Is it safe to raise a vegan kid? Whether we like it or not, this question can be the topic of some controversy. And the headlines of vegan parents underfeeding their children definitely aren’t helping!
With that in mind, there’s a very big chance that someone in your immediate or extended circle will express concern about your choice to raise a vegan kid.
And coming up with ways to address their concerns on the fly can be challenging, even for a vegan registered dietitian! What I have personally found is that preparation is key to most effectively easing people’s concerns.
That’s why in this article, I’ve decided to share the way I personally respond to some of the most common concerns about raising a child on a vegan diet.
How to respond to people concerned about raising your vegan kid
As a vegan registered dietitian, I concede that there’s a big chance that my professional background reduces the amount of flack I get about my family’s diet choices.
That said, I like to believe that the way I choose to respond to people’s questions also contributes to easing their concerns about a vegan diet for kids.
In the video below, you’ll learn about the 4 key points I keep in mind when addressing people’s concerns.
In sum: Raising a kid on a vegan diet can be a controversial topic. The four principles outlined in this video have personally helped me effectively ease most people’s concerns.
Frequently asked questions
Below, you’ll find a list of the most frequently asked questions I’ve come across concerning a vegan diet for kids and my personal responses to them.
I will update this list over time. So if you have any particular concerns that you’d like for me to address, leave them in the comments below.
1. How can you make that choice for your child?
As parents, I believe it is our duty to make choices for our kids, whether that’s about the clothes they wear, the school they attend, the amount of times they will bathe per week or the food they will be offered.
I view the decision to raise a child vegan no different than raising a child according to any other belief. Each parent has the privilege of making the choices they believe are best for their families, and most in line with their beliefs.
2. Isn’t a vegan diet unhealthy or even dangerous for kids?
It can be. But this is true for any poorly planned diet, vegan or not. That’s why I encourage all parents, including vegan parents, to speak to a registered dietitian before introducing foods to their little ones.
Parents wishing to raise vegan kids will likely benefit most from seeking-out a registered dietitian familiar with plant-based diets.
This step will help ensure that your child meets their daily nutrient requirements and reduce the likelihood of unpleasant surprises down the road.
With that said, increasingly more organizations are coming out with statements endorsing well-planned vegan diets for all life-stages, including infancy and childhood (1, 2, 3).
What’s more, there are an increasing number of dietitians specializing in this field, and many have come out with science-based books discussing how to safely raise a child on a vegan diet.
I’ve recently written an article outlining my favorite vegan nutrition books, so feel free to check it out and share the info with those around you that are expressing concerns.
3. What if your child wants to taste meat when they grow up?
That will be their choice to make. Every child will eventually grow-up to make their own decisions.
I simply hope that the upbringing I will have provided my child with, and the information I will have shared with them, will ultimately help them be conscious of the implications of their choices, regardless of what those choices may be.
4. What if your vegan kid feels left out for eating in a different way than everyone else?
Diversity is something I believe needs to be celebrated, not frowned upon. And this is a value I plan on sharing with my child early on.
We will answer their questions about why their food is different from that of others honestly, in an age-appropriate manner so that they can feel empowered to share this information with anyone making comments about their diet.
We are also planning on providing our child with vegan-alternatives to the non-vegan foods they may come across in social settings, from sleepovers to birthday parties. And we’ll be sure to make enough extras to be shared with friends!
5. Aren’t you worried about poor growth or nutrient deficiencies?
A well-planned vegan diet can provide a child with all the nutrients they need. As a registered dietitian, I certainly have the knowledge to ensure that my child’s diet is rich in nutrients and remains well-balanced.
My little one’s blood values are all well within the normal ranges and they have hit all of the normal milestones. Moreover, their paediatrician is supportive of our diet choices and satisfied with my child’s current growth and overall development.
6. Isn’t it better to provide nutrients from foods rather than supplements?
Whenever possible, I absolutely prefer a foods-first approach. That said, I don’t believe this has to come at the expense of other living beings or the environment if there is an adequate alternative available.
This is why I have no qualms about making use of necessary supplements to complement a fully plant-based diet.
7. But what about all those stories of kids harmed by a vegan diet?
I’m sure that all parents can agree that the death of a child is a devastating event. And arguably even more so in cases where it could have been prevented.
There’s also no denying that some vegan parents’ dietary choices have unwillingly put their children in harm’s way.
That said, it’s important to realize that the diet these parents fed their children in no way constitutes a well-balanced, calorie-sufficient, vegan diet.
I find it difficult to comment on the circumstances that may have led these parents to make the choices they have made. However, I do believe that nutrition education is an aspect lacking in most of these cases.
This is why I strongly encourage any vegan parent wishing to raise a child on a vegan diet to avoid taking advice from unqualified “diet gurus” and instead, discuss this topic with a registered dietitian specializing in plant-based diets.
In sum: These are my personal responses, as a vegan registered dietitian, to common concerns about a vegan diet for kids. If I haven’t addressed your concern, leave it in the comments below so I can add it to the list.
To sum it up
A well-planned vegan diet can be an appropriate choice for children. Yet, raising a child on a vegan diet can cause those around you to express concern, and I believe that these concerns are worth addressing.
The way you choose to perceive and respond to these concerns can either ease or intensify them. I hope that the tips shared above will help you achieve the former rather than the latter.
How do you respond to people expressing concern about raising your kid on a vegan diet? Let me know in the comments below.
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