Kozuskanich.jpg

Vegan Dad

October 27, 2009
By Guest Blogger
|120Comments|


If you googled “vegan dad” before I started my blog back in 2007, you would have been linked to a piece about Raphael Spindell or some vegan parents prosecuted for abusing their kids. Although veganism has been getting more mainstream attention in recent years (did you know Geezer Butler is a vegan?!), it is by no means a mainstream lifestyle; it’s still thought of as an oddity or a fad among celebrities, liberals, and college students who are rebelling against “the system.”

Most people are comfortable with veganism as an abstract concept. Once you add kids to the mix, though, they start to get panicky. For example, check out some of the responses to Ruby Roth’s children’s book That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals (from the whacky, to the skeptical). Rarely does one see the word “indoctrination” in a review of kids’ literature, even though most authors are trying to impart some kind of value system on their young readers. (Have you read a kids book lately? They’re all “share your toys,” and “be nice to people.” Holy indoctrination, Batman!)

So what makes telling kids not to eat meat so different from telling them not to lie? The truth is that food is an essential part of our identity; the old adage “you are what you eat” really is true. So, people get really nervous when you start messing around with that identity, especially when kids’ health is perceived to be at stake. Go ahead and mess up your own life, you crazy hippie, but won’t someone please think of the children?!

Having vegan kids often means having to take an extra dose of scrutiny. If you’re already tired of hearing the protein question, just wait until the pediatrician, the baby sitter, and other parents at the local playground get in on the action. And let’s not forget your mother.

Of course, in many ways we can’t blame our parents for thinking veganism is weird. My parents grew up during the early years of the Cold War, when real Americans ate meat and drank milk—not like those Commies, who could only afford bread and water. It was the beginning of industrialized food and a food pyramid shaped by the industrial food lobby. For the growing middle class, meat became a staple, and portions began to increase. Kids needed protein to grow up big and strong, and animal meat was the best protein around—or so the logic went. That mindset was and is hard to shake. When I became vegan and chose to raise my children as vegans, my mom was concerned that we would suffer as a result.

This said, my vegan journey—which began with a few books, like Diet for a New America—has been relatively easy. After a few lame dinners (think plain pan-fried tofu), it was pretty much smooth sailing. Although our parents were wary at first, they never condemned or criticized us. We have been accommodated at family dinners, and many times the extended family has given up meat altogether to eat my vegan entrée. We live in a neighborhood filled with other liberal pinkos who accept us and our vegan ways.

Moreover, the proof has been in the dairy-free pudding. By eating a balanced and diverse plant-based diet, Vegan Mom and I have been able to raise four healthy and happy kids. My youngest two, who have never eaten meat, are not at any disadvantage compared to their elder siblings, who ate meat for the first few years of their lives. In the face of this good health—and after they ran her into the ground a few times with that trademark unbridled energy that little boys are famous for—my mother finally became convinced that veganism was OK.

So, what advice can I offer to other vegan parents? To be honest, I always shy away from this question, lest somebody think that I have legitimate nutritional or parenting credentials. But of course, I can speak from my own experience. So let me say this: the most valuable thing I have taken away from my vegan journey thus far has been peace of mind. In spite of my intellectual confidence in raising my children as vegans, I admit to having had some lingering anxiety. I used to lie awake at night wondering if my kids were getting adequate nutrition. Were they getting the right balance of omega 3’s and 9’s? Enough protein? B12? Iron? Calcium? As it turns out, you don’t need to have grown up during the Cold War to think that the food guide is the gospel truth.

But these past four years of veganism have proven to me that we humans—adults and kids alike—can get all the nutrition we need without meat, eggs, and dairy. Eat a wide variety of foods of a wide variety of colors, and you can rest assured that your body is getting what it needs. Once you have that peace of mind, you can relax and enjoy your food.

Food should be fun. It’s pretty easy to get caught up in all the complexities of eating in our modern age. Is our food organic? Local? Whole grain? Whole wheat? Low fat? Too processed? I’m not saying these things aren’t important, but sometimes we get so caught up in the politics of food that we forget to simply enjoy eating. My blog (www.vegandad.blogspot.com) documents my attempt to explore the diversity of the food world (minus the animal products, of course), and my kids have joined me for every step of the journey. Below, you’ll find my recipe for Creamy Chunky Cauliflower Chowder, which is one of their favorites—and perfect for the season! Beyond this, they eat everything I blog (more or less) and have started to help me out in the kitchen. I hope to instill in them a compassion for the earth and the creatures in it while still pleasing their palates and filling their wee tummies.

If that’s indoctrination, then so be it.

Vegan Dad’s Creamy Chunky Cauliflower Chowder

creamy-chowder

Ingredients

- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp margarine
- 1 sweet onion, halved and sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 leeks, white and light green part, thinly sliced
- 1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
- 2 medium red potatoes, skins on, diced
- 4 cups water
- 1 roasted yellow pepper, skinned, seeded, chopped
- 1 recipe cashew cream
- generous tbsp yellow miso
- generous tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- salt and pepper to taste

Method

1. Heat oil and margarine in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and leeks and saute for 12-15 mins, or until reduced down and golden.
2. Add cauliflower and potatoes and water (salt the water if you want). Bring to bubbling, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 15-20 mins, until cauliflower and is very tender.
3. Remove half of the veggies with a slotted spoon. Add the roasted yellow pepper to the remainder and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.
4. Add removed veggies back to the pot along with the cashew cream. Add miso, mustard, and nutritional yeast and mix well. Season to taste, heat until just bubbling, and serve.

Nathan Kozuskanich is a father of four from North Bay, Ontario.  By day he is a mild-mannered professor of American history, and by night he is the intrepid and fearless blogger known as Vegan Dad.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment

120 responses to Vegan Dad
  1. This is a great post! You’ve effectively captured, and diffused, many of the concerns felt both by parents considering veganism for themselves and their kids, as well as extended family members who may think someone has gone off the tree-hugging deep end. Your blog is fun, readable, accessible, and does the greatest service to animals that I think is possible — it makes being vegan, and in particular being a vegan parent — seem easy and enjoyable. Thanks for putting yourself out there for all of us (and inviting the la…. um, stu… um, ridiculous criticism that sometimes comes from being a public figure and having your posts read by people with too much time on their hands). Keep up the good work!

  2. What a great post and the recipe looks delicious! I really enjoy reading your blog. Even though I’m not a vegan, I have found your recipes inspiring and tasty.

  3. Nate’s a good friend of mine — his humble blog made me start happyherbivore.com — he inspires me every day

  4. Great and interesting post, Nathan! I’ve had the same “lay awake at night” concerns about my kids’ diet. We’re not vegan or even total veggie yet, largely because I worry about their growth and development. Friendly question: how do you know they are getting the nutrients they need other than their energy level and the fact that outwardly they seem health? Has your pediatrician vouched for this yet? I just don’t know how to measure it and I’m curious. Can’t wait to explore your blog, thanks!

  5. Great post, Nate! Thanks for it!

  6. Thank you so much for this fantastic post! I want to raise my future kiddies vegan, but I know I’m going to come up against some strong skepticism from my family. I hope that you’ll continue blogging and spreading the word that veggie-parenting works!

  7. Great post! I have 3 boys (9, 6 + 5) and we eat a vegan diet. They are so far away from the sterotypical pale, skinny lathargic vegan ( you know that one? Like all brits have no chin and all jewish people are money grabbing and all black ppl can dance…yes its the same!)
    They are among the healthiest and active kids at school and are proud to call themselves vegans :)

  8. Great post! I’ve made many a recipes from Vegan Dad’s blog and it’s helped me become a better vegan cook. Thanks!

  9. Helloooo, Daddy.

  10. Great post! Good to hear from the experiences of someone who’s actually practicing this lifestyle as opposed to those who think they know but have no idea.
    I’m not fully vegan but find your blog extremely helpful in dinner planning. Keep up the good work!

  11. You’re Vegan Dad? Ha! Not what I expected. I expected someone older and bald.

    I’ve been following your blog for a while. So creative and yummy.

  12. Thanks so much for this post. I can tell you that right now forwards are being zoomed thru cyberspace in copies and forward this page products to friends and family who always voice the same fears and never find a reciepe that suits them. I make this chowder often and it is divine.. and vegan kids are going to grow up with the benefits of no heart disease,low cholesteral, no childhood obesity and a good clear no fat filled sugar cracked out brain that can process and learn and grown healthily. Bravo and thanks.. I cannot wait to add your blog to the list of daily reads. Peas and Carrots. Callie

  13. Hahah Stefania, I also expected Vegan Dad to be old and bald!

    What a great post. So many people say that all the vegans and vegan kids they have ever met are pale and puny etc etc, and I wonder just how many they have actually met – because I’m vegan and I actually haven’t met any yet so I wonder how all these other people know soooo many sick vegans.

    I think it’s great you are raising your kids vegan, it’s crazy to think vegan might be ok for adults but terrible for kids, where’s the logic?

  14. Great post! I only wish I could convince hubby to eat this way and “allow” me to eliminate meat from the kiddos diets….”oh but where ‘o where will they get their protein???” I most definitely have reduced it and they are eating more fish and virtually no red meat…baby steps, right? I am determined to get there tho and have added your blog to my list of favs…thanks!!!

  15. Thank you for this post!! Many times, I’ve also thought of our youngsters as the future of Veganism and Vegetarianism. I wish it weren’t such a controversial thing!
    Rock on Vegan Dad~
    ~Kat

  16. I’m with Stefania and Niki – I wasn’t expecting Vegan Dad to be so young and cute! :) Love your blog, Nate, and keep up the great work!

    Wannabe – I’m not a parent yet, but I go for a physical every year and am one of those people who requests a full copy of my bloodwork results so that I can look at all of my levels myself. (The one-sentence “Your levels are normal” letter I get from my doctor doesn’t do it for me – I like details!) My doctor also knows about (and approves of!) my diet, so I make sure to have them check every level that could be diet-related in addition to all the standard tests. There are a number of websites that break down – in nearly the same format as I get my results – the normal ranges of numbers and any other info. I won’t lie, I get totally stoked to see just how healthy my diet has made me, and it’s nice to have that fact-based knowledge when someone asks if I know for sure if I’m healthy or if I just feel healthy. I think it’s natural for people to worry there might be some “invisible damage” with no outward signs. For me, checking out my results every year validates my general “feeling” of being healthy and gives me even more peace of mind that I’m doing the right thing.

    One thing to note – my last blood test came back saying I was deficient in B12. I was shocked, because I take a multi with 100% of my daily B12, and have been taking it for years. Turns out that certain types of tests are unreliable as far as B12. For more information, check this out: http://www.vegansociety.com/food/nutrition/b12/

    Anyway, I talked to my doctor about it, and it turns out my levels are fine, and the numbers that made me seem deficient were from the blood counts. The MMA testing showed that my B12 levels were well within the normal range.

    I’m sure there are unhealthy vegans out there, just as there are unhealthy omnivores. I’ve never met an unhealthy vegan, though. But if you eat a varied vegan diet and know a little bit about nutrition, you should be fine. If you have concerns, schedule a visit with a veg-friendly nutritionist or doctor. Also check out eatright.org, where you can search for a practitioner and read the American Dietetic Association’s position paper stating that vegetarian and vegan diets are appropriate for anyone, from unborn babies to the elderly, and also have many health benefits: http://eatright.org/cps/rde/xchg/ada/hs.xsl/advocacy_933_ENU_HTML.htm

    I hope this helps! :)

  17. I am so glad to read this. My husband and I are vegan now. I was a true vegetarian for 15 years prior. My husband was not. We don’t have kids but all of our friends do and I hear all kinds of excuses as to how hard it is to get them to eat healthy much less vegetarian b/c is that really healthy for them. We are the crazy hippies. I know some kids & parents that eat very healthy foods but it concerns me to see kids eating so bad…happy meals & chicken fingers,pizza & soda. I applaud you and all of those like you for taking control and raising healthy compassionate eaters.
    Keri

  18. Lisa, thanks for all your great info! I’ll check out that eatright.org web site.

  19. Thanks for all the positive comments everybody! Sorry that I am not old and/or bald.

    Wannabe: I guess I have the same assurance that my kids are healthy that most other parents have. They always get a positive check up from the pediatrician and have never had any chronic health problems. Now, the pediatrician has never run any blood tests, if that’s what you mean, because he/she has never had reason to. I recently had a bought of vasculitis and a full blood panel was ordered–I passed with flying colours with B12 and protein levels at very high levels. I suppose if the diet is sustaining me, then it is sustaining my kids too.

  20. Wow. Why were my comments deleted? I don’t believe I was in any way rude, or impolite.

  21. This article says everything I try to say everyday to anyone who will listen. I am right there with you Vegan Dad. My own immediate family still closes their minds but I think that by leading the example, I will eventually change their minds. They have to decide themselves, otherwise they will never stick with it. So hang tough out there, and thanks for the inspirational words of encouragement! Happy Halloween!

  22. I wish my mother could read this… Or rather: accept. Go vege! All the best from Poland!

  23. this article is so well thought out and clear. vegan dad is a great role model for me as i am due to have a vegan babe any day now. and that soup! so creamy and delicious. please make it immediately.

  24. As a vegan for almost a year now, and a proud father of a four month old girl, I am proud to say that my wife and I are continuing our vegan lifestyle. We plan to raise our child in our footsteps, but we worry about social assimilation for when she is older.

    What do you tell your child when they are invited to someones birthday? We all are aware of celebratory cakes… Do you put them in the akward position of social exclusion from cake and icecream? Do you send them with their own personal desert supply? What about Halloween? We all know that a majority of commercial candies have all sorts of hidden non-vegan ingredients…

    I will admit I have not researched this particular topic… but I’m just surprized that no has spoken of this seemingly obvious concern.

  25. I love Vegan Dad.. One of my fav websites.

  26. Such a warm and friendly face to go with the persona. Vegan Dad, you rock!

  27. I can only imagine the parental hassles. I get the protein question too much for myself much less if I had any kids!

  28. Hello dude , This is interactive posting for my homework from school Do u have twitter account ?? i want to follow your twitt . Good bye

  29. YAY! Thank you Vegan Dad. You said just what I’ve been thinking! We just returned from the Pediatrician the other day! Our very last apt with them, as next year we are old enough to see a Family Practice doc, one who is from India & has more experience with vegans & vegetarians. As far as the inevitable holidays & Halloween etc. YES we do BYOB to these events. Just bring along an entire vegan cake & share it with others. Knowledge is best ingested by having it go through the stomach in the form of some yummy vegan cupcakes with flax seeds used instead of eggs & rice milk!! I even made a tofu cheesecake recently & folks wished I had brought more! I get the vegan kids thing ALL the time, even from other vegans. Most of them are excited & cheered by seeing us out & about tho, so I’ve been lucky. Only the Pescatarian peditrician was a tricky issue of late. It was fun seeing her eat crow when my kids Iron levels were noted as being perfect! HUZZAH!

  30. Hallo Friend , i like with ur idea. Do you have twitter or facebook so i can follow you ?

  31. Hey – nice blog about vegan parents, just looking around some blogs, seems a pretty nice platform you are using. I’m currently using WordPress for a few of my sites but looking to change one of them over to a platform similar to yours as a trial run. Anything in particular you would recommend about it?

  32. Great article! I enjoyed reading it. Tech TNT

  33. if all americans would be vegans, economy would crash :)))

  34. Haha… Nice dad… Great article…

  35. Ha, i just made the Creamy Chunky Cauliflower Chowder :)
    Im no vegan or vegi but i tell ya that chowder was delicious, highly recommend trying it.

    Many thanks Vegan Dad, 2 thumbs up .

  36. Just wondering what your thoughts are looking back? Are you glad you became a vegan? Do you think it has improved your health?

  37. I’m happy that yandex has showed me your site.The approach of presenting your point of view is astonishing! Carry on the good job!

  38. great Article on the Topic. Very helpful indeed.
    I think great topic. Congratulations!

  39. Great post, Nate! Thanks for it!

  40. hey, I also expected Vegan Dad to be old and bald!

    Nice blog and informative info here…!

    thanks
    Karen

  41. Nice blog about vegan parents

  42. Interesting post, but I can’t imagine being a vegan or letting my kids be vegans.

  43. Nice post! Good to hear from the experiences of someone who’s actually practicing this lifestyle as opposed to those who think they know but have no idea.

  44. Thank , giant inside me is waking up.

  45. Huh..I should try your recipe then..nice post..

  46. Oh wow, I’ve tried it and it was fantastic! Delicious! And…I need to admit: You were right!

  47. Eating vegan this sounds very interesting, I might try it but I don’t think my kids would

  48. I know that a vegan diet is really good for your health but I wonder about the texture of the food

  49. This looks like a great meal that is not only healthy but taste good

  50. Really great!

  51. Health way to go!!!

  52. Great Great

  53. vegan dad?…….. the title is too short but nice post.

  54. ????????? ?????

  55. Vegan dad is the greatest!

  56. I have been looking for this information for a while. Thanks for sharing.

  57. This look pretty good I might try a vegan dish in the future

  58. Thanks so much for this post. I can tell you that right now forwards are being zoomed thru cyberspace in copies and forward this page products to friends and family who always voice the same fears and never find a reciepe that suits them.

  59. Nice post! Good to hear from the experiences of someone who’s actually practicing this lifestyle as opposed to those who think they know but have no idea.

  60. Oh my gosh, I salivate so much when I read your staff of life posts! Staff of life fresh from the oven is so howling. I ca n’t get the hang of high height baking, my dough plays into bricks that you could build with.

  61. Interesting post, but I can’t imagine being a vegan or letting my kids be vegans.

  62. cen you post some more pene allungamento ?

  63. is any doctors in here to checjk the recipe?

  64. who cares about doctors when we have movie quotes with Arnold and Stallone

  65. yes i agree with you casanova action

  66. come on and bring more please

  67. we ask you again and again add url here

  68. hehehe article so interesting deep reasoning but make me smile some parts of article..god job

  69. I have to give that cauliflower chowder a try

  70. This looks interesting the cauliflower chowder I have to try the last vegan dish

  71. I realy like this post,I find a post about shoes from many site.I think your post are truely and great information.Thanks again and I will comeback.

  72. .I think your post are truely and great information

  73. Great of post

  74. Thanks for sharing all this great information. Very interesting site!

  75. Thank you for the very good website. I also should say that the layout is nice. Maintain the truly great job.

  76. Great Post thanks for the great info

  77. Thanks for the great info I going to pass it on to my friends

  78. Thanks, very nice and informative article! Wonderfully written opinion, cheers!

  79. Thanks for taking the time and effort to make some thing that is extremely good.

  80. Amazing post nate

  81. thanks. good information ;)

  82. thanks. good information

  83. siteniz guzel olmus elinize sagl?k

  84. Really liked the article you posted actually. it really isn’t that easy to find great posts toactually read (you know.. really READ and not just going through it like some uniterested and flesh eating zombie before going somewhere else), so cheers man for really not wasting my time!

  85. Vegas vegan here. Thanks for the post.

  86. There are some fascinating time limits in this article however I don’t know if I see all of them center to heart. There’s some validity however I will take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner as properly

  87. My kid is now 16 and though she’s never eaten meat, she a, let’s say a low-dairy vegetarian (I’m vegan, she and her dad are vegetarian, but dinner’s vegan, and all baking’s vegan; they can do what they like the rest of their eating). Our families used to worry about raising a kid without meat, but there’s nothing like an ASTONISHINGLY healthy child to subdue them. Whereas one or other of my my sister-in-law’s kids was always on antibiotics for something, ours has never had anything worse than a cold and one or two mild flus- yes, in 16 years (I’m knocking on wood as I type…)

    But what always gets to me is the people who say we’re doing her a disservice, that we don’t have the right to make this choice for her, that she could become vegetarian as an adult if she so chose, but we shouldn’t deprive her in the meatime. I say, it’s quite the opposite.

  88. Looks really interesting, I’m wondering how long you’ve been doing this?

  89. Interesting idea, Thanks so much for this information you have provided.

  90. I should try this some time, because it sounds good and nutricious.

  91. I am really crazy about Helathy Diets. I am sure my kids will love this.

    Thanks so much.

  92. Thanks so much for this post. I can tell you that right now forwards are being zoomed thru cyberspace in copies and forward this page products to friends and family who always voice the same fears and never find a reciepe that suits them. I make this chowder often and it is divine.. and vegan kids are going to grow up with the benefits of no heart disease,low cholesteral, no childhood obesity and a good clear no fat filled sugar cracked out brain that can process and learn and grown healthily. Bravo and thanks.. I cannot wait to add your blog to the list of daily reads. Peas and Carrots. Callie

  93. Just stumbled to this site after searching on google with my relevant keywords. This post is really helpful. Not to mention this one will also help me a lot, specially on my personal ideas and school presentation. Thanks.

  94. Even though I’m not a vegan, I have found your recipes inspiring and tasty

  95. specially on my personal ideas and school presentation. Thanks.

  96. I am really crazy about Helathy Diets. I am sure my kids will love this

  97. so cheers man for really not wasting my time

  98. The truth is that food is an essential part of our identity; the old adage you are what you eat really is true.

  99. Interesting post Nathan. Will come back for more.

  100. What a post, Need more of this kind of stuff!!1

  101. I don’t really agree with you… I think that we basically are animals, like every other animal on this planet. We don’t consider a cat being a monster only because he eat mouses or birds, so why shouldn’t we follow our natural biological identity?
    We are innatural when we burn oil, light nuclear fires, destroy forests, pollute river and seas, enslaves other humans… not when we eat meet.

  102. Thank you.this topic wonderfull.i love this site :=)

  103. I found this post very interesting. Very imformative!

  104. Thanks for sharing … nice post !

  105. i like your blog i have add to my favorites

  106. Way to go Vegan Dad! Inspirational

  107. Nutrition (also called nourishment or aliment) is the provision, to cells and organisms, of the materials necessary (in the form of food) to support life. Many common health problems can be prevented or alleviated with a healthy diet.

  108. Hi,

    your post is look good and your recipe also look delicious.
    Thanks for sharing your post with us.

    Regards
    Graphology

  109. Hummm so good idea. The result is delicious.
    Thanks for the post

  110. I think it’s great you are raising your kids vegan, it’s crazy to think vegan might be ok for adults but terrible for kids, where’s the logic?

  111. Porno

  112. Features work licensed care about a patient with breast cancer
    Arteries from mammary region: internal thoracic artery (internal mammary), lateral thoracic (mammary external) intercostal arteries and branches. Mammary gland is not dependent territories waking each artery separately. Internal thoracic artery (internal mammary). Arises on the underside of the subclavian artery, vertebral artery laterally. Get back subclavian vein, descends parallel and at a distance of 8-l0 mm from the sternum to the costal cartilage of the sixth century, where it divides into its terminal branches.

  113. It is also believed that pure vegetarians have lower risks of cardiac events and deaths from cardiac causes.

  114. I do really love cooking! I cook everyday for family and I am glad to find this blog this contribute some needful information and the recipes are amazing..

    Thanks dude..please continue writing more cooking style and presentations I loved it!

  115. Very nice article. Thanks for it!

  116. you are great man dad..

  117. Very nicely written indeed ! and its quite inspiring especially for people who have been thinking to turn vegan for a long time but could not get much motivated. Thanks a lot for sharing ! Keep up the good work.

  118. Yes it is not an issue to get all the nutrients we need from a vegan diet, if done properly. We need to eat a well balanced whole food plant based diet. The only issues are vitamin D vitamin B12, which are really issues for everyone. Most people are lacking vitamin D and not that the currently levels are being scrutinized are large percentage of those people are deficient. We need to get more sun because fortified foods are not doing the job. B12 is an issue and we need to be careful here I think. I supplement with spirulina or a vegan b12 supplement occasionally. Everything else we need we easily get from a well balanced whole food plant based diet.