GREEN GENES: Denym, Hayden & Vegas

It is with great pleasure that we introduce you to the first family in our new series 'Green Genes'. In celebration of ISSUE 02 we will be continuing our journey of interviewing inspirational vegan families from around the world, following on from our 'Mindful Mothers' spread. To get in touch with us about your vegan family (or someone you know), head to the 'contact' tab on our website.

Names/Ages:
Denym O’Neill, 25; Hayden O’Neill, 27; Vegas James O’Neill, 2 

Length of Veganism:
My husband and I have been vegan for 5 years and our little one has been vegan his entire life.

Tell us about your journey to veganism:
I still remember the moment we decided to become vegan. We had been married for a month and my husband was looking in the fridge, I remember turning to him and saying, “I want to go vegan” without knowing it we had both been thinking the exact same thing! 

What do you believe to be the benefits of living a vegan lifestyle?
Animals are free to live their life instead of being used for food. Being vegan has opened up a whole new world of amazing food more then we would have ever imagined! Our bodies are cleaner and healthier, I’ve noticed a difference in my skin and hair, and it has benefited me greatly. As a mother it influences everything I do and we take what we feed our son very seriously. The research I’ve done since becoming vegan has really helped with that. 

How did you go throughout your pregnancy?
My mind loved pregnancy, it was like a beautiful dream – my body however did not. I had some trouble coping at the beginning with high blood pressure and gestational diabetes, which turns out to be a tradition in the women of our family. Apart from the horrible glucose test everything was coming up perfect to the point of disbelief, and being vegan changed everything. Food is an amazing tool for health, I loved being pregnant almost as much as I was loving tomatoes (I’m talking breakfast lunch and dinner) if they weren’t in every meal, I wouldn’t eat it!

Did/do you have any rituals or ways to ground yourself during pregnancy?
Every morning I would lay out in the winter sun, close my eyes, feel the little movements and think of how lucky I was. Those moments were pure happiness and now when I look at his little face it takes me back to that feeling – I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

How did people react to your decision of raising your child/children vegan?
We did get a lot of support but also a lot of negativity, and when that comes from people close to you it really hurts. My entire pregnancy I was researching, I made sure I knew my stuff – so every question was answered. It took awhile but now we get nothing other than support, and even interest in learning more about our food. 

Why did you choose to raise Vegas as a vegan?
When we really thought about it there wasn’t a choice. I know from personal experience how devastating it is to learn the realities of the animal agriculture industry, and couldn’t believe that I hadn’t been given the right to choose – I never want my son to feel that. What we have learnt regarding food and what it contains has cemented our decision that raising him vegan is the kindest, healthiest way for him. He is turning into such a gentle, earth-loving soul; Proof we have made the right decision.

Do you have any plans for schooling years? (non-vegan friends, parents, teachers etc)
We hope that with research and preparation we will be met with understanding and acceptance. 

Can you recommend any resources for raising vegan children?
The biggest help I found as a mother is actually instagram, it’s full of inspiration and support. That is where I found all of my vegan mum friends, most of us live in different countries but it’s brought us all together and we have learnt so much from one another.

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Amy SinclairComment