Give the Gift of Compassion

Giving the right present to the “man who has everything” can sometimes be a challenge. How many Jerry Garcia tie-dyed ties or monogrammed grill sets does dad really need? Whatever that next special occasion may be, give dad the gift that keeps on giving. The gift of excellent health, the gift of a sustainable future for our children and our planet, and the gift of true compassion toward animals. Give the gift of going vegan.

Did you know there are over 56 billion farmed animals slaughtered worldwide every year? That means that since you started reading this article, more than 50,000 animals were killed. Stop to think about that. By going vegan, you’re no longer contributing to this cycle and you’re helping to build a kinder tomorrow.

I’m a father myself of two vegan toddlers. A five-year-old boy who can bench press a Volkswagen and a three-and-a-half year old girl who very well could get pulled over someday for speeding on her scooter. Both have been vegan since birth and both are in excellent physical, and mental, health. The myth that you can’t raise healthy, thriving vegan kids is just that; a myth.

There are so many reasons to go vegan (I’m hard pressed to think of a reason why you wouldn’t) and there’s never been a better time. With all the incredible substitutes for meat, dairy, and eggs readily available and so many compelling and informative books, videos, and films on the subject, now is the time. The only regret I’ve heard from vegans is that they didn’t go vegan sooner.

I can relate. I went vegan, overnight, later in life. Prompted by a 30-day plant-based eating challenge set forth by my wife which, ultimately, became the bet I refuse to lose nearly seven years later. I was the last person on the planet you’d expect to switch to a plant-based diet. I once ate 68 chicken wings in one sitting.

Years later, as an ethical vegan, I felt remorse knowing that I was personally responsible for the death of 34 chickens for that one meal. There’s a statistic that’s been published stating that a vegan diet saves 100 animals per year per person. They obviously weren’t basing that number on me.

Right now the meat industry is in a tailspin trying to stay relevant while more people are choosing to turn away from animal products in favor of more compassionate choices. The dairy industry is in even more dire straits, dumping millions of gallons of milk unwanted by consumers.

As a parent, when you consider the mistreatment and exploitation of mother cows in the dairy industry and the fate of their offspring, it’s hard not to imagine you and your family enduring the same misery. To imagine your child being taken from you only because their mother is being subjected to a lifetime of artificial insemination, pregnancies, births, lactation, and painful milking makes me feel guilty for all my years of consuming dairy.

In my forthcoming book, The Smart Parent’s Guide to Raising Vegan Kids (Skyhorse Publishing), I actually dedicate two full chapters to dairy since I think it’s the most important of the traditional nutritional myths that needs dismantling. Humans have as much a biological need for cow’s milk as they have for dolphin milk: None. A cow’s milk is produced for her calf.

So, where do you start when you want to give or receive the gift of going vegan? Compassion Over Killing and many other organizations offer outreach and education resources that will help you on your path to vegan eating as well as help guide you as you talk to your family about these new steps. You can often find family-friendly vegan events right in your community.

At this year’s DC VegFest (CANCELLED due to State of Emergency), hosted by Compassion Over Killing, I am honored to take part in the Kid’s Zone where I will be teaching cartooning to kids and talking to their parents about my new book and raising kids vegan.

So when it’s time to give more than just a gift, ask dad to light up the grill. Crack open a kombucha. Slather those seitan steaks, veggie burgers, and portobello mushrooms with your favorite BBQ sauce and get cooking. You’ll be enjoying the flavors you love while knowing that you’re setting yourself, and your family, up for a lifetime of healthier living, sustainable protection of the planet, and a true love for all animals.

Go Vegan.

Eric C Lindstrom is the author of The Skeptical Vegan and The Smart Parent’s Guide to Raising Vegan Kids and the Director of Marketing for Compassion Over Killing. He lives in Ithaca, NY, with his vegan wife, two vegan toddlers and vegan dog Kimchi. Find and follow on all social media or visit TheSkepticalVegan.com.

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