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Have you ever wondered how you can best nurture your children with food?
Provide them with the best nutrients on this planet?
Well, when thinking of this, one of the first things that comes to mind is probably to give them tons of fruits and veggies.
Because they come from the earth, and are loaded with phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals that our bodies need to thrive.
But then, why do some people criticize vegans so heavily for not eating meat?
(Seriously, it’s literally rotting carcass. How is someone supposed to thrive eating rotting carcasses?)
Because our society, at least in the U.S., has been brainwashed to believe that we need a ton more protein than we really do; or that vegan sources of protein aren’t good enough (which is certainly not true).
As you’re reading this, I’m not going to sugar coat things.
I’m not going to tell you that everyone is going to be happy with your, or your child’s decision, to eat a vegan diet.
But, the closer your diet gets to being completely plant based; the better you’ll feel and the healthier your child will be!
**Disclaimer: I am not a registered dietitian or a professional nutritionist. I simply believe in eating well for people of all ages, and I believe that a whole foods plant based diet is eating well, whereas processed foods are not.
With that being said, I have a step by step guide to help you feel a little more confident when helping your child transition to a vegan diet!
Raising a Vegan Child Step 1: Congratulate yourself, or your child
…for wanting to eat healthier, and aiming to avoid the Standard American Diet (and all the chronic diseases that come along with SAD). You’ll also be sparing the lives of innocent animals, promoting a sustainable way of living, and many other great things!
They’ll learn to treat their body with respect by feeding it the right food.
They will be healthy from the inside out, and not have to worry about health concerns that others may eventually encounter on standard american diet.
Raising a Vegan Child Step 2: Do your research
If you know nothing about nutrition; now is the time to start learning!
Research the nutritional needs of children.
There are going to be plenty of people criticizing you for allowing your child to be vegan; you better have a response for all of the remarks they make and questions they have for you. Such as the oh so famous question of ‘how do they get enough protein without eating meat?’.
Apparently, when you tell someone that you or your child is vegan, or even vegetarian, they immediately assume the only way to get enough protein is by eating animals; they don’t believe that beans, tofu, or veggies have nearly enough!
To be polite, as you should be, calculate the amount of protein a child needs; then show them the labels on the food your child eats. For produce, you can bring up a nutrition label online….Or, tell them to mind their own business, as they should. Because you know best for your child!
Related Post: 10 Myths of a Vegan Diet (the assumptions vegans hate)
During your research, if you feel you can’t find all the information you’re looking for; don’t be afraid to reach out.
Whether you reach out to an online vegan community, nutritionist, or other people you know in real life who are vegan or on a plant based diet; there are plenty of resources out there, you may just need a little help finding them. You could even search for facebook groups, there are some vegan or plant based facebook groups that have a ton of members in them and are really supportive! (As in, if you ask a question, you won’t have to wait too long for a response, and may even get hundreds of responses!)
Raising a Vegan Child Step 3: Create a meal plan for your child
Create a meal plan for your child.
While you’re at it, create a family meal plan. If you’re not already vegan, join them on this life long venture; it’ll make it easier on them, and help you feel healthier, too!
The meal plan is to ensure proper nutrition for your child. And, to ward off those criticizers who think they know better than you; while they’re feeding their own kids processed junk and fast food.
All parents should meal plan to ensure the best nutrition for the children. Sadly, not enough parents do this. If you need help meal planning, read How to Make a Healthy Meal Plan on a Budget
Raising a Vegan Child Step 4: Buy some nutritional yeast
Seriously, go to the store and buy some. This stuff is great on vegan mac and cheese, pasta, cous cous, popcorn, or pretty much anything. Plus, it has the one vitamin that vegans may actually have to worry about getting enough of; vitamin B12.
The kind I get, which even Walmart sells, is Red Starr Nutritional Yeast Flakes. (See, you don’t even have to go to some fancy all natural, or organic store, to buy food for you vegan child.) It contains 130% daily recommended amount of vitamin B12 in one serving.
Raising a Vegan Child Step 5: Let your child’s doctor know the next time they go in
No need to make a special trip to the doctors to tell them this, unless your child has health concerns. But, if your child is in perfect health then there’s nothing to really worry about.
Always a good idea to let their doctor know, though. They may even be able to give you some recommendations!
But, don’t expect them to, most doctors aren’t required to learn a lot about nutrition. They have a medical degree, for knowing about medicine, not nutrition. Let’s just hope criticism of a vegan diet doesn’t come from the doctors office, too. It may just depend on where you live.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ~Hippocrates
When my oldest daughter was just a baby and starting to eat solids, her doctor said she could eat anything we eat.
Even more specifically, he mentioned that we could even start her eating meat.
She wasn’t even a year old yet!
I wasn’t vegan at that time, but I had been a vegetarian for about 13 years when he was telling my husband and me this information. So, there was no way I was about to feed my precious baby dead animals after keeping her on a healthy, home made baby food diet!
Raising a Vegan Child Step 6: Meal prep and save money!
If you’re big into saving money, there’s a ton of ways to do this for a vegan diet! Even more so than on SAD.
Don’t listen to those people who say they can’t eat healthy because it’s too expensive; that’s a complete lie, that they probably don’t even know.
Luckily, you don’t have to go into debt buying your child ‘special vegan food’. You’ll most likely be saving money, instead!
Ways to save money include (but aren’t limited to):
- buy fruit and veggies in bulk by buying frozen
- buy rice and beans dry and in bulk
- tofu is cheaper than meat (believe it or not, I’ve been buying a pound of tofu a week for $1.44!)
- don’t buy the processed fake meats (you don’t need them)
- buy produce that’s in season
- buy quinoa from the bulk section
- chia seeds and flaxseeds last awhile, buy in bulk to save money (use in smoothies, or chia seed pudding!)
(Honestly, these are tips that anyone can use to save money, because all of these foods should be in everyone’s home if they’re trying to eat well.)
A lot of ways that you can save money with this diet is to buy in bulk and to buy items that last a long time.
Fortunately, that’s one thing that many vegan foods have in common, with a few exceptions.
With this being said, I hope you didn’t skip step 3 (create a meal plan). You’ll need this plan to figure out what you should prep for the week.
Do you need to soak and cook beans for later in the week?
Cook a large batch of brown rice?
Grind up some flaxseeds for smoothies? (Don’t add flaxseeds whole- they’ll go right through the digestive system. If you don’t want to grind them yourself; look for flaxseed meal. Or, invest in a nutribullet, it has no problem grinding flaxseeds; while making your smoothie at the same time!)
If you help getting started meal prepping and feeding your child, or yourself, healthy nourishing food all week, go check this out!!
Raising a Vegan Child Step 7: Feed your child
Now, there’s no sense in doing all of the work and then not feeding your child a healthy vegan diet. So, make sure you’re actually feeding your child these healthy meals and snacks to help them grow up nice and strong.
Don’t forget to meal prep to make your lives a thousand times easier, especially during the busy school year!
Also, let them have some say in which meals they want, and when, during the week. Or, let them help with the meal planning.
It’s hard enough being a child and not having much say in things. Give them choices to help them feel important and in control of what they are putting into their bodies.
If they chose this way of eating, then that’s probably a big reason why; they want the say in what they eat.
Let them be the ones making the healthy choices; it’ll go a lot further, and smoother, if they have control over it. They may even feel proud to make the right choices!
And, isn’t it completely worth it? To know that your child wants to eat to be healthy. It’s such a wonderful feeling, especially knowing that you helped and made every effort to make it possible for them and ensure outstanding nutrition for their health.
Raising a Vegan Child Step 8: GO YOU!!!
Rejoice in the fact that you are supporting your child on a lightly taken path in life. A path to better health and a healthier planet. They couldn’t do this without you!
Just in case they don’t thank you for all your hard work and effort you put in, I’ll thank you for them. (*High five* ’cause I’m a 90’s kid at heart and that’s how we do.)
If you feel that there is any other step that is missing, or have any more tips for raising a vegan child; feel free to leave a comment!