Being a vegan is one of the most significant and impactful things you can practice in your zero waste journey. Going meatless is a radical lifestyle shift, but it is very eco-friendly since the meat industry is one of the worst contributors to carbon emissions and deforestation. One person going vegan makes a huge difference, all the more if it’s a vegan family.
But is it feasible to raise a child the vegan way? I asked Sacha El-Haj of 8 Miles From Home, a Vegan British Family currently living in Siargao Philippines. They make daily family friendly vlogs. Sacha discusses how she and her husband, Jmayel, live a low waste lifestyle and raise their 3 year old daughter, Story, in a vegan diet.
Get inspired by 8 Miles From Home’s story to go vegan and live more sustainably as much as you can!
Tell me a little bit about your family.
We are semi-nomadic family. We love to travel and experience new things but we also like to stay long enough to soak in the little details that make each country and culture special.
J & I are both 36 years old and our daughter Story Ember is 3.5 years old. We also have a beautiful 15 year old English cocker spaniel dog called Eden who is stranded In England away from us, but we hope to be reunited soon.
How did 8 Miles From Home start?
It started in 2012 when we left London to go live in Thailand with our dog Eden. We started making video stories about our experiences and eventually that became our career on YouTube.
How did you start being vegan?
We became vegetarian after I got pregnant with Story. I took a food nutrition course as well and did a lot of research on what we were eating and why. Two years later, we transitioned to a full vegan family.
When you got married, how was the wedding reception?
When we got married, we were still eating meat. But we still had vegetarian dishes because the wedding was in Morocco and their food can be served both ways quite easily.
How did you orient Story to a vegan lifestyle?
She’s never known any other way. Story has not eaten any meat at all her whole life and we always educate her about what meat is. We tell her it comes from animals and that some people eat animals, but we don’t. We also taught her to not judge others that do eat meat. Instead educate them if they question your vegan choices or upbringing. Otherwise just coexist peacefully. People will make their own food choices eventually, as we did.
When it comes to raising Story, were there struggles in guiding her to avoid meat and other such foods?
Not really, mainly because we all spend so much time together that it was easier to spend the time to focus on making satisfying, healthy vegan foods. Story eats well, we make sure she is nutritionally balanced and never goes hungry.
Story enjoys the food we make for her and she loves animals so much that the thought of eating one is just out of the question if you ask her.
What is your favorite food?
We love anything plant based and satisfying, like a wood fired vegetable pizza without cheese or Artisan dark chocolates. Of course we love hummus too, especially with freshly baked artisan bread
As travel vloggers, how do you keep your vegan diet on the road, in different places and cultures?
We normally look up the ‘happy cow’ website to See if there are any vegan restaurants nearby. If not, then we just go into any restaurant and ask for something vegetable based and if there are any animal products involved, we just ask that they don’t add them.
The best thing to do though is to stay in accommodation with a kitchen so we can cook ourselves. We do carry certain bags of nuts and seeds with us but everything else we just source from local shops and markets. It can be tough in some countries but we always manage.
How do you (as a couple and a family) acclimate or adjust to different cultures as you travel from one place to another?
We try to accept things the way they are. We are very non – confrontational and we avoid trouble as much as possible. We like to observe the cultural differences and learn from them, and we try not to judge others and the way they do things too much. If we really don’t feel comfortable in a place, we will just move on rather than try to demand the place changes to suit our wants and needs.
How do you ensure that Story gets the nourishment she needs as a growing kid, on a vegan diet?
By researching food all the time. We balance every meal she has with nuts, beans, seeds, pulses, whole foods, and of course vegetables.In the mornings her oatmeal is bigger than most adults and full of walnuts for the brain, cacao nibs for iron, chia seeds for Omega 3’s and fiber plus a dollop of nut butter and banana too. These days, she also loves smoothie bowls for lunch which are super healthy and packed with superfood ingredients.She’s often the fittest and strongest kid around and people are always surprised at how dense she is when they try to pick her up. She’s definitely getting everything she needs.
What snacks do you usually give to Story?
Walnuts, Raisins, apples, bananas, peanut butter, olives are some of the healthier things she snacks on.
Or if she’s feeling naughty, then Corn chips, salty popcorn, dark chocolate, vegan muffins, toast with PB or coconut buns. Never sweets or soda though.
Do you do meal planning? How do you prep meals for your family, especially as you have a toddler?
We have a list of go-to recipes that can be adapted depending on where we are in the world. We wrote them all down into a family recipe book called The Vege.Table which is free to download from our website.
Eat the same thing that you are giving to your kid. If it’s bland, and doesn’t taste good then don’t expect them to want to eat it. Use a variety of flavors and make it satisfying too.
Should more parents raise their kids in a vegan lifestyle? Why?
Yes, because it creates caring and compassionate humans. Plus it’s better for the planet and it makes a lot of sense that a child doesn’t actually want to eat pigs, chickens and cows etc, or drink their liquids or consume their eggs either. If they knew where their meat was really coming from, most young kids would reject it by nature.
Story is taking swimming lessons now. How do you help guide her to live less wastefully, especially as most trash commonly ends up in the oceans?
Story is an active recycler and doesn’t litter. She always likes to clean up after herself too. Now she is learning ocean conservation from her swimming tutor too and she notices when plastic is where it shouldn’t be.
Aside from being vegans, what other sustainable habits do you practice in your daily life?
We try to aim for low waste. We recycle all metals plastics and paper and our food waste goes into compost to help grow our greens.
In the future, we’d love to build an eco home that could supply all its own power and water. That’s our distant dream.
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