Some people can’t resist the allure of biting into a juicy burger. Others find the notion of a juicy burger appalling, and instead, prefer to spoon beans and sprouts into their mouth. And never the twain shall meet, right? However, without taking sides in the ongoing war between meat-eaters and those who avoid all animal-based products, it’s hard to ignore one underlying fact: veganism is clearly on the rise.
In 2014, only 1 percent of Americans identified themselves as being vegan. In 2017, three short years later, this figure rose to 6 percent. With this increase, it makes sense that the number of vegan children is also increasing. After all, if parents perceive veganism as important, then naturally they will prefer raising their kids vegan as well.
However, raising kids vegan can be challenging in a number of ways. The challenges parents face with vegan children are not only related to nutrition, but to social issues. Therefore, it’s important to appreciate the common issues that vegan children may face—in addition to the benefits veganism provides. With this in mind, the following offers some important insights for parents raising kids vegan.
The Many Benefits of Raising Kids Vegan
Parents embrace veganism for health benefits, and they likely consider a number of other reasons, too. These include concerns about the environment, issues with animal protection, and questions about the quality of other food sources.
A vegan diet reduces the chances of developing many chronic diseases. It also markedly reduces risks for child obesity. And it is a more balanced way to get important micronutrients naturally and organically.
As noted, vegan children tend to receive nutrients from a greater variety of plants. But at the same time, vegan children also gain a much deeper knowledge about nutrition. Not only do they learn what’s in various foods in terms of nutrition, but they also tend to be more involved in things like gardening, food selection, and meal preparation.
There is nothing magic about raising kids vegan and their emotional health. However, veganism does promote compassion for animals and the environment. These attributes of a vegan diet, whether intended or not, tend to broaden children’s perspectives. As a result, raising kids vegan can foster greater empathy and compassion.
Many kids may be unaware of the impact the food industry has on the environment. However, vegan children are more likely to appreciate the benefits veganism has in this regard. In addition to reducing our carbon footprint, veganism also allows a means to better address world hunger. Thus, vegan children tend to have greater social awareness of these important issues.
Common Challenges Vegan Children May Face
Many parents tend to have concerns about adequate nutrition when it comes to raising kids vegan. Thus, knowing how to ensure proper nutrition requires effort and planning. Also, given that vegan children are in the minority, they are also likely to face some challenges outside the home. The following present some common issues that may arise when raising kids vegan.
Ensuring Adequate Protein
Since kids are rapidly growing and developing, it’s important that they get adequate protein. Generally, getting enough protein on a vegan diet isn’t difficult, but it does require planning. Making sure beans, nuts, tofu and other quick and easy protein foods are available is important.
Ensuring Adequate Vitamins and Minerals
While vegan children tend to get a variety of vitamins and minerals, some may be nutrient deficient. Specifically, Vitamin B12, calcium, iron, and Vitamin D can be challenging to include in vegan children’s diets. In addition to proper planning, supplements tend to be a good idea. Likewise, seeking fortified cereals, soy milk, and almond milk is worthwhile.
Dealing with Peer Pressure
Being in a minority, vegan children may experience teasing as well as peer pressure at school. Including vegan children in conversations about why veganism is a great choice empowers them in such situations. Likewise, allowing them to participate in food selection and meal planning does the same. As a result, they will be better equipped to deal with these circumstances.
Challenges Away from Home
Naturally, parents raising kids vegan will be best able to oversee diet choices in the home. But when at school, restaurants, or at friends’ homes, things may not be so easy. Making sure vegan children have healthy snacks with them can help. In addition, being proactive by letting others know of dietary preferences can avoid such difficulties.
Veganism as a Way of Life for Children
Certainly, raising kids vegan offers health and nutritional advantages. But it also offers so much more. And while some challenges exist, these can be readily avoided or dealt with through proper planning and preparation.
Veganism is a great dietary choice for children. It also reflects a healthy lifestyle that promotes holistic health. By including them in discussions and explanations about veganism, the opportunities for their overall well-being can be tremendous.