The Identity Issue: Meet Programmer Leo Sundholm

Parker Barry

Leo SundholmName: Leo Sundholm
Role: Programmer
Toca Boca Office: Stockholm

You’re a vegan. What impact does this have on your overall identity? 

Veganism has definitely become a great part of my identity, because it doesn’t just affect what I eat and buy, but is a lifestyle choice with big political implications. It speaks greatly about what kind of world I want us to have, and is my way of trying to shape it.

What has the journey been like to adopt veganism as a core part of your identity?

My first step towards thinking about what I eat started in my early teenage years, very much because I had a close friend who was vegetarian. I hadn’t thought much about what effects on others my eating habits had before then, but I quickly felt like it was something I wanted to change.

In the beginning I didn’t really have support from my parents to go over to a vegetarian diet so I started out just going for vegetarian options in situations where I could choose. Eventually my parents started supporting the idea, and I have given them so many lectures about the importance of this that I doubt they’ll stop supporting my choices anytime soon! Some years after this I started reading a bit more about the current meat and dairy industry and came to the conclusion that eating egg, milk and other animal products was as indefensible as eating meat and became a vegan.

How can parents support their kids as they explore their own identity?

I think the key is to pay attention to what their kids like and also to understand that what their kids think is important. Let kids do the things they find really enjoyable, if not just for the fact that the kid enjoys what they do, but it is also the greatest opportunity for development. When it comes to lifestyle choices I think parents should really listen to what their kids are saying, even if it’s something the parent doesn’t immediately approve of. In those situations parents have a great opportunity to learn something new from their kid.

What advice would you give kids about developing a strong sense of their own identity? 

Keep doing what feels right to you! This might not always be as easy as it sounds. But trying to develop an identity based on what someone else expects of you will be a lot harder in the long run, and you might never feel completely comfortable with your identity.