NOTE: This piece was originally published on Ecorazzi on September 7th 2016
Recently, an Italian bill proposed jail time for parents irresponsibly imposing a vegan diet on their children. It has created a lot of buzz and discussion over whether vegan parents should be allowed to “force their values” on their children. A common theme in articles and commentary I have read is that regardless of a parent’s values, they shouldn’t “force” their radical choices on their children, but rather should let them choose if they want to be vegan or not. I have even seen several people comparing veganism to religious brainwashing and cults, making it seem like if a child is given a choice, they will obviously come to their senses and reject veganism. I have also met a number of vegans who have told me that while they have made the personal choice to go vegan, they wouldn’t force that on their children and that plan to let their children decide for themselves.
As a 22-year-old lifelong vegan whose parents “forced their beliefs” on me as a small child, I have a lot to say on this topic.
NOTE: I originally wrote this piece while in college, after receiving numerous criticisms of the vegan advocacy and tabling I was doing on campus. The piece was published in The Grinnell Underground Magazine.
Imagine this scenario: You suddenly find yourself transported to a time or place where public stonings are legal and are a socially accepted form of capital punishment for things like adultery. I’m certain that most people who are concerned with social justice would agree that, regardless of cultural traditions, stoning someone to death for a non-violent offense is absolutely abhorrent. Now that you are in this place, imagine that a public stoning is happening in front of you, and hundreds of people are throwing stones at a woman accused of adultery. Regardless of your place in the crowd and whether or not you throw a stone, you realize it will likely not make any difference to the suffering and terror the woman is experiencing. You also recognize that you have no hope in that exact moment of getting this stoning called off.
What do you do?