We’ve recently heard the European experts recommending against a vegan diet for kids, but is it really all that bad? In this post, we’ll be taking a closer look at whether or not to keep your kid’s diet strictly vegan.
The deal with strict a strict vegan diet for kids
Here’s the problem with vegan diets: they don’t contain all the essential nutrients humans need to survive. According to dieticians, the crux of a vegan diet isn’t so much about what your kids might be missing out on. It’s more about ensuring your kid’s diet is well planned out.
A vegan diet for kids can be acceptable and appropriate for kids. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also agrees. According to AND, appropriately planned vegan diets can be nutritionally complete. The health benefits of kids following plant-based diets include things like lower obesity rates and a decreased risk of chronic diseases later in life.
How parents can make their kid’s diet more nutritious
If you’re a parent and committed to a vegan lifestyle, you can ensure you’re feeding your kid a completely balanced diet with a little careful planning. It’s essential to include a balance of nutrient-rich foods and includes sources like soy, beans, grains, healthy fats, nuts, seeds, fruit and veggies. Your kids need enough calories in their diet, but they also need the right amounts of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals essential for healthy development.
Is there a way to make up for nutritional shortfalls?
Vegan diets have some serious potential shortfalls, but you can make up for them. For instance, you’ll have to supplement vitamin B12 since it’s only available in animal-based foods. B12 is essential for neurological function, DNA synthesis, and red blood formation.
Your kids also need vitamin D for bone mineralisation and neurological development. In a regular diet, kids get their fix of this vitamin from fortified cow’s milk or fish. But it can also be found in fortified cereals and orange juice as well as sunlight.
It might also be wise to consider supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA. These vital nutrients are required for brain and immune development and health, and they’re normally found in seafood. In vegan diets, they can be found in sources like algae, walnuts, hemp, and chia seeds.
Now let’s talk Iron. The “good” kind is usually found in red meat. Vegans and vegetarians don’t have as much iron in since they get it from lesser quality sources like dark leafy greens and other veggies. A good way to supplement iron in a vegan diet for kids is through adding fortified bread and cereals to their diets.
The issue with bones and calcium
Most kids get their calcium from sources like milk and cheese, but vegan kids can also get the right amounts by consuming tofu and other soy products. These sources include almonds, fortified fruit juices, and veggies like bok choy, kale, and turnip greens, which are all high in calcium.