Vegan mum Sarah Spence has re-written the words to well-known nursery rhyme for the benefit of her son, Maximillian.

"I don't sing three little piggies go market," says Sarah, of Crawley.

"I sing three little piggies go to Brighton."

At five months, Max too young to know what happens to the little piggies he sees heading to the slaughterhouse but Sarah says she will tell him the truth when the time is right.

"I'm passionate about animals,"

says Sarah, 27, who has five cats. "It started when I got a pet rabbit as child, then I joined the RSPCA. I think it's wrong kill animals."

Such beliefs led Sarah become vegetarian 16 years ago. Two years later, she became a vegan, which meant she had to give up eating dairy products and eggs as well as meat.

She says: "I believe cow's milk is for their calves. Anything else is exploitation."

Exact figures for the number of vegans in Britain are hard to pin down but the Vegetarian Society says surveys suggest at least five per cent of households in the UK contain a vegetarian and one per cent, a vegan.

Sarah insists she is not missing out on good, tasty food by choosing a vegan lifestyle. She says she can find animal-free alternatives for staples such as meat, bread, milk, cheese, butter, yoghurt and ice cream in the supermarket.

"I'm not into salads.

People think I only eat lettuce leaves but I love rice and pasta. I make spaghetti bolognaise with soya mince.

"I also love shepherd's pie made with soya mince too.

For breakfast, I have soya milk with my cereal and, for lunch, something like beans on toast. Bread and potatoes feature largely in my diet -

they fill me up - and lots of vegetables."

Besides eating with a clear conscience, she says a vegan diet brings with it huge health benefits. "The Government says you should eat five portions of fruit and veg day - well, I eat about ten.

"A vegan diet is also low in cholesterol and only includes the right sorts of fats. It's great for your skin too. I just feel really healthy."

Husband Daniel doesn't appear to have suffered either from following a vegetarian and vegan diet: He's a strapping 6ft 4ins-tall police officer.

Baby Max, too, is thriving on the diet.

Sarah says she had no doubts she would produce a healthy baby on a vegan diet - and neither did her GP.

"She just told me to remember to eat my greens."

Sarah sailed through her pregnancy. Her 5ft 2in-frame ballooned as she put on four stones and when Max arrived by caesarean, he was a healthy 8lb 3oz.

Sarah says she made a speedy recovery from the operation and was up and about and back at home within days. The excess weight fell off and she soon had her figure back.

She puts this down to her diet.

Max is continuing to thrive. He was breastfed and is now being weaned on a vegetarian diet of pulses, vegetables, fruits, baby rice, pasta and formula milk made from soya. He can also have yoghurt made from soya.

He is at the top of his weight and height range for his age and is wearing clothes for babies of nine to 12 months.

"He's going to be a big lad like his dad," says Sarah, beaming.

What's more, Max is a happy and contented child and quickly settled into sleeping through the night.

She believes their story should prove once and for all that a vegan diet is a wise rather than a wacky one.

"There is a lot of ignorance about the vegan diet. When people think of vegans, they think of somebody with dreadlocks and a kaftan.

We're normal people and this is our way of life.

"Max is doing well but I am going to monitor him and if I think he is lacking in anything, I'll address it then.

"But I think this is the healthiest way to be and everybody wants what's best for their child."