Raising vegan kids easy enough for 1 mom

by Taylor Summers/KTAR (April 20th, 2012 @ 8:49am)

PHOENIX — Next week, a children’s book will hit bookstores called “Vegan is Love.” The book details things such as animal testing and eating habits.

It’s set off a firestorm among parents and has questioned whether or not parents should raise their kids as vegans.

“It’s possible and it’s safe,” said Heather Francois, of Phoenix.

Francois has three kids under 10 years old. She grew up in a vegetarian home, but less than a year ago decided to become a vegan. Her kids and husband followed suit.

“I make sure there is a full well-rounded diet, and that there are fun foods that are treats, as well as foods that are very health and enjoyable,” said Francois.

Francois said there was resistance from her oldest son, Isaac, but said that after he tried eating the food Heather prepared, he stopped complaining.

The transition was somewhat easy, Francois said, since she was a vegetarian and prepared vegetarian meals for the kids. Unlike vegetarians, many of whom eat eggs and dairy products, vegans don’t consume any animal products or by-products.

Now it’s just a matter of finding vegan substitutes for dairy products, particularly milk and cheese. As far as getting all the proper nutrients, Francois has had no problems.

“The vegetable kingdom is so complete. If you eat a broad spectrum of fruits, vegetables and grains, then you are taking in the complete nutrient profile that you need,” said Francois.

She does allow flexibility at times, particularly when Isaac goes to birthday parties with classmates.

“Many of our friends are aware of our choices and respect them, but sometimes we’ll see some of the typical birthday cupcakes,” said Francois. “I don’t want this to be a prisonlike environment where [Isaac] feels restricted.”

Francois’ next goal is open a strictly vegan grocery store in the Valley.

Testing the market for that store is still in the planning stages.