everywhere. I live in Orlando, FL and I’ve been vegan for about 4 years, I do it for the animals!

What lead you to veganism?

I have always been an animal lover, as a kid I went vegetarian before I even knew what vegan was. Sadly, my vegetarianism failed due to family cooking my meals and bad diet, but my compassion was always there and I avoided meat for the most part. My husband was a big meat eater until he watched Cowspiracy and wanted to give up meat. I was beyond excited and that’s when I truly learned what it meant to be vegan. I knew right away that I was meant to live a vegan lifestyle!

How many children do you have? Were they born vegan?

I have three amazing and beautiful children, Landon, Rilee-Paige and Sapphire! Landon and Rilee-Paige weren’t born vegan, but Sapphire was! And my vegan pregnancy was by far the healthiest and easiest one, I had an all-natural at home birth and healed faster than my other 2 pregnancies.

Did you have a vegan pregnancy? If so, how’d it go?

My third pregnancy was my only vegan pregnancy and I have to admit there were some very noticeable differences. Vegan pregnancy was easier, I felt better, and I healed faster! Believe it or not, my vegan pregnancy was the first one that I wasn’t anemic. My vegan pregnancy was also my only natural and at home birth! I think the biggest difference was breast milk. I was unable to breastfeed my first 2 children and I whole heartedly believe it was due to bad diet, because the only difference with my 3rd was veganism and my milk came in the day she was born!

What are some of the challenges you find raising a vegan child? How have you dealt with these challenges?

I guess the biggest challenge would be the judgement some people will give you. They’ll accuse you of depriving your child of a normal childhood, or say that you force them to live vegan, that they’re brainwashed etc. But honestly, it really hasn’t been that much of a struggle because most people are very supportive and have genuine questions. Fortunately, we have an amazing doctor who actually just transitioned her whole family to veganism, so that’s great!

Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into products? How are you educating your child/children on veganism and compassion?

Absolutely! All children deserve to know exactly what they’re participating in to get their food. I don’t think we should show young children graphic footage, but I do think they should be informed. There are some great non-graphic, informative videos out there. At some point though, depending on the child’s maturity, I do think they should see the footage so they know exactly why they don’t participate in it.

What does being vegan mean to you?

Being vegan, for me, means not causing harm to anyone. There is no need to kill. I will go out if my way to make sure I don’t step on an ant crawling on the sidewalk, if I see an exhausted bee, I give them sugar water for a boost. I try to help anyone who needs it, that includes humans. I always say, if we teach children to have compassion for everyone, even as small as an ant, then they will have compassion for everyone. I do support vegan options at non vegan companies because I feel like we need to shift their source of income. If they make vegan products and they don’t sell, then they’ll stop selling them, if they make vegan products and they fly off the shelves then they will create more! I think being vegan makes me a better parent. It helps me be more understanding and compassionate.

Any recommended vegan books, social sites, or blogs?

I’m going to recommend some vegan kids’ books because they are really great! “Vivi the Super Vegan“, “V is for Vegan” and “This Is Why We Don’t Eat Animals” are all really great books! For kids, go to “Bite Sized Vegan” on YouTube and she has a kid series that is fantastic!! I would also recommend checking out AnimalHeroKids.org my kids are Co-Presidents for them and it is a great organization! Also check out Million Dollar Vegan and Veganuary.com.

Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?

All of my media is on “That Vegan Activist Family“. As far as a favorite movie I would have to say “The Notebook” I know, I know, it’s not vegan related, but gosh I love that movie!

What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?

I really love cooking, so being in my kitchen creating recipes is my favorite place to be and sitting down as a family to enjoy our food. But when we go out my favorite spots are Dandelion Communitea Cafe and Loving Vegan Market and Cuisine.

Please share your favorite the vegan recipe your kids love most.

It’s hard to pick one! We have so much fun creating recipes in the kitchen, but a family favorite is definitely build your own taco night! We get soft and crunchy taco shells and have vegan Gardein crumbles with taco seasoning, roasted potatoes, refried beans, black beans, corn salsa, sautéed peppers and onions, vegan cheese, vegan sour cream and rice! Yum!

Some encouraging words or advice for vegan parents.

Talk to your kids, explain to them why it is so important that we don’t harm animals. Trust their compassion! Also, find other vegan kids and let them form friendships with them! It’s really great when we have holiday parties with so many vegan kids and great vegan food! Find your community!

Have you connected with other vegan families in your city? If so, how did you meet?

Yes! We have found so many great families through activism!

Do you make any exceptions for your child’s veganism? School snacks? Family gatherings?

Never. There is no exception when it comes to animal abuse. There is nothing that we can’t find a vegan replacement for and all of our family, friends, and teachers at school know that we are vegan, and they know there is no exceptions. We bring vegan snacks into the classroom in case there is a party, and every time family has a gathering, we bring the food so that it’s all vegan!

How do you think you will react if your is out with his/her friends and they eat animal products?

It would break my heart; however, I know that my kids would never, ever do that. They’ve been to farms and slaughterhouses and they know who the victims are. They would never betray them. To them they don’t see “food” they see the individual who suffered.

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