When people decide to raise vegan kids, the debate emerges…
Veganism is more than a trend. People are subscribing to a vegan lifestyle due to the countless benefits including health (lower cholesterol levels, slimmer waistline, normal blood pressure, etc.), animal welfare, and the environment.
When people decide to raise vegan kids, however, the debate emerges. Will they subscribe their children to the same dietary lifestyle? Will it rather cause harm to children subjected to veganism in their early stage of life? Aren’t children supposed to get ample amounts of vitamins and nutrients from a variety of food including animal products?
The truth is, vegan kids exist because their parents believe in one or more of the reasons listed below:
1. Vegan kids may have slower physical growth compared to other kids their age and that’s totally fine!
Many parents are concerned that their children might not get the right amount of protein on a vegan diet. Naturally, children need protein to grow and a lot of people are thinking that their child’s height might be left behind compared to those kids of the same age who eat meat. Some studies even suggest that the growth of vegan kids is more gradual than those kids who are non-vegan.
However, that is actually a good thing. In a research made by Harvard School of Public Health in 2000, it states that nature has designed the human body to grow more gradually. Vegan children reach puberty at a later age which results in a longer lifespan compared to most people raised eating meat. Furthermore, vegan kids tend to keep up with the height of their meat-eating peers in adulthood, so height should not be a concern.
2. Plant-based foods offer the same nutrients that can be found in meat, fish and poultry.
According to Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine or PCRM, eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains provides a diet with all the nutrients we need, including plenty of protein (B12 is the one exception that needs to be supplemented). Plants provide healthy sources of fat such as fat found in avocados and nuts. Many commercial cereals and non-dairy milks available in the grocery stores are also fortified with B12, calcium and vitamin C.
3. Vegan kids do not acquire the taste for hot dogs and other processed meat.
Isn’t it cruel that vegan parents don’t let their kids enjoy hot dogs, hamburgers and fried chicken? These parents’ answer is no! Processed meat contains chemicals and compounds that are harmful to children’s health. Any parent in his right mind would not feed his child something that can lead to obesity or even cancer.
It’s true that parents are not always beside their children to check what they are munching on. What about birthday parties or play dates or school lunches where meat is commonly served to children?
This is not a problem for parents who have accustomed their children to a vegan diet since the first day of weaning. These kids do not salivate with the smell of barbecue and bacon. If someone gives them ho tdogs, they might give it a try but chances are they will not appreciate the taste.
4. There’s no drama at the dining table.
I can just imagine the agony of a mom watching her toddler handpicking carrots and lettuce out of the dishes she has prepared for the family. Some parents would mince vegetables in pieces almost invisible to the eye and trick their kids to eat vegetables. Some would frighten their kids with unrealistic stories on how they would end up if they will not eat their veggies. There’s a lot of frustration for both parents and children. Parents of vegan kids don’t have that problem because their children have been eating plants from day one and love them!
5. Those trips to McDonald’s and Apple-bee’s cost you in the long run.
Parents don’t always have the time and energy to cook for the family. Going to fast-food chains is so convenient but what about the long-term costs? An article published in Harvard Health Publications collated several studies that suggest that frequent trips to fast-food chains will result to frequent trips to the doctor in the future. Some of the adverse effects are skin allergies, asthma and obesity. A well-planned vegan meal is always cheaper.
6. It’s okay to break some family tradition.
It’s not the end if you don’t have Turkey during Thanksgiving. There are lots of cookbooks out there that can teach parents how to make sumptuous vegan meals on special occasions. Bringing up a child vegan ensures he/she won’t treat it as a loss if the family has greens on the table instead of meat.
7. Vegan kids learn how to take care of their body at a young age, even before they learn how to read and write.
If you decide to raise vegan kids, it’s important to explain to them why they have a different diet compared to their pals. You’ll be surprised that at a young age, they understand that our bodies are our temples and it’s our responsibility to taken care of ourselves.
8. They are compassionate to animals.
According to PETA Kids, vegan children tend to grow up as adults who recognize the rights and emotions of others. They usually become aware of the grueling process it takes for animals to end up in a plate, thus they would see foie grass as a product of humans’ cruelty to animals as opposed to a gastronomic luxury.
9. Vegan kids are happy.
Lifelong dietary habits are established at a young age. In fact, a study published in American Journal of Public Health shows that food choice behaviors should be established prior to sixth grade. If a no-meat diet was introduced at an early stage, vegan kids do not feel deprived or limited.
Shifting from an omnivore to a vegan diet can be a challenge for adults. Fortunately for vegan kids, they don’t have to go through the same difficult process of giving up old bad habits for new healthy, compassionate ones. Dr. Robert Lehman from the Pediatric Affiliates of Hampton Roads explained that introducing a certain diet to a child in the early stages of life forms habits that they will likely continue to practice long-term. Dr. Lehman says, “Healthy parental habits greatly influence the patterns that children develop and continue to demonstrate until adolescence and adulthood. In addition to exposure and intake of nutritious food choices, family mealtimes are a good medium to provide structure and security to children in helping them grow into healthy, well-adjusted adults.”