Thursday, June 11, 2009

So Long, and Thanks for All the Junk!

...Junk food that is. Ever notice how every day is a "special day" in our country, designed to cram children full of empty calories, excess sugar, and mutated fats?
As a mother of vegan children I am sometimes asked "but isn't okay just once in a while for them to have what everyone else is having?" And to be fair, my kids do eat an awful lot of junk in my opinion, just like the other kids...but I really do try to reserve it for special occasions...and it has to be vegan (with the exception of honey in commercial baked goods as I've discussed in the past--a compromise with my husband).
The problem is if you take the average family with 2 kids, factor in half a dozen holidays, family birthdays, extended family celebrations, school & friend birthday parties, etc., you probably come out with some sort of "special occasion" about every other day. Add to that marketing strategies that target kids with cereals and drinks with the sugar equivalent of a candy bar, and school lunches that could cause high cholesterol in a first grader...well, maybe you see my point. Enough is enough!
Why does junk food have to be the center of every celebration? Why not healthier foods? Why not non-food items?
Our preschool is better than most I think, but every parent--myself included--is guilty of occasionally bringing a less-than-stellar snack nutritionally speaking at times. But "once in a while" multiplied by a whole classroom, a whole school, a whole neighborhood...we're back at every other day, or even every other meal, being mostly junk. How do we end this vicious cycle? I'll leave that question open...and when I find a functional answer, I'll let you know...

Ryan's lunch: crescent roll sandwich w/smoked Tofurky, soy cheese & lettuce; steamed broccoli; strawberries & blueberries; chocolate chip cookie; a pickle; carrot sticks.

AJ's class was making a special snack for the last day of school. They were smashing Oreo cookies & mixing them with chocolate pudding to make "dirt" and then adding gummy worms to the dirt...and eating it?! Blech. Anyhow, I dutifully blew money we didn't have and bought store brand vegan chocolate sandwich cookies, Zen Soy chocolate pudding & found Annie's jelly bunnies fruit snacks on sale (I was gonna do shoelace licorice, but couldn't find any). He ate a popsicle as part of the graduation celebration.

Nate's class was making fruit salad for snack (thank goodness!) and english muffin pizzas for their lunches. So I sent along a whole wheat english muffin, a container of vegan tomato sauce, and grated some Vegan Gourmet cheese. His class followed their end of the year celebration with popsicles as well...could have been worse!

AJ and Nate helped pack
up 1/2 a dozen chocolate
chip cookies we'd made to
give to their teachers.

And AJ drew a lovely
picture to give to his
best friend at school.
(Sadly they probably
won't be seeing each-
other again due to living
in different towns and
because she has such a
busy extracurricular
activity schedule.)

The director of the preschool
and AJ's teacher presented
each child with a certificate,
a young tree, a book about
trees (same one that Ryan
received last year when he
graduated as AJ so tactfully
pointed out!), and a portfolio
of artwork and photos from
the schoolyear. AJ was
excited about the tree and
loved showing off his

Meanwhile in Nate's class
(yes I was playing musical
classrooms) the kids were
enjoying their self-made
pizzas. Here's Nate really
getting into it!

While the toddlers finished
up their lunches, Maia
introduced herself to one
of her future classmates.
Believe it or not we'll be
signing her up for preschool
this fall for the incoming
2010 toddler class! By the
time she graduates we'll
have spent 7 years at this

Nate checked out the
finished gifts to his
teachers of handprint
Then he had his first
ever double popsicle.
I thought for sure
someone would separate
the two sticks for 2 and 3
year olds, but nope, they
got the whole thing!
Luckily Nate was happy
to share his with both AJ
(who had already finished
in his classroom and came
to visit his old room and
teacher) and with Maia...
who was wearing a white
shirt...thanks for the extra
Fun times.


delilah s. dawson said...

I'm with you on this one! I totally hate how other folks (from relatives to other moms) justify their own or their kids indulgences by picking on our refusal to let Cleo eat junk. If she gets really excited about a graham cracker, why on earth does she need a Little Debbie Snack Cake? Why would a great-grandfather with colon cancer and diabetes be so keen to give her a bag of candy??? And then tell me to let her "enjoy life, for once..."

Yup, it's one of my biggest pet peeves. Grr.

Unknown said...

Yes, this drives me crazy constantly. Add to all the special occasions the fact that at Kidlet's school they are given candy as reward for behaviors etc. I do not like that at all. Tsk tsk.

Kidlet behaves at home and I don't give him candies so I am at a loss as to why they think it's okay to reward kids that way. Sets them up for big issues as adults.

Notwasted said...

I would call tofu junk food.

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean. Sometimes you just have to put your food down and say 'no' and ignore the 'its won't hurt just once' comments!

veganf said...

Notwasted - If you mean that you don't care for tofu, maybe you just haven't had it prepared very well!

If you're skeptical about it's safety, I am not going to pick a fight with you. But I have found no reputable scientific studies showing any ill-effects from soy consumption. True, I do not use soymilk, except in baking. I try to avoid replacing meats on a daily basis with soy substitutes.

John Robbins article about soy is one I often recommend:

At our house we love tofu, though I certainly wouldn't call it health food. But it can be part of a balanced vegan diet in my opinion.

Notwasted said...

My thing with soy is that it is too over processed and over consumed by everyone (not to mention the amount of pesticides that go into it)..
I'm not here to argue at all.
I just wouldn't eat the stuff.