Tell us a little about yourself
My name is Andrea Thompson. I live in Toronto with my husband, our two kids, and our cat companion, Duke. I am a stay at home mom, currently 7 months postpartum from my last birth. I run two Instagram pages (@torontoveganmom and @torontoveganfitmom) and a YouTube channel called Vegan Pregnancy and Parenting.
What lead you to veganism?
About 8 years ago my cousin came over and suggested we watch some Netflix documentaries. I will be honest and say that I had avoided educating myself on these industries because I knew it would heavily impact me. We started with Food Inc. and I immediately went vegetarian. About a year later, I watched Vegucated and realized I was still supporting animal suffering so I went vegan at that point. I have been vegan for 7 years.
How many children do you have? Were they born vegan?
I have two kids, a 7 month old baby and a 4 year old. They have both been vegan since birth.
Did you have a vegan pregnancy?
I had two vegan pregnancies, yes. They went pretty much like any other pregnancy. I had no complications, thankfully. One thing that was a “victory” was that my iron levels were impeccable (despite myths that iron is difficult to get from plant foods.) I should also note that none of my caregivers were vegan but none of them were remotely concerned about me being vegan while pregnant.
What are some of the challenges you find raising a vegan child?
I receive heavy criticism for raising vegan kids. I think this is mostly because I have a presence on social media. I am frequently messaged by people telling me that my children should be taken from me and that I am denying them essential nutrients by raising them vegan. In my own family I have received nothing but support, but society as a whole is still very much against raising children vegan.
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into products?
It is very difficult to educate young children on these subjects. It is not age appropriate to show my 4yr old slaughterhouse footage. We do our best to find ways to tell the truth without traumatizing the kids. We read books with a vegan message. Sanctuary Publishers has some great options. I talk about kindness and compassion constantly. I model empathy to all living beings.
What does being vegan mean to you?
Veganism is an ethical stance to avoid animal exploitation and harm as far as practicable and possible. I do my best to do as little harm as possible to all living beings. This extends to everything I do.
Any recommended vegan books, social sites, or blogs?
I love the Food empowerment project. I have learned so much from them. Also, I learn so much from Pamela Fergusson, she is a mom of four and owns her own business. As a registered dietician, with a PhD in nutrition, she is extremely well educated and also just a wonderful person.
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
Toronto has so many to choose from. Apiecalypse Now would have to be my favourite though.
Have you connected with other vegan families in your city? If so, how did you meet?
Yes, quite a few! I met many through Facebook groups. In my daughter’s school there are two other vegan kids in JK alone.
Do you make any exceptions for your child’s veganism? School snacks? Family gatherings?
This is something we are just coming up to. My daughter has started school and veganism is more of a “thing” when her classmates bring treats to school, which happens more frequently than I expected. Even when I send her with vegan versions, it causes her to feel othered. Her father, my husband, is also not vegan. He is extremely supportive of raising the kids vegan but he still sets a negative example by not making the change himself. If my daughter were to eat something not vegan at school, I wouldn’t make a big deal of it. I am playing the long game. The more of a big deal I make throughout the years the more I encourage a possible rebellion. As she gets older, we will educate her more and that will certainly influence her. It is difficult to navigate for sure!
How do you think you will react if your is out with his/her friends and they eat animal products?
I would be extremely upset but I would try to show them as little of that upset as possible. I can only model a life of compassion and empathy, I cannot control who my children become.