Guest post: Veganism and AP – Peas in a Pod

While I’m on vacation until Aug. 9 (and quite possibly for the day or two after I get back), I’m featuring several guest bloggers. This guest post comes from To-Fu who blogs at Attachment Living.

Attachment parenting is really just permission to parent intuitively, as Dr. William Sears has noted: “When I first began using the term ‘attachment parenting’ nearly 20 years ago, I felt ridiculous giving a name to a style of baby care that parents would naturally practice if they followed their own intuition rather than listening to the advice of others.” If AP is about child-led living and intuitive parenting, then I think it’s easy to see how veg*nism fits right in (“veg*n” is shorthand for vegan/vegetarian).

If I look at the world from the eyes of a child as I often try to do now that I have a babe of my own, I can’t imagine a child saying “I want to eat dead animals,” or “I want baby cows to be taken away from their mamas so I can have their milk,” when given the choice. Children tend to feel a natural fascination and connection with other animals and, I would argue, they intuitively understand on a very basic level that the difference between the family dog and the veal calf in a factory farm is an arbitrary one. After all, anyone who lives with companion animals knows that they are sentient and have feelings, moods, desires.

I figure that’s why a lot of APers are veg*ns, too. Learning to see the world through our children’s eyes lays at our feet the great and terrible potential for a larger sense of compassion and empathy. As a friend on another forum said, “Without embracing compassion for my son, I would never have moved my sphere of compassion beyond our family and beyond the human family.” It’s a fantastic joy, and it comes with its share of responsibility.

I know several APers who came to question society’s ways of doing things vis-à-vis attachment parenting, and that act of questioning turned into other sorts of activism and advocating. For me, it was the other way around: veg*nism led me to AP. As a vegan, it was not difficult to understand the concept of seeing dignity and value in non-human animals, that a calf and mother would not want to be separated from one another, or that animals (like children) do not exist to be used as objects or accessories.

As a fellow vegan and APer says, “In every single interaction I have with [my son], I try to see where he is coming from and what he might be thinking and feeling before I decide what the best course of action is. And it’s the same with veganism. I think about the cows and how it would have felt to have my baby taken away from me at birth and then forced to pump milk for however many hours a day, have mastitis, live in cramped quarters, etc., etc.” To put it simply (quoting another vegan APing friend here): “It’s all overlapping expressions of the same idea.”

Through veg*nism and the AP lifestyle, I have cultivated a sense of awe for life and a connection to the world around me. A fellow vegan and APer puts it best: “The connection I see [between veg*nism and AP] is simply considering things from the side of the other. If my baby cries, she would prefer to be soothed than left alone. So I soothe her. If an animal doesn’t want to be eaten or commodified (which s/he doesn’t), I’m going to respect that, too.”

I recall understanding this sensation most acutely during pregnancy and labor when I felt a remarkable affinity with all pregnant and laboring females—non-human animals, especially. There was something primitive and feral about me in those days, and there was something about relating to all kinds of female animals that empowered me to carry on even in the face of blinding pain and the white terror of the unknown. I have since learned it is not an uncommon feeling.

Both the AP lifestyle and veg*nism require a person to strip away tradition and ignore well-meaning but faulty advice. Talking about veg*nism can be tough for the same reasons it’s hard to talk about extended breastfeeding, sleep sharing, gentle discipline, and all that is AP: People who aren’t into it (for whatever reason) tend to feel judged or indicted. My mother has had similar defensive responses to both my eating and parenting styles, and my guess is that she sees the choices I make for my family as criticisms on what she fed me and how she raised me. As such, AP and veg*nism have had other surprising lessons in store for me that went beyond how I fed my baby or what I put on the dinner table.

It’s hard sometimes, living as an attached veg*n parent. I want more than anything for my family to be united and buoyed by a sense of kindness, connection, and compassion for the world and all its inhabitants—human or otherwise—even though it sometimes causes problems in my interpersonal relationships, and even though it sometimes leads to feelings of isolation. I think most APers can understand these sentiments, veg*n or not. As John Robbins once said, “if you carry vision […] you’re a pioneer, and you can always tell the pioneers by the arrows in their back.

But you don’t need me to tell you that it’s all worth it.

Further Reading

Assuming that most of Amy’s readers are already familiar with the AP lifestyle, I offer here a few links relevant to veg*nism and parenting:

Veg*n since 1995 and APing Little-Fu since January 2008, To-Fu shares an AP/NFL blog with her Mothering Dot Commune due date club ladies: Other things she feels strongly about that fit into the scope of attachment living (and therefore living compassionately) are: veganism, feminism, women’s sexual health, and social justice.

13 thoughts on “Guest post: Veganism and AP – Peas in a Pod”

  1. Interesting take. I find that since I had my son, I’ve become even more aware of environmental issues and considerably more willing to act on my convictions towards the environment, which includes eating less meat and more of what is available locally and better yet organic and local. Mostly, I don’t want my son eating “crap,” so the entire family eats less of it and more good stuff. All that to say for me, it was the opposite– I practiced AP, which lead to less meat (we still occasionally eat chicken, but as time passes, less and less and less….)

  2. I agree that practicing AP brings more compassion and awareness in so many areas of your life and makes you notice how much of our society is out of whack on so many levels. Imo, I feel that diet plays a huge part of that, too.

    I’ve been living the raw-vegan lifestyle. It has helped my health so much by switching to raw, living foods. I feel even better than when I ate meat or a cooked vegan diet – tons more energy.

    I’ve added a lot more raw produce to my son’s diet since I went raw and he chooses/asks for more of it on his own, too. He still eats some organic, uncured poultry and a little organic butter but the rest of his diet is made up of either cooked or raw vegan foods. I think he will naturally give up the poultry and butter on his own as he gets older (he’s an extreme picky eater so I don’t take away anything except junk food)and will just be all vegan.

    I took him off cheese and kefir after his bday in late Feb. (he never liked milk so didn’t drink it) and he has not been sick since then with anything. Raw, living foods are alkalizing to the body and bacteria/viruses only thrive in an acidic pH.

  3. We’ve been eating clean for awhile now, and it makes SUCH a difference in how I feel.

    I agree that our mothers seem to take our parenting choices as unspoken criticism. My mother has made comments before about my ban on HFCS and processed artificial crap, and I do think she takes it as criticism, when that’s just not true. She did th ebest with what she had and what she knew, and I’m doing the same.

  4. Isil, I think we may know each other from the VFF!

    More comments soon–it’s great to know there are other vegan AP mamas out there. 😀

  5. oops hit enter too soon, also meant to say I completely agree with you about the isolation aspect. It can be hard sometimes, many people can view your practicing veganism or AP as a judgement on their choices, especially when it comes to anything to do with raising children, a very emotive topic all round!

  6. Great post! I am vegan and my husband is not. He did not want our daughter raised vegan and it has been a struggle. Once Eliza is old enough to understand I will talk to her about not eating meat. I really need to learn more about AP!

  7. What an amazing post, very well written.
    I am not a mom (yet, though I hope to be) but I am a vegan, and find myself currently, as I am about to get married, already facing a slurry of comments about even the possibility of veg*n parenting.

    I appreciate your thoughts and words and the concept of AP parenting is totally new to me , at least as a noun, but fits in with my entire scope of world/human understandings. So thank you so much!

  8. Excellent post! Another vegan AP mom here. It’s definitely true for us that the issues go hand in hand (realizations about cow’s milk, curiousity about animal ingredients in vaccines, etc.).

    I most definitely question things even more than before and am doing a lot more research. Sometimes I wish for a second I could forget what I’ve learned as it seems to make our lives more difficult (eg: potential problems with wireless) but I don’t really mean it.

    As for the isolation, I often wish we could live in a place where our views were more pervasive (both veg and AP). I think it all comes down to compassion and empathy for other beings. Unfortunately, it seems an egocentric viewpoint is much more common around here and I get tired of seeing livestock transport trucks. 🙁

  9. I know that I am very late, but I was on holidays and just read this post. Just wanted to tell you how much it resonated with me. Thank you for writing it and writing it so well.

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