by Corey Bivins
When I tell people that I homeschool my children, their response is something like "oh, you must be a saint, I wish I could do that!" If there's one thing I have learned over the years, it's that when you choose to do things that aren't mainstream, be prepared to answer questions regarding misconceptions and assumptions by the misinformed. So, I politely smile and assure them that they could, as I mentally prepare myself to dispel the myths of home schoolers. "Do you really think you're qualified to educate your children?" "Aren't you worried about socialization?" "Don't you get tired of being stuck at home?" Fortunately, I know these questions come from ignorance of homeschooling and I have done my homework and am prepared to enlighten my audience with the facts and truths of homeschooling.
I carry the same attitude about mine and my families food choices. I don't eat meat or dairy and I have chosen to raise my children vegetarian inside our home. But, when folks get wind of our food choices, I am again prepared for the onslaught of the vegetarian myths. "Aren't you worried you're not getting enough protein?" "Do you get sick a lot?" "Don't children need meat in order to grow properly?" Thankfully, to books like Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina and Simply Vegan by Debra Wasserman and Reed Mangels, I feel I am well versed in meat-free prose to share my knowledge with others in the hopes of easing their fears.
As you can see, home schoolers and vegetarians have several similarities: they are both unconventional, they are both misunderstood, they are both intriguing to those who are unfamiliar with them, and they both have demands for more open-mindedness. I have put together a list of vegetarian related resources for home schooled families to assist in your furthering education of yourselves, your children, and those around you.
www.teachkind.org, a division of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is a resource to help students become kinder, more compassionate individuals. There are free lessons, materials, and alternatives to dissection.
www.foodstudies.org offers a Food is Elementary curriculum focusing on plant-based nutrition with lessons plans for pre-k through adult.
www.globalvillageschool.org online and text-based curriculum integrating peace, justice, diversity, and sustainability through the "Whole Child, Healthy Planet" curriculum.
www.mistyforesthomeschool.com is a home education center in Orlando, Florida for kids K-6. One of the co-directors in a Plant Based Nutrition Educator and past classes included Plant Based Nutrition.
http://vegbooks.org is a website dedicated to assisting parents in finding books and movies that support vegetarian and vegan values.
The Vegetarian Resource Journal has several lesson plans and games geared towards veggie kids:
I Love Animals and Broccoli Coloring Book & Activity Book.
http://www.vrg.org/family/lessonplan.htm lesson plans for grades 1 & 2 to accompany the I Love Animals & Broccoli Coloring Book.
http://www.vrg.org/family/memory_cards_math_game1.php veggie counting game for kids.
http://www.vrg.org/family/memory_cards.php veggie-friendly memory cards for kids.
http://www.vrg.org/environment/K-2_lesson_plan_clean_water.php lesson plans for grades K-2 regarding water usage.
http://www.vrg.org/essay/ annual essay contest on any aspect of vegetarianism open to everyone under 18 years old.
http://www.vrg.org/student/scholar.htm $5000 college scholarship to graduating high school students who have promoted vegetarianism in their community (several home schooled students have entered this).
http://www.vrg.org/teen/ FAQs for vegetarian teens and their parents. Topics range from
veg-friendly colleges to vegetarian athletes to vegan 4-Hers.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/vrgparents/ support group for vegetarian/vegan parents or even parents of kids who want to be vegetarian/vegan. Parents share information on vegetarian/vegan food, restaurants, local events, and even ideas for picky eaters.