The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) released a new guide saying that toddlers can be vegan if they have a balanced diet with three protein portions a day, which can be pulses such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, and soy or products that kids usually love, like peanut butter. The guide has been developed by nutrition scientists and an advisory group of experts in early years’ nutrition.
They explain that children following vegan diets should eat nutrient-dense foods, such as avocados, tofu, bananas, nuts, seed butters, vegetable oils and vegan fat spreads. The combination of pulses and cereals is what provides essential amino acids for vegan diets, and it's the same when it comes to vegan children.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, there is no reason why a vegan diet shouldn’t provide an infant with an appropriate amount of nutrients. Overall, the institution says that a vegan diet can be extremely healthy for kids.
“It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases,” the organization states. “These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes."
Medical monitoring is also advised, as well as supplementation of eventual vitamins and minerals — for both vegan and non-vegan kids. One that deserves special attention is B12. Sara Stanner, science director at the BNF, says families making the decision to adopt vegetarian or vegan diets “need to be aware of how to balance their diet, and use supplements if needed in order to ensure children get all the nutrients they need to be healthy”.
Other recommendations are the same for vegan or non-vegan kids: eating at least five portions of veggies a day, avoiding sugar and processed products and choosing whole cereals such as brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and bread. Eating a variety of foods is also essential.
Breastfeeding is vegan!
The NHS recommends that all babies be fed breast milk exclusively up until the age of six months old. And breastfeeding your baby couldn't be more vegan! Vegans oppose exploiting animals for the production of milk, not a mother feeding her own child with her own milk.
It's when we're children that our eating habits start to be built and we're introduced to many different types of food, so it's very important to learn how to make healthy choices from an early age. In this context, a vegan diet is not only healthy but fundamental. First, because some studies show that children who consume dairy during childhood are at risk of increased cases of bone fracture and diabetes during adulthood. Meat is related to many diseases, including cancer
Moreover, the future of life on this planet is at stake! If we don't stop producing (and eating!) animal products, it will be almost impossible to reduce global warming. It's not only us saying this, it's the UN.
Please consider adopting a vegan diet or reducing the consumption of animal products for you and your whole family!