Children and Vegan Lifestyles
By Randi Morse
The advancement of technology and new information about nutrition has created a whole new generation of people who prefer to eat vegan. A vegan diet is classified as one that is made up only of plant-based products. There is no meat, dairy, eggs, or fish in a vegan diet. A vegan diet is different from a vegetarian diet and, as such, has different health benefits and concerns associated with it. It's important to be educated about living a healthy vegan lifestyle before you adopt that lifestyle. This is especially true if you have children as children have different nutritional needs than adults do.
Children's Dietary Needs
There are a number of things a parent needs to be concerned with if they have a child on a vegan diet.
Protein - Protein is extremely important for children as it helps to build their muscle and is vital for many different body processes. Because most people get protein from animals, a vegan diet needs to be creative in order to add enough protein to give the body the amount of protein it needs. Foods like nuts, soy products, and whole-grain products are great source of protein.
Calories - Children require a specific amount of calories in order to grow healthy. The amount of calories they require depends on their age, activity level, and size. Things like granola, whole-grain products, and nut butters can add calories to a child's diet without breaking the vegan lifestyle.
Calcium - Calcium is extremely important for young children as it helps to keep growing bones healthy. Children living a vegan lifestyle can not have dairy, but they can have foods like broccoli, kale, and bok choy. You can also find items like soy milk and almond milk that have been fortified with calcium in your local supermarket.
Iron - Iron helps to keep our blood and body healthy and strong, and while you can find some products that have been fortified with iron, you may want to consider giving your child a children's multivitamin that includes an iron supplement. This may be a good subject to speak with your child's pediatrician about.
Fiber - People living a vegan lifestyle often get too much fiber in their diet, which can cause a number of bodily issues. To lower the fiber intake for your child, try giving them peeled fruits and cooked vegetables as it lowers the amount of fiber they will consume.
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