How to Raise Vegan Kids?

June 26, 2019

How to Raise Vegan Kids?-Leafy Souls Vegan Blog Post

Changing to veganism is difficult for some. There is a lot of peer pressure to just stick to tradition let alone the fact that being vegan doesn’t always mean that you are not tempted by the food you once loved to eat. It really is a story of motivation, dedication, education and resistance.

But what about when you have kids? Should you be in control of what they eat or should you let them tell you what they like? This is quite a big discussion among both vegan and non-vegan (as well as vegetarian). Some of you may have seen the movie “About a Boy”. A mother, Fiona, is against processed foods and is a vegetarian. She doesn’t allow her son Marcus to go to Mcdonald's and Marcus gets very upset and expresses that he is different.

This could happen to anyone and the complexity of the situation grows when children start to get older and develop their own opinion. However, research shows that parents are sharing their experience, tips and tricks online for everyone to read and comment on.

People Ask Questions

When you choose to raise your children in an atypical way, people naturally ask questions. You will encounter some criticism and misunderstanding, but most people are just curious. Inquiries may come from your pediatrician, your kid’s teachers, and your own family members. Your kids will get questions from their friends and classmates. The media will run with shocking anomalies and make veganism sound dangerous.

Fortunately, there are a growing number of resources becoming available to vegan families today including books, podcasts, and online communities with thousands of other supportive parents who made the same decision. Be conscientious, but rest assured that it is absolutely possible to raise vegan kids in a healthy and safe way.

When They Are Babies

Healthy vegan diets may contribute to lower rates of high blood pressure and cholesterol, obesity, type two diabetes and certain types of cancer. A move to a vegan diet doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can always start with a plant-based diet and then add steps towards your ultimate goal of vegan if that feels good to you.

Making sure children getenough energy (or calories) is key to meeting needs for growth. Regularly monitor your child’s growth. When feeding your vegan baby and toddler, here are some tips from  Healthy Families to keep in mind:

  • Before 6 months, your baby only needs breastmilk and a 400 IU vitamin D supplement every day. If you cannot give breastmilk to your baby, feed your baby store-bought soy-based infant formula. Continue this until your baby is at least 2 years of age.
  • By about 6 months of age, your baby needs more nutrients, especially iron, and is ready to start solid foods. Make sure your baby’s first foods are iron-rich. Breastfeed on demand and include foods like ground nuts/seeds or nut/seed butter, avocado, whole grains, beans, peas, legumes, tofu, sweet potatoes, and healthy fats and oils with meals and snacks.
  • By 1 year of age, work towards feeding your child 3 meals and 2 to 3 snacks each day. Babies and toddlers have small tummies and high needs for energy.
  • Before 2 years of age, plant-based, milk-type beverages such as soy beverage are not recommended. They do not have enough nutrition to meet the needs of your growing baby. Note, soy beverage is different from soy-based infant formula.
  • For toddlers, include at least 3 to 4 foods out of the 4 food groups at a meal and 2 to 3 out of the 4 food groups at a snack.

An Inspiration To Others

Even though your original goal of raising a vegan family was probably centered on helping animals, saving the planet, or setting your kids up for optimal long-term health, your impact will expand much further. Whether you’re made aware of it or not, people around you will begin to reflect on their own lifestyle choices, many of whom will decide to make changes in a similar direction. Take every opportunity to help others who may ask for your guidance.

You will become a library of information about everything from what plant foods provide iron to how to make an awesome birthday cake without eggs, milk, or butter (and people won't even realize it's vegan!). Your children will be able to explain to their peers why they don’t wear leather or eat the mini pizzas from the school cafeteria. Most importantly, garnering this knowledge will help your family to feel more confident in the decision to lead a plant-centric lifestyle and to answer the questions that come with it.

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