One of the main reasons why kids decide they don’t want to be vegan anymore is because they see themselves as different to their peers, and don’t feel like they fit in. And one of the places they notice this most is at school. Obviously the easiest way around this would be to make sure your kids’ friends are all vegan, but unfortunately that’s not possible for most of us right now. So it’s really important that we make sure that even though our kids are eating different food to their friends, they still feel like they fit in, and they’re not the odd one out. I’ve put together my top 5 tips on how to make sure your vegan kids fit in at school below.
Give Them Similar Lunchboxes
One of the best ways of helping your kids fit in at school is to make sure that their lunchboxes are packed full of similar foods to what their friends are eating.
Now I’m not saying that you have to fill your kids’ lunchboxes with packets of chips and chocolates if that’s what their friends are eating. But try to mimic similar types of foods. If your child’s friends tend to have sandwiches, a cake and some fruit, then make your child a vegan version of those types of foods, rather than packing them a lentil curry and rice each day.
When my kids came home wanting the same chocolates and treats that their friends were having, I found packets of Chocolate Chickpeas at the supermarket, which my kids loved. They saw them as a special treat, plus they were fun supermarket foods, but I loved them because they were mostly chickpeas! So it was a win for everyone!
These days with so many vegan options, this can be quite easy. You can easily make your kids vegan cheese or vegan ham sandwiches, and even go for crackers and cheese. Of course, if your kids are looking for more adventurous options like pizzas, sausage rolls and muffins, then I’ve got lots of recipes in the Vegan Lunchbox Vault!
Make Their Lunchboxes Super Cool!
If you don’t want to try to match what your child’s friends are eating each day, then the other option is to make your child’s lunchbox so cool that everyone wants one like theirs! I used to do that with my kids. My eldest would have pizza, cookies and brownies (all packed full of iron, zinc and protein, of course!), and the other kids would be forever asking their mums for the same thing! I used to get so many mums asking me for the recipes! So my kids never felt like they were missing out on their vegan diet – they were the ones with the cool lunchboxes! If this sounds like the technique you’d like to go for, you can get all these recipes, and many more, inside my Vegan Lunchbox Vault. (And don’t worry, they’re all super quick and easy recipes! You won’t be spending hours in the kitchen cooking up gourmet lunchboxes every week!).
Find Out the Vegan Options at the Canteen
Another place that can be tricky at school is the canteen or tuck shop. Every school is different, and I’ve heard of some that have absolutely amazing vegan options available. My boys’ school, unfortunately, wasn’t one of those. We also had the problem that the canteen staff weren’t overly knowledgeable about what was and wasn’t vegan, so when my son went in to ask, they really couldn’t give him any options (which was incredibly unhelpful!). I ended up contacting the canteen to get a copy of the menu, and went through it with my son to tell him what all the vegan options were. That way next time he wanted to go to the canteen with his friends, he knew exactly what he could order.
Make Sure They’re Teacher Knows They’re Vegan
Once you’ve got lunchboxes sorted, I really recommend having a chat to their teacher for the year, too. I know that we used to put that our kids were vegan on the medical forms, but somehow that information never seemed to trickle through to their teacher, so it’s good to give them a heads up personally. I found teachers tended to fall in two camps. The first were happy to make sure there was a vegan option for any food they had at school. The others were a bit overwhelmed by the idea of having to find vegan options, but they were happy for me to provide a vegan alternative for my kids to have.
It’s really important that we make sure our vegan kids don’t miss out when it comes to all the extra treats at school – this can honestly be one of the biggest reasons why our kids decide that they don’t want to be vegan anymore. When they’re seeing all their friends get extra lollies or cupcakes, and they miss out, it’s pretty understandable that they want to stop being vegan!
Some things you can do to make sure they don’t miss out at school:
- Make some cupcakes ahead and get the teachers to put them in the freezer for birthdays so they don’t miss out. I used Funfetti cakes so that they had the fun of sprinkles since icing is a bit hard to freeze.
- Chat with the teacher about having ice blocks rather than cakes for birthdays, as these are far more allergy friendly
- When one of the teachers used to give out lollies at school, my son would get a sticker at school, and then I had some treats that he got when he came home (I wasn’t happy with him having lollies all the time at school either). That way he got something instantly at school, and then he knew he would also get a fun treat later.
When you have your child’s teacher onside, it can be much easier to make sure your kids don’t feel like their missing out at school.
Tell Their Friends’ Parents They’re Vegan
One final tip I have for helping your kids fit in at school is to make sure you let your child’s friends’ parents know they’re vegan! Absolutely all of the parents of my kids’ friends have been so amazingly helpful when it comes to my kids’ vegan diets. They often didn’t know exactly what my kids could eat, but they always went out of their way to make sure my kids had vegan options at parties and sleepovers. They even looked out for my kids at school events when I couldn’t make it. I know it can feel intimidating to tell people that you’re vegan sometimes, but I have found on the most part that parents are incredibly accommodating and welcoming (and to be honest, if they’re not, you probably don’t want your kids being friends with their kids!
These are my top tips for helping your kids feel like they fit in at school, even if they’re eating different food to their friends. These will really help your kids feel like they aren’t missing out because they’re vegan, which will help them stick with a vegan diet long term – and might even encourage their friends to try it out too!
Don’t forget, if you need help packing fun and exciting vegan lunchboxes that will make your kids the envy of the school yard, then make sure you check out my Vegan Lunchbox Vault!