Parenting can be an exciting and all encompassing journey, especially when it’s your first time. More and more parents are now making the decision to raise their children on a vegan diet. In fact, recently it was reported that Prince Harry and Princess Meghan are raising their children on a predominantly plant-based diet.
Perhaps you have made a similar decision - whether this is a lifestyle change you are making as a whole family or you are raising your child in the same lifestyle choice you have already made, being a vegan family can practically make life easier at mealtimes.
Although vegan living has grown in popularity in recent years, there has been misinformation in the past about how healthy a vegan diet is for children. This can leave vegan parents with many questions about how to raise your children as vegans. We wanted to answer five of the most common questions we get from vegan parents.
How can I have a healthy pregnancy following a vegan diet?
Whatever your diet, mums-to-be need to make sure they get a varied and balanced diet during pregnancy to give the baby all of the nutrients they need to grow and develop. It is perfectly possible to have a healthy pregnancy following a vegan diet and many women do, every day!
There are some important nutrients that every pregnant mum needs to be aware of and ensure they get enough of, either through their diet or supplementation. For example, governments recommend that all pregnant women supplement with Folic Acid, which is vital for baby’s brain and spine development. Also it’s important to get enough iron, from leafy greens, to ensure you don’t become anaemic during pregnancy.
During a vegan pregnancy it is also important to supplement Vitamin B12, as this is not present in a plant-based diet, and is vital for energy and also releasing the goodness of folic acid. You can supplement with fortified cereals or a vegan B12 supplement.
It is also important to ensure you are getting enough Vitamin D3, for developing bones and muscles.
Are there any good vegan breastfeeding supplements?
Pregnancy Care, Vegetology’s specially formulated supplement for mum from conception to breastfeeding, contains 21 vitamins and minerals suitable for breastfeeding supplementation. As well as including Vitamin D3 and Vitamin B12 it also includes ingredients like ginger which can help to deal with digestion issues.
Should I supplement my child’s vegan diet?
The first thing to say is that government advice recommends considering supplementing every child’s diet, whether they are vegan or not. The truth is, children can be fussy eaters and can end up lacking certain nutrients. There are also some vitamins and minerals that you cannot get from a plant-based diet so it’s important to consider supplements or fortified foods.
Here at Vegetology, we have a vegan Vitamin D3 supplement, available in a spray formula making it ideal to spray onto children’s food or directly into the mouth. Vitamin D is recommended for all children, at least until the age of 5 years old.
Our vegan Omega-3 DHA and EPA comes in a liquid form (as well as capsules) making it perfect for stirring into food or baby formula. Omega-3 DHA and EPA aren’t present in plants and Omega-3 ALA which is present in flax and chia is a less effective form of the nutrient.
Vitamin B12 is often found in fortified children’s foods like cereal and so can be sourced without the need for supplements. Currently we are working on a multivitamin for children which includes our vegan Vitamin D3. There are other vegan multivitamins designed for children available.
What are the best vegan meals for children?
The good news is that it has never been easier to be a vegan parent - there are loads of great resources, recipe books, influencers and blogs to get inspiration from when it comes to meal times. The Vegan Society has a whole page of recipes for everything from baby rusks to birthday cake and vegan jelly! You can also download guides for different aged children to make sure as vegan parents you are giving your child all the nutrients they need at each age.
Here at Vegetology, we have a free guide to download for parents wanting to ensure you get the nutrients you need into meal times
Apps like Food Monster offer monthly and annual subscriptions for access to thousands of vegan recipes for the whole family:
On Instagram, you can follow hashtags like #WhatVeganKidsEat to get inspiration for family meals.
How can I best explain my choice to raise my child as vegan to non-vegans?
A common concern from vegan parents choosing to raise their children as vegans is how they will explain this decision to friends and family members who are non-vegans. People often have health concerns on behalf of your children, which can be frustrating when you’ve researched and put a lot of consideration into your choices as a parent. There is a common misconception that protein and calcium can only be found in meat and dairy. This isn’t accurate and some quick googling can arm you with the right facts to share with those who have concerns.
In terms of people asking you why you are putting your beliefs on your children or raising them in a ‘weird’ way, the simplest answer is that you are their parents. You are tasked with guiding your children in their younger years, before giving them options as they get older. People do this all the time - with everything from religion to their moral compass. You are educating your child in your beliefs - when they are older they may choose to eat differently but this is a healthy, ethical and nutritious choice for now.
Finally, it’s really important to say that you should never feel like you have to defend the choice to raise your children as vegans. Just in the same way that you would refuse your child alcohol or cigarettes, you are making the choice you feel is right for your family. It can be difficult, especially with family, to explain this choice. Asking people to read up on veganism themselves and come back with specific questions can diffuse a potential conflict.
Make the most of vegan mealtimes
Download our free ebook on how you can make your mealtimes more nutritious for the whole family:
This delicious vegan sweet potato and spinach daal recipe is perfect for a quick, healthy, and hearty meal.
Modern living at times can feel exhausting! Ever found yourself feeling busy, stressed and wishing you had more hours in the day? This can leave you lacking energy and suffering from general fatigue.