Are Vegan Diets Healthy for Children?
Whether for health, ethical or environmental reasons, plant-based diets are becoming more and more popular these days. So much that parents may be increasingly considering whether or not to impart veganism on their kids’ diets as well. But, can children grow up healthy without meat, dairy and eggs?
I personally cringe at the thought of parents considering a vegan diet for kids. Not because it’s not possible–there’s no doubt that children can obtain the necessary nutrients and thrive on a vegan diet–but because the challenge of doing so is far greater compared to that of adults. It requires extreme attention to the diet and lots of planning from the parent or caregiver.
Unlike adults, children are in a rapid growth stage where eating enough of the right foods (in this case, the right plant-based foods) is important. You can’t just give your child sweet potato, broccoli and oats and assume they are getting all their nutrients for the day. Not getting enough of each essential nutrient, vitamin and mineral can be detrimental to a child’s growth and development. Although this can happen on any poorly-planned diet, the risks are increased on a vegan diet.
And what if you have a fussy eater on top of this?
This article reviews some of the challenges of vegan eating for a child as well as nutrients that should be carefully monitored to ensure proper nourishment and healthy development.
If you are considering a vegan diet for your child, you should consider consulting with a Registered Dietitian (specializing in Pediatrics) or your Pediatrician. Otherwise, make sure the information you read and research is coming from credible sources–true experts in the field, such as Dietitians or other medical professionals.
By: Scarlett Full, in-house Registered Dietitian