A well balanced vegan diet, consisting of a wide range of plant wholefoods, can meet all the nutritional needs for vegan children, as confirmed by The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (The world’s largest body of food and nutrition professionals:
“It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes” (2016)
Many vegan children all over the world are proving that YES children can be healthy and thrive on a plant based vegan diet: tall, healthy, strong, smart. The important thing to note is that the child’s diet must be BALANCED and HEALTHY. A balanced and healthy vegan diet consists of a variety of fruit, vegetables, grains and plant based protein sources, with limited intakes of processed foods and sugar.
Furthermore, the World Health Organisation classes processed meats such as bacon, ham and sausages as a type 1 carcinogen, and other red meat as “probably carcinogenic”, products that a vegan child’s diet will most definitely not include, and therefore give vegan children a head start in nutrition.
But what about….
Protein ? Vegans get protein from plant protein. Since 10-20% of calories in most plant foods are from protein, and humans need only 10-15% of their calories from protein, requirements are easily met with a well balanced diet.The biggest and strongest animals in the world – gorillas and elephants – are herbivores too! Some of the highest sources of plant proteins are: pumpkin seeds, peanut butter, oats, chia seeds, almonds, tofu, soy and legumes.
Calcium ? Calcium is naturally widespread in the plant kingdom, and so our calcium needs can be met with whole plant foods (and, optionally, calcium fortified foods and drinks). Some of the richest plant sources of calcium are: leafy greens, nuts, sesame seeds, beans, and fortified plant milks, soy products and cereals.
Iron ? There are plenty of plant foods containing this mineral, and studies have proven that hemoglobin values are similar to those found in non-vegans. Good plant sources of iron include lentils, chickpeas, beans, tofu, cashew nuts, chia seeds, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, kale, dried apricots, raisins, quinoa and fortified breakfast cereal. Vitamin C increases iron absorption. Good sources of vitamin C include broccoli, kiwifruit, oranges, strawberries and pineapple.
Vitamin B12 ? B12 is manufactured by certain types of bacteria found in nature. Because plants vary widely in their levels of bacteria (especially washed vegetables) we cannot rely on plant foods to meet our B12 needs. Vegans get their B12 by consuming supplements and B12 fortified foods (such as plant milks and soy products). Non Vegans are also at risk of low B12 levels too. Many animal products only have B12 in them because the animal’s feed or the end product is supplemented.
Omega-3 fatty acids ? Omega-3’s, important for infant and child development, are present in several plant foods, including flaxseeds (whole, ground or oil), hemp products, canola oil, walnuts, tofu and leafy green vegetables. Flaxseed Oil is the highest source by far.
For more information, visit nutritionfacts.org