Most of the nation’s vegans became that way when they reached adulthood. Of the four percent of the US population who identify themselves as vegans, some chose to go vegan for moral reasons, some made the decision for health reasons-most as young or middle-age adults. Now their challenge is introducing vegan values to children.
Very few human cultures are totally vegan. Most of the data that doctors have on vegan diets and health pertain solely to adults. Vegan, vegetarian and semi-vegetarian food is becoming increasingly popular, but raising vegan kids is still a new frontier. At Veg Fest Colorado last weekend, Andy Mars, PhD provided many attendees with advice on how to raise veg kids safely and successfully.
Mars has raised veg kids and supports programs to help others do the same. His anchor program, Veg Kids, focuses on education. Kids don’t have to be veg to attend Veg Camp, a popular program that helps educate kids while they eat vegan food, visit animal sanctuaries and develop awareness and connection to vegan culture. Veg Camp has existed since 1993, back when veganism was largely relegated only to Hollywood celebrities and extremists.
Main stream vegans in Colorado like retired attorney Kris Giovanini remind the “veg curious” that being vegan in the authentic sense of the word is “not just a diet, but s lifestyle.” Giovanini created the website “Vegans Eat What?”.
Vegan diets were born out of necessity in Europe during World War II, when all food was scarce and animal products were extremely hard to get. British people suffered the greatest hardship due to their nation being a cold-weather island surrounded by German U-boats that prevented most shipping of goods of any kind. Much of Europe was in the same predicament, and many people learned to eat nothing but plant-based food and managed to stay healthy.
Today, veganism is defined as consuming no animal products of any kind, not clothing, cosmetics or any non-food product. Kids who attend Veg Camp get to learn all aspects of the vegan lifestyle and live that way while they attend, even if they are not vegan or vegetarian.
Veg Camp, and his active membership on the board of trustees of the American Vegan Society are just two of the many projects where Mars is active. Mars has also served on the board of the American Cancer Society, the Earth Harmony Foundation and the Children’s Arts Trust. He was also a founding member of the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine.