What Does It Mean to Be Vegan?
Vegan parents should very well know that being vegan is different from merely being vegetarian. While both of them avoid animal meats, vegetarians still can eat other foods containing animal products such as dairy and eggs. Vegans, on the other hand, don’t consume any animal-based foods at all. Anything that contains animal products should be eradicated from a vegan’s diet.
However, you can use many available alternatives to replace the animal products within a recipe to make it vegan. Always double-check an ingredients list to make sure there are no animal-based contents in there. You may feel limited at first, but you will feel grateful you made the switch in the long run, and your body will thank you for it.
Is a Vegan Diet Good for Children?
Before initiating a plant-based diet to children, vegan parents may be battling whether or not this diet is good and advisable for kids. They may be worried that their children may not get all the nutrients they need for growth and development.
The truth is, a vegan diet is good and healthy for kids. However, according to an article published in Harvard Medical School, vegan parents should carefully plan their children’s diet and equip themselves with enough knowledge about this plant-based diet to make sure that even without animal products, their children can still get all the nutrients they need. Before letting your child start their vegan journey, you may want to consult with a nutritionist since some nutritional issues may cause trouble.
Read on to find out the essential points you have to remember when introducing a vegan diet to your child.
Protein and Calories for Children on a Vegan Diet
These two should be taken into consideration when planning for a vegan diet for your child.
Adult’s calorie needs are different from children, especially for those under 3 years old. Kids tend to be more active than adults, so they need to take in more energy per day to maintain healthy growth. Plant-based foods such as nuts, whole-grain granola, soy products, and avocado are excellent sources of good fats so that you can give these to your child for more energy.
We know that we could get this nutrient mostly from animal products. The protein we can get from the plant-based products may not be complete. Thus, if your children are eating a vegan diet, they should be taking in a wider variety of foods than those who can eat animal products. And yes, it is possible to obtain this vital nutrient without consuming meat and dairy. Feeding your child complete vegan proteins can include foods like buckwheat (that can be made into pancakes or waffles), quinoa (that can be used instead of rice) and chia (which makes a great kid friendly pudding). Other food combinations that will make complete proteins on a vegan diet would include whole wheat toast and nut butter, beans and rice, and pita chips with hummus.
Minerals and Vitamins
Before introducing the vegan diet to your child, make sure that you have enough knowledge about these vitamins and minerals and which plant-based products are good sources of these nutrients.
This mineral is essential for bone health, nerves, muscles, and even aids in blood clotting. Although dairy may be the primary source of calcium, you don’t have to compromise your vegan diet just to get this nutrient. Plant-based foods such as collard greens, tofu, almond milk, kale, bok choy, and broccoli are good sources of calcium, too.
Vegan parents can give their kids fortified cereals and other plant-based products such as lentils, chickpeas, beans, tofu, chia seeds, hemp seeds, cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds, ground linseed, kale, figs, raisins, quinoa, and dried apricots. These foods are good for those on a vegan diet and can help keep the blood and body healthy and strong.
A body low on Vitamin B12 may suffer from anemia and nervous system damage. Plant-based products that are good sources of this vitamin include- nutritional yeast, fortified milk (coconut rice, almond, soy), mushrooms, tempeh, and fortified breakfast cereals.
This vitamin is essential for the body to absorb calcium and phosphorus from the food we eat. We know that the sun is the main source of Vitamin D, but we can’t often stay under the sun that long so we need to find alternative sources of this vitamin from our food. However, foods which are highest in Vitamin D aren’t vegan friendly since it includes salmon, egg, yolks, and shellfish. But vegan parents need not fret because you can still get this vitamin from vegan-friendly sources such as mushroom, fortified soy, fortified cereals, fortified almond milk, fortified rice milk, and fortified orange juice.
Plants have a lot of fiber, so obtaining this nutrient for your child won’t be much of a problem for vegan parents. You can get this nutrient from plant-based foods such as refined grains, peeled fruits, and cooked vegetables.
Other Things You Should Consider
Vegan parents should also consider the emotional aspects of being on a vegan diet. If your kids are old enough, talk to them about the benefits of having a plant-based diet so they will be encouraged to see the advantages. Kids will enjoy and appreciate the vegan diet more if they know what it can do for their health and well-being. Providing your child with good knowledge of this diet is essential, so they can also respect it.
Are you thinking of introducing the vegan diet to your child? Do you have additional pointers as vegan parents? Comment in the section below and share your thoughts with us.