Many of the vegan parents have a common question in their minds as to whether or not vegan diets are healthy for their children. If you are one such parent, then you might even wonder if a vegan diet can provide all the essential nutrients required for the overall development of your kid. The answer is yes, vegan diets are absolutely healthy for your child and vegan children can also get all the essential nutrients required for their overall development.
What is a Vegan Diet?
If you want to know more about raising a vegan child properly then, continue reading till the end.
A vegan diet is a diet that excludes the consumption of any type of food product that is derived from animals such as meat, eggs and dairy products. It includes the consumption of only plant-based food products such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, leafy greens, legumes and seeds.
Vegan Diet Vs Vegetarian Diet
There was a time when the vegetarian culture was emerging around the world. But, soon after that arrived the culture of veganism and it has become very popular in a short period of time. People around the world are accepting the culture of veganism along with vegetarianism in order to switch to a healthier lifestyle. Many of them have already adopted this culture while many are thinking of giving it a try.
Now, what exactly is the difference between a Vegetarian Diet and a Vegan Diet? The answer is simple, vegans fall under the category of vegetarians but with a little more diet restrictions, especially when it comes to the consumption of animal-based food products.
A vegetarian diet excludes the consumption of meat or any kind of animal products but, they might consume dairy products and eggs. But, a vegan diet not just excludes the consumption of meat but any food product that is derived from animals or animal skin including eggs, milk, honey or any other similar product.
Is a Vegan Diet Healthy for Children?
You must be wondering whether a Vegan diet can provide all the essential nutrients required for the development and growth of your child. Well, you don’t need to worry because with the right planning and proper knowledge, raising a vegan child can become really easy. So, the answer is: Yes a vegan diet is healthy for children if done right.
The biggest concern with vegan diets in early childhood is the nutritional inadequacy. Therefore, parents need to be very well informed about the diet of their vegan children and if they fail to do so then some nutrients might fall short such as proteins, Vitamin D, iron, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids and probably Vitamin B12 and this can affect the growth of the children.
Benefits of a Vegan Diet for Children
A vegan diet can have several health benefits and it plays a significant role in enabling people across the world to live a healthier lifestyle.
Recently, a few studies have shown that a vegan diet can help vegan children in the following ways:
- It promotes fats loss
- A vegan diet lowers the cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of heart diseases later in life.
- A vegan diet reduces the chances of getting certain types of cancer such as colon cancer.
- A vegan diet is richer in certain nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, folate along with Vitamins A, C and E.
What does a Vegan Diet lack?
There are some nutrients that a vegan diet cannot provide in adequate amounts to your kid’s body. It becomes very important for you to be aware of the nutrients that your kid’s diet is lacking and search for their alternatives to maintain their overall health and physical performance.
Here are some nutrients that commonly lack in vegan diets:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- Heme Iron
As we know that vegan diets usually lack certain types of nutrients that are required for the growth and development of children and the need for these nutrients can be fulfilled by adding some supplements to your child’s diet.
Here are some nutrients that you need to supplement:
- Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is necessary for the growth and functioning of a body, including protein metabolism along with the formation of oxygen-transporting Red Blood Cells. It also contributes to the health of your kid’s nervous system and its deficiency can lead to anaemia, nervous system damage, and bone and heart diseases. The only way in which vegan children can get an adequate amount of Vitamin B12 is by consuming B12 fortified foods such as plant milks and soy products or Vitamin B12 supplements.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D enhances the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from your kid’s gut and it also contributes to the functioning of his/her body including memory, immune function, mood and muscle recovery. But unfortunately, very few food products contain Vitamin D naturally. The best way of getting Vitamin D is exposure to sunlight.
- Calcium: Calcium is necessary for your child’s bone and teeth health. It also contributes to muscle function, heart health and nerve signaling. According to some researches, most of the vegan children don’t get enough calcium through their diet and hence, they need to include some Calcium supplements in their diet.
- Zinc: Zinc is essential a kid’s immune function, metabolism and the repair of body cells. As zinc is generally found in dairy-based foods and seafood, hence, zinc supplements are needed to be added to your vegan child’s diet.
Should you consult a nutritionist?
Consulting a nutritionist before getting your kid started on a vegan diet is highly recommended. This is because no matter how well you follow the diet, your kid might not be suited to the diet in the first place. So, visit a nutritionist before trying anything out.
Raising vegan children can be challenging for many parents. But, if you have a proper knowledge of vegan nutrition and can implement all the essential nutrients in your kid’s vegan diet then, it can help you in the long run for gifting him/her a much healthier lifestyle.