There is a misconception among many who do not understand vegan diets that raising vegan children is unhealthy for the child, takes away from childhood fun, or can lead to social stigma. However, vegan children tend to eat healthier than meat eating children do as they have a diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables. Even vegan junk food is healthier, tending to be baked rather than fried and using whole grains rather than processed starches.
Dr. Spock, himself, raised controversy by advising parents to raise all children over 2 with a vegan diet. Vegan children are exposed to less food that causes allergies and tend not to have the obesity problems that their meat-eating counterparts have.
Balancing the Needs of the Vegan Child
Having a vegan child involves carefully balancing the needs of a growing child with the no-animal product vegan diet. There are many meat substitutes available in supermarkets to give kids a more “traditional” diet such as pizza with soy cheese, grilled cheese with soy cheese, soy-based chicken tenders and tofu hot dogs. There are also many kids’ favorites that are still vegan such as vegan cookies, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and spaghetti with sauce. You can still give you child an interesting diet even if they are vegan.
Common Myths Regarding Vegan Children
Many people worry about social stigmas or taking away of childhood experiences related to raising vegan children. This doesn’t have to be the case. You don’t need to send your child to school with tofu every day to give them a healthy diet. You can send them with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, juice, a vegan cookie and some carrot sticks and there would be nothing to make the child’s lunch stand out from any others. For parties, you can send a vegan dish with your child for everyone to share so your child has something to eat. Holidays may be the hardest because of their association with chocolate and gelatin based candy. However, substitutes for these candies can be found.
Things to Remember When Raising a Vegan Child
There are a couple of things that you need to take into consideration when raising vegan children. It is important to make sure your child is eating enough calories every day, as a vegan diet is lower in calories. Fortunately, feeding your child a well-balanced vegan diet can give them the calories they need. There are also many vitamins and minerals that children eating a meat-based diet get from meat and dairy such as vitamin B12, vitamin D and calcium. Finding good vitamin supplements and vitamin and mineral fortified vegan products can help with this.
There are many websites available that sell vegan-friendly shoes and clothing, and a good guide of vegan clothing stores is found on PETA’s website. However, one of the main sites for vegan children’s wear closed in April 2012. It is suggested that you ask at vegan clothing stores if they have children’s sizes.
Having a vegan lifestyle is more ethical towards animals, saves the environment and is all around healthier. While the idea of raising vegan children is controversial, it can be done safely so that your child is healthy and gets all the nutrients they need. Vegan children don’t have to miss out on childhood favorites such as baked goods, hot dogs or candy. Vegan children tend to be healthier and have more energy and can still have childhood fun.
Written by: Andrea Gressman