Sara Cunningham, a vegan of 15 years, and her husband Chris Graber, a vegan the last 18 years, made an atypical but rewarding choice to raise their children vegan since birth. The San Diego couple had two healthy full-term pregnancies; Athena, now 5, weighed 8 lbs. 12 oz., and Rowan, almost 3, was 10 lbs. 9 oz.
Sara and Chris feed their children so many delicious things I wish I were five again and could adopt them as parents: fresh fruit every day, and breakfast could be waffles, pancakes, muffins, cinnamon toast, or cereal. For lunches and dinners, they’ll have burritos, pasta, sandwiches, veggie burgers, or pizza. Some favorites are hummus, chocolate, avocado rolls (sushi without the fish), and baked kale chips. Like many vegans, the family has a daily smoothie, possibly including dates, fruit, hemp protein, and a green veggie.
To avoid challenging moments that come with taking an alternative path, Sara’s trick is being prepared with yummy snacks. When going to a party, playgroup, or event, she brings things that seem special — like lollipops or chips they don’t often eat — so Rowan and Athena don’t feel like they are missing out compared to other kids. For birthday parties Sara offers to bring vegan cupcakes, and the kids attend pizza parties (vegan).
When shopping at local health food stores and Trader Joe’s, they buy vegan products when possible, like Giovanni shampoo/conditioner, and for cleaning, Biokleen, or vinegar and baking soda. They purchase vegan shoes to the best of their ability.
Besides eating healthy veggie food, the family stays active. Chris loves running and cycling and is part of OrganicAthlete, while Sara is in a women’s soccer league, coached Athena’s soccer team, and enjoys rollerblading. Both kids swim and like hiking. Rowan loves bike rides and runs with his Dad.
As for people unfamiliar with the vegan diet who may have a negative reaction to the family’s choice, Sara said, “Luckily, I think my kids speak for themselves. They are smart, healthy, and fun to be around. People probably do feel skeptical, but I have found that is often because they are insecure with their own diet so I don’t take things to heart. I am doing what feels best for my family and I allow others to do the same.”
Learn more on Sara’s blog.