- Vegan diet can be healthy for children although it may require some modifications
- Parents should be aware that protein from plants is not as easily absorbed as those from animal sources
- Children who follow vegan diets have to eat nutrient-dense foods
Cutting animal products in your diet is good for the environment, the animals and even your health. The diet can also aid in weight loss and reduce risks of certain illnesses, but is it good for your growing children?
Experts say that a vegan diet can also be healthy for children although it may require some modifications.
According to pediatric dietitian Katie Nowacki, parents should ensure that their children get all the vitamins and nutrients that their growing body needs. This is because vegans, or those who do not eat any animal, fish, poultry or other animal products like eggs, honey and dairy, as well as vegetarians who do not eat animals, are at risk of vitamin, iron, zinc and calcium deficiencies.
Meat provides easily absorbable iron, so for children who follow a vegan diet, alternative sources of iron are essential.
Nutritious alternative for meat-sources iron include beans, fortified cereals and grains, dark leafy vegetables, lentils and dried apricots.
Children’s growing body also need protein and parents should be aware that protein from plants is not as easily absorbed as those from animal sources.
Vegan children may not also be consuming enough vitamin B12, a water soluble vitamin involved in the metabolism of cells. It is found in animal by-products such as milk and eggs. Not having enough B12 may lead to an
emi a, which can make children feel weak and tired.
Children who follow vegan diets have to eat nutrient-dense foods such as bananas, tofu, avocados, seeds butters, nuts, vegan fat spreads and vegetable oils. Fortified food products and vitamin supplements can prevent nutritional deficiencies.
“You want to make sure your children are getting all the vitamins and nutrients their growing bodies require,” Nowacki said.
Of course, as parents we want that!