Children raised on raw vegan foods may begin experimenting when they become adolescents. I never recommend isolating children from activities in which they would be confronted with conventional foods, and I donʼt recommend isolating your family.
What is perceived as “peer pressure” in the teen years seems intense. Children often feel a strong desire to “fit in” with their teenage friends. Food choices are a very important part of “fitting in.” Children who have been living a healthy raw food lifestyle from a young age are aware that what they put into their bodies will determine their future state of health, but good health just doesnʼt seem that important an issue at this time of their lives.
When children are young, we as parents are the center of their universe, and they believe the messages we give them. From ages 3 and 5 until 11 and 13, my children enjoyed preparing raw food dishes and loved the taste of natural foods. Over the years, they delighted in all sorts of fruit and large green salads with delicious homemade dressings, green juices, and special raw vegan treats we prepared together. They thoroughly enjoyed preparing food and eating the results. But as the teen years approached, it became more and more difficult for them to feel comfortable with their peers. I also think they grew gradually tired of some of the raw foodistsʼ obsessive talk exclusively about food.
One thing I have learned after living a raw food lifestyle for many years is health involves so many different aspects; raw vegan foods are definitely important, but family togetherness, a low stress environment and fun are right at the top with nutrition.
Whatever my children choose to eat away from home, I know Iʼve provided them with the knowledge of what causes illness and what creates health to keep with them for the rest of their lives.
I think most children will eventually become influenced by the cultural values they perceive. The goal of creating raw and living foods communities around the world would be the solution to raising children healthfully and with support. I always dreamed my children could grow up in a raw vegan intentional community where they could have adult and peer support for living a healthy lifestyle. Since most of us donʼt have this kind of support for a healthy live food lifestyle, we must realize at a certain age, our children may stray due to cultural pressures. As time goes on, there is a developing awareness and growth of the raw food movement within the civilized world that should positively benefit families attempting to live a natural life. By increasing public awareness that disease need not be fought with drugs but prevented through healthful eating and lifestyle, I hope eating raw foods will eventually be considered normal. Today, with loads of new books extolling the benefits of the raw food lifestyle, itʼs easier to proclaim the choice.Iʼve come to believe once weʼve taught our children the powerful information about raw foods, we need to let them make decisions for themselves, no matter how painful it might be for us as parents. As much as we want to lead them to do what we feel is best for them, they need to be in control, or it wonʼt work for them in the long run. It is their path, not ours, and living in a culture in which chicken nuggets, pizza, French fries and chips are portrayed as healthful foods, teenagers will still need to find their own way without us guiding them at every step. We must nurture our childrensʼ decisions while continuing to make our homes as healthful as we possibly can. It is sometimes a hard balance and frustrating to a parent who believes strongly in the raw vegan lifestyle for a healthy future.
If spouses do not support each other on eating raw foods at home, this can create significant stress in everyday family life, and there will be a much greater chance the children will want to experience the foods of the other parentʼs diet at some time. It would be important to discuss these lifestyle beliefs prior to having children, as friction can arise when parents donʼt see eye to eye on nutrition.
Children who are raised to taste real fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden or organic farm and learn to forage for wild foods will usually return to this food from Nature even if they should stray for some time. My daughter remained vegetarian but experimented with cooked and processed foods for eight years before she realized the impact of her choices on her body, her mind and her environment. She began to listen to her own inner wisdom rather than simply following the crowd. She compared how she felt on raw foods when growing up at home to the standard dietary indoctrination surrounding her away from home. Her return to feeling wonderful on raw foods has given her a deep insight – fresh fruits and vegetables are the optimal “species specific” foods for humans.
Copyright December 2013 Karen Ranzi
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