Hey there friend, thanks for visiting my page! My name is Maria and I’m hoping to share information and helpful tips to plant-based/vegan families with children. I have been working with children all my life and I’m passionate about mindful, conscious child-rearing because I understand that children are the future. In order to improve our society and our world, we must raise people with the tools to make those improvements. We must share what we’ve learned to inform the next generation.
I attended the College of New Jersey where I studied early childhood education and psychology. I learned techniques for teaching, classroom management and child development, as well as psychological theories about behavior change and motivation. I completed several practicum in classrooms from preschool to fourth grade and I co-managed a research lab on my campus. After I earned my bachelors degrees, I went to graduate school (Emerson College in Boston, MA) to study communication sciences and disorders, the degree necessary to become a Speech Language Pathologist. There I studied the intricacies of language/communication development and disorders, rehabilitation techniques and research analysis. I also discovered the niche field known as ‘feeding therapy’. Since Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) are trained to treat swallowing disorders (i.e. dysphagia), there are a number of SLPs who do this work with children.
During my final semester, I worked at a feeding clinic for children (age 3-7) who have trouble feeding. Some had feeding tubes, some had sensory disorders and some had decided they wanted to be in control during mealtimes. There I learned how to help these children expand their diet’s repertoire, increase their volume of intake and maintain a healthy mealtime routine. It was easy to see how important it is for a child to have a healthy diet and healthy habits surrounding eating, for their health and for their parents’ peace of mind!
During this time I discovered veganism from a friend. He and I had many discussions about his vegan journey and I was shocked by all he taught me. I began informing myself by watching documentaries, reading research and listening to the experts. I was soon obsessed with reading information about animal rights, nutrition and the relationship between the meat/dairy industries and the environment. I became a vegetarian for six months before committing to veganism in June 2016. In July of 2017, I earned a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through eCornell and the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies because I wanted to better understand the science behind plant-based nutrition.
I also made the connection between meat/dairy and animal rights by watching slaughter house footage and challenging my personal beliefs about specieism, cruelty and compassion. While for many the connection is easy to make, for many it happens slowly. It is sometime easier to care about how your diet effects you (nutrition) than how it effects others (i.e. the animals). Now it’s clear to me that there is no reason for animals to suffer in the way humans have caused them to, and I am proud to have stopped contributing to the horror. This aspect of veganism is, in my opinion, the easiest to share with children because it simply makes sense. And at the end of the day, the animals giving their lives for meat and dairy must be the first reason one is vegan, because they are the first, and most drastically, effected.
I continue to learn ways I can more fully embody the vegan lifestyle, align my actions with my beliefs and my passion for sharing this information continues to grow. If you’re on my page, chances are you’re experiencing a similar journey, congratulations! Becoming a vegan truly changed my life and I’m so thankful to those who helped me along my journey.
After graduate school I moved to Poland to work as a nanny for six months and do some traveling. I began to work with an almost-three year old who had a severely restricted diet. Initially, she was eating mostly yogurt, cheese and sometimes blueberries. She would cry, wail and refuse to try new foods whenever presented. I used techniques I learned in graduate school to round out her diet, and now after only three months most of her refusal behaviors are gone, at least when she is with me (we continue to work on these behaviors during mealtime with her parents). Babe is excited to try new foods and regularly eats a variety of fruits and vegetables each day we are together. I started an Instagram to document the work we did together everyday to increase her intake of plant foods (I also post the delicious vegan meals I find all over Europe) which you can find through the link on my blog or search for @pickyplanteaters.
Through my Instagram and groups on Facebook I’ve been introduced to a community of vegan and plant-based families who are raising or transitioning their families to this lifestyle. I believe this is the future and I want to be a part of the change. I hope to provide families with practical information they can use everyday as they raise the next generation of vegans. Here are some things I plan to write about:
- Nutritional needs of children
- Summaries of current research
- Helpful tips for feeding picky eaters
- Discussion re: the social aspect of a vegan lifestyle
- Other available resources
Thank you for taking the time to visit my page and read my posts! I’d love to get to know you and your family and perhaps provide personal help. Please feel free to comment or contact me, I look forward to connecting with you.