As awareness of cruel and exploitative farming practices spreads, and especially given that many children have particularly high levels of emotional sensitivity, many parents are now facing the novelty of one of their children declaring that they have decided to become vegan. If you have never been vegan yourself or been around many vegan people, the prospect of having to accommodate a very restrictive dietary choice in your family may fill you with dread, especially if you struggle to find the time to prepare nutritious meals as it is, or if your children are picky eaters.
Tips for When Your Child Goes Vegan
The following tips for when your child goes vegan will hopefully make this journey a little bit easier for both you and your animal-loving child.
Make sure your child takes appropriate supplements
Like everybody else, those who follow a vegan lifestyle need to make sure that their diet is varied and nutritious enough. When all animal products are removed from a human’s diet, the food group which is most likely to suffer is probably proteins. Remember that legumes – such as beans, peas and lentils – are rich in proteins, as are, weirdly enough, peanuts. Monitor your child for signs of tiredness, which could indicate that they are not ingesting enough proteins.
Even with all the monitoring and attention in the world, however, there are a few nutrients which it is virtually impossible to get enough of when following a vegan diet. The NHS website provides a comprehensive guide on how to follow a vegan diet safely and lists iron, calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D as the nutrients you will want to keep a particularly close eye on. Supplements are available – you just need to make sure that the capsules themselves are vegan friendly, as many pharmaceutical capsules are made using beef gelatine. Again, fatigue can alert you to a nutritional deficiency.
Remember that vegan treats exist!
Many people think that being vegan automatically means being healthy, but actually there are plenty of vegan junk foods out there, from chips to popcorn to many varieties of crisps. While this may be bad news for the health-conscious parent, everyone needs a pick-me-up from time to time, and your child will appreciate you keeping a few vegan-friendly treats around the house for when nothing but a sugar hit will do. Vegan chocolate and other vegan sweets will make your child happy at Easter, Christmas and during birthday parties, and it might be a good idea to send your child to friends’ parties armed with a few vegan treats in case the cake has dairy or eggs in it.
It’s not just about food
As the point about capsules indicates, following a vegan lifestyle often goes beyond dietary choices. If the reason that your child chose to become vegan is to oppose animal exploitation, you might want to alert them to the fact that some commonly used materials are also made from animal products, such as leather for shoes and bags. When you and your child next go shopping for school, follow this guide from PETA for some handy vegan recommendations.