“I don’t know how it happened exactly. I had been vegetarian since my early 20s. When I was pregnant with Tara, I found myself being more aware of veganism and decided that I wanted to raise my baby vegan.
“Vegan activitists were popping up all over social media. One of them, James Aspy, was talking about baby calves being taken away from their mothers so that the milk can be harvested instead of the baby cow having it. Also there were documentaries about the horrors of dairy farming and I didn’t want to support that in any way.
“I aligned my actions to my values and made the decision, with my husband’s support, that we wouldn’t feed her animal products. Children have so much innocence and so much compassion for animals. And I felt strongly that I couldn’t just strip her of this without her even being aware of it.
“Also, knowing how unhealthy a lot of animal-based foods are, I wanted to make sure my daughter was getting the best nutrition from a plant-based diet.”
“My husband eats everything. In the last year, he has definitely reduced his consumption, but he has witnessed animals being slaughtered and still he chooses to eat meat. I don’t try to convert him – I just try to inspire.
“When I told him I wanted to raise our child vegan, he didn’t disagree. He was actually supportive. He knew I had been vegetarian for a long time and he knew where my values were.
“We made some rules that I wouldn’t use the words ‘murder’, or ‘kill’, or other words that might be scary for her. We also agreed that we would make sure she didn’t feel better than anyone else for it and that, if she wanted to eat meat, I would be supportive.
“So far, she has never asked for his food. But sometimes she wants something that looks like food she would eat, like chips, and she might ask for it, but he explains it’s not vegan and doesn’t give it to her.
“Helping me to raise her vegan is one of the ways that he shows me that he supports and respects me. I think one of the reasons that he supports me is that she is so healthy. I make a point not to pull her away from people that are eating animal products. Her entire family are meat eaters, so she needs to be used to it.”
Every little helps
“When I was new to it, I wanted to share it and I think sometimes I came across as rude or pushy. People thought I had an ego about it, but I didn’t. I always remind myself that veganism isn’t perfection – it’s just one path to a better way of living. I think we all just have to identify our own values and make sure own actions are in line with them.
“Whether it’s saying ‘no’ to animal-tested beauty products, or shopping for local produce – as long as everyone is doing their part to leave a better planet for the next generation, that’s the important thing to me. In my ideal world, everyone would be vegan and we would be working towards animal liberation. But I know that’s an unrealistic ideal.
“It’s important to me that Tara isn’t judgmental of other people’s choices. As well as being compassionate with animals, I also want her to be compassionate with humans too.”
Tara's typical day of vegan food:
- Porridge with banana or mango
- Vegan cereal with The Bridge coconut milk and rice milk from Kibson’s
- Toast with zaater, avocado, homous
- Acai bowl
- Homemade nut butters
Lunch and dinner
- Any type of vegetable stew in a tomato sauce with legumes, served with rice, quinoa or bulgur wheat
- A sandwich with Violife vegan cheese
- Homemade pizza
- Brown rice noodles with tahina sauce, with lemon, spices and nutritional yeast
The Hippy Deli
Joumana’s vegan food delivery company was launched in summer of 2017 and is partnered with Deliveroo Additions. She says, “We have a 100-percent vegan, plant-based kitchen where we prepare and provide foods that showcase unprocessed diets. We don’t even use tofu because it is processed soy and many people are sensitive to it. Our protein sources include legumes, chickpeas, beans and nuts. Many people want to consume more plant-based meals – Hippy Deli gives them the chance to do that with healthy, delicious, wholesome and creative meals. Currently we offer an a la carte menu for deliveries, but eventually we would like to have a standalone café.” For more on Hippy Deli, follow them on Instagram: @hippydeli
Photos by Anas Thacharpadikkal