By Whitney Blomquist
Below you will find a brief lesson plan, resources, Power Point slides, and tips on conducting a class that teaches kids the basics of vegetarianism/veganism. Jim Dunn, a VRG volunteer, inspired this lesson plan. He wanted to teach disadvantaged at risk children that a vegan diet can improve their health and still be affordable. The hope is that this lesson plan will inspire and help you to offer similar educational courses to youth groups in your area.
The lesson plan is easily adjustable to meet the needs of students in any region. Each session can be condensed or broken into several sessions. If possible, a food sampling should be included in each session.
Click here to get Jim Dunn's presentation: What can I eat if I don't eat meat?
Activity: Introduce the class to vegetarianism/veganism. A good outline to use is Vegetarianism in a Nutshell. Explain what vegetarians and vegans eat and all the different reasons why one chooses to eat this way. Encourage the class to participate by asking them questions:
Snack: Variety of raw vegetables (carrots, broccoli, celery, and cucumbers) and crackers with different vegan dips:
Resources for Session 1:
Games for younger groups:
Activity: Presentation focusing on meatless foods prepared at home or purchased in restaurants. If possible have a vegan or vegetarian adult come speak to the class. For example, invite a chef from a local vegan restaurant, a vegan farmer from the area, or a vegan service officer (fireman, police officer, or military person). Try to find someone the class can relate to. If you are teaching a class that is largely made up of children or young adults from Latino decent, try to have a Latino adult come in to speak to the class about their veganism.
Demonstrate to the class that eating a vegetarian/vegan diet can be inexpensive, easy and tasty. Give ways to accommodate the need of low income families to prepare delicious meals inexpensively, and show the class that a vegan diet does not have to be boring or bland. Devise menu plans and do a food demo together if possible.
Snack: Vegan chili
Resources for Session 2:
Activity: Presentation on how eating vegetarian and vegan impacts animals. Discuss the mistreatment of animals to obtain animal products. Show the class a video on animal rights or have a presenter from a local animal rights organization come speak (if possible/practical). Let the class review advertising images the meat industry uses and other animal themed comics or cartoons. A good example to discuss is Chick-fil-a’s “eat more chicken” cow. Examine why most of the animals are smiling or joking around in these images. Ask the class if they think animals are really happy about being eaten/mistreated.
Consider combining this lesson with an additional lesson: “Vegetarianism and the Environment.” Discuss the impact meat consumption has on the environment. There are several lesson plans for different grade levels listed here: Environmental Resources
Snack: Mixed fruit salad
Resources for Session 3:
Activity: If possible bring in adult volunteers and break down into small groups to discuss any questions the kids may have. Encourage the kids to participate and guide the discussion. Be sure to have a list of talking points/questions should the conversation slow down.
You could also take this session to play the “Ethical questions game”. Have the class break into small groups and allow the class to discuss each question for 5-10 minutes.
Examples of questions:
Have someone from each group talk about the answers that were discussed and the conclusions that were reached. Allow the other groups to chime in with additional answers and/or questions.
Snack: Spaghetti & garlic pita chips (from Leprechaun Cake and Other Tales)
*Ask an adult to assist young kids with cutting the pita bread and using the broiler.
Activity: Come up with an activity for the class that demonstrates what they have learned. Some ideas include a cook off, an animal rights poem, a Jeopardy type game, or a veggie rap contest. Jim Dunn had a veggie rap contest for his class, where he asked the class to create a rap that promotes eating vegetables, grains, fruits, and nuts. There were first, second and third prize winners. This is a fun way to get the students actively involved in demonstrating what they have learned.
Snack: Vegan party hors d'oeuvres
Tips for a successful class:
Recipes to share with your class from Leprechaun Cake and Other Tales, by Vonnie Crist & Debra Wasserman. These recipes are great for children and young adults to try at home with supervision from their guardian.
Bina's Fruit French Toast
*Ask an adult to be in the kitchen when young children are using a blender. Remember to unplug the blender when you are finished blending the fruit mixture.
**Ask an adult to help with the griddle. Remember to use potholders or mitts when handling hot pans.
Grandma Lee's Fried Rice
*Ask an adult to be in the kitchen when you use a knife to chop vegetables and a grater to grate ginger
** Ask an adult to help with the stove. Remember to use pot holders or mitts when picking up hot pans
Uncle Berto’s Bean Tacos
*Ask an adult to be in the kitchen when young kids use a knife to chop the vegetables.
** Ask an adult to help with the stove. Remember to use pot holders or mitts when picking up hot pots.