Raising Kids Vegan


My husband and I were not vegan or vegetarian when we met.  We have slowly evolved into vegans and continue to learn as we strive to be kinder and healthier for the planet and ourselves.

I was first inspired to become Vegan seven years ago when I read the book “Skinny Bitch,” by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin and learned about myths, such as. ‘Milk … It Does a Body Good.’  

I have Crohn’s Disease, which is likely caused by a bacteria found in cow’s milk that is known to cause illness in cattle.1, 2 Having been systematically indoctrinated to believe that I had to drink milk in order to get enough calcium and protein, it was news to me that I was never meant to drink the milk of another species.

I have since learned that my body was telling me something, that drinking milk was making me very sick. I told my husband about the diseases caused by milk and we were on our road to vegan, instantly.  

At that time we were natural vegetarians with four young children. Our youngest, Madison was a newborn and it was easy for her. Our three boys, Dane, Jaden and Cody had to make some adjustments and give up eating eggs and dairy.

The very next day we went to a children’s birthday party where there was nothing for them to eat. Birthday parties and social engagements were our biggest challenge. Now, when we go to a party we eat before or after and when possible, bring our own food and cake and keep a supply of snacks in the car.

Our kids are learning real life lessons by living a vegan lifestyle. We have met so many kind people who accommodate our diet and often change with us. Being vegan is an expression of kindness and compassion and engenders an awareness of the preciousness of all life, both human and non-human and I believe that we are all the better for it.

We also have friends and relatives who do not support our lifestyle choice. On our vegan journey we have had the most resistance from close family and I would say that has been our biggest challenge. It’s not just a choice for us; it is a lifestyle of kindness.  

There has been a new awareness of the benefits of veganism and in recent years and more and more options are available. We love to eat out as a family.  Our favorite spots are Veggie Grill, Native Foods, Cafe Gratitude and Real Food Daily.  

For home cooked meals we love to make vegan lasagna with tofu and Daiya cheese and vegan pizza. For dessert, So Delicious has amazing Coconut Ice Cream in lots of flavors that are ‘to die for.’ We especially love the Cookies and Cream!

Our family hopes to inspire meat eaters to think about how food got to their plate and to influence more people to go vegan. Our children have had their  Bar Mitzvah and birthday parties at the Veggie Grill in Westwood with one-hundred percent vegan menus, thanks to Veggie Grill Vice President of operations, Scott Nicholson. 

We hope the delicious food and Jaden’s compassion will do much to promote kindness toward animals among his friends and their families.  

We look forward to planning many more vegan parties to introduce more families to the vegan lifestyle; one that is kind to animals and the environment and that will help them live a long and healthy life.

Deborah Elkins, mother of four vegan kids in Brentwood, CA, is the founder of the Bagel Mom movement that feeds hungry kids at schools, shelters and other programs in the Los Angeles area. twitter.com/BagelMomDiaries

  1. Knoflach P, Park BH, Cunningham R, Weiser MM, Albini B. Serum antibodies to cow’s milk proteins in ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Gastroenterology. 1987 Feb;92(2):479-85.
  2. Groenendaal H1, Zagmutt FJ. Scenario analysis of changes in consumption of dairy products caused by a hypothetical causal link between Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis and Crohn’s disease. J Dairy Sci. 2008 Aug;91(8):3245-58.
Deborah Elkins

Author: Deborah Elkins

Deborah Elkins lives with her husband Brett in Brentwood, CA and their four children Dane, Jaden, Cody and Madison. twitter.com/momof4vegankids