Thousands of parents all over the world ask this question and can’t really find the correct answer because there is so much controversial information available on this topic. If you are one of them, you shouldn’t worry yourself over these outdated arguments as a well-balanced vegan diet is perfectly safe for children.
Despite its growing popularity, veganism still carries a stigma of ‘unhealthiness’ coined by people who don’t understand the intricacies of a well-balanced nutrition. These arguments have long been destroyed by research that clearly proves vegan diet is healthy. However, some people still doubt whether excluding animal products entirely will prevent children from growing into happy and healthy young people.
Vegan Diet for Kids: The Most Common Concerns
Concern #1: Kids won’t get calcium.
Facts: Dairy may be an excellent source of calcium, but it’s not the only type of food that contains this essential mineral. Calcium from green leafy vegetables (kale and spinach), legumes, and especially sesame seeds is easier for the body to absorb and process. Fortified soy and rice milk with vegan oatmeal cookies will definitely go down well with children, and NOT consuming animal proteins actually helps the body to retain calcium better.
Concern #2: Plant products do not contain Vitamin B12.
Facts: There is no arguing the fact that a vegan diet doesn’t have a natural source rich enough to provide a growing child with a daily dose of this nutrient. However, it’s present in fortified juices and soy milk, and even nutritional yeast. Besides that, you can always add multivitamin and single-vitamin supplements to your kid’s diet.
Concern #3: Vegan diet will cause iron deficiency.
Facts: Vegan diet offers several excellent sources of this mineral, with legumes and green vegetables being the best options. Eating fruits and other foods rich in vitamin C (citrus fruits, bell peppers, kiwi, tomatoes, etc.) along with iron-rich foods enhances iron absorption.
Concern #4: Children don’t like eating vegetables.
Facts: Quite often, kids see eating veggies as a form of punishment, so getting them to accept a vegan diet turns into a struggle with tears and temper tantrums. In this case, you will need to get creative and come up with interesting ways to get your kids eat healthier.
Benefits of a Vegan Diet for Kids
If you are still unsure about whether switching your kids to a vegan diet is the right thing to do, consider the benefits this lifestyle change offers. Different studies indicate that children growing up on a well-balanced diet that doesn’t contain animal products are:
- Leaner than their meat-eating peers and less prone to obesity.
- Have a lower incidence of chronic diseases, including heart disease, asthma, and type 2 diabetes.
- Have a lower risk of developing dangerous diseases, including cancer and heart conditions.
So, is vegan diet actually safe for children?
Yes, it definitely is. However, like any diet, it must be well-balanced, so as parents, you will need to do a lot of meal planning to ensure your child grows to love healthy foods. As long as the little tyke gets a healthy dose of essential nutrients every day, leading a vegan lifestyle will bring him or her nothing but benefits.