In general, the American public has met the vegan lifestyle with skepticism, particularly since we’ve come to associate certain nutritional values with meat and dairy. It’s one thing for able and willing adults to choose the lifestyle, but many call “child abuse” on parents that enforce the diet on their young children. Can young and growing children truly get all of their nutritional values from veganism? The answer is yes, so long as the parent is educated on the vegan diet and its nutritional requirements.

Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, head of the nutritional committee for the American Academy of Pediatrics, told the Huffington Post that the health benefits of a vegan diet include lower rates of heart disease, obesity, cholesterol, and certain types of cancer. She reinforced the fact that a vegan diet has to be done properly for both children and adults, while recommending that vegan moms consult a nutritionist or registered dietitian to make sure they’re aware of what their children could possibly be lacking and how to compensate for it.

But still, many parents aren’t convinced, citing popular vegan parenting fails including a 2007 case in Atlanta in which two vegan parents were sentenced to life in prison after their son died of malnourishment and another case this year in which an 11-month-old baby died after suffering complications from vitamin deficiencies.

Like any diet, nutritional values have to be met to ensure a healthy lifestyle. Nevertheless, child veganism might be daunting for parents that fear messing up their children’s critical years for growth.

Would you raise your child on a vegan diet? Drop your thoughts!

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16 Comments

  1. I wouldn’t put them on a vegan diet, but probably vegetarian/ pescatarian. After reading The China Study, I definitely will not be giving my child milk (seen to cause diabetes type 1 in infants if not breastfed long enough). There are sooooo many things wrong with our meat industry, but I feel that certain things should be given to children in moderation for healthy development both physically and socially/ mentally. I wouldn’t want my kids to be total outcasts at a birthday party for instance…

  2. I will definitely raise my children vegan!!!! I would rather have my child be the healthiest possible than worry about him or her being “an outcast” at a party. If you go about it the proper way then there will be no problems. I would definitely love to know the statistics of vegan children who die from malnutrition vs children on a SAD diet….all I know is I’m happy and healthy as a vegan and my child will be as well!!!!!!!!

  3. I would definitely not place my child on a vegan diet under the age of 12. I really don’t believe in forcing children into adult eating habits, but I think about that age they can decide some things for themselves. I understand that people have their personal reasons for dietary restrictions, but as the above mentioned poster stated, as a vegan your child would most likely be an outcast at social functions, which for a small one is really hard. I have a 4 year old, and he only has a few restrictions for religious and allergy related reasons. And it is very hard for him to participate in gatherings with friends and at church when there are food and treats involved. I think that some kids, but not all can benefit from a carefully followed vegetarian or pescatarian diet, but Vegan-ism is just too extreme IMO.

    • @Cy Bleu:
      My mother had a veg pregnancy and I was raised veg. My mom was a dietitian so proper nutrion was not an issue. I agree with justathought’s comments, what do you mean by adult eating habits ? For me being veg as a kid was not that big of a deal, kids find reasons to tease each other no matter what…I don’t think that peer/social pressure should carry much weight when it comes to deciding how to feed your children. Does anyone know of any parents who have been sent to jail because their children died from being fed a junk food diet ?

  4. I would not put my child on a vegan diet but my kids would not be eating anything that was not organic, gmo-free, and all natural. Meat consumption would be low but still a part of the diet. I like to travel and I have seen way too many people on vegan diets have problems while traveling to other countries.

  5. The best thing to do is to start the child off as vegetarian and let them make the choice of being vegan or not later. I know plenty of classmates who classify as vegan and all of them say they started off as vegetarian straight out the womb. It would be more realistic to start off as vegetarian for children because most mothers give their babies nutrients through breast feeding anyway. So in essence, I wouldn’t start my future child off as vegan just to be safe.

  6. I think as a baby it would be pretty difficult. But toddler or school age it is completely reasonable, provided the parents are well educated on how to provide a proper vegan diet full of nutrients.

  7. Me and my husband are transitioning to vegetarian/pescatarian while TTC (trying to conceive) so this conversation comes up how we are going to handle the pregnancy & child eating. So your comments are enhancing my perspective on the issue.

  8. @Cy Bleu I was wondering how being vegan and eating meat differ from being adult eating habits. Too many adults have poor eating habits and raise their youth on junk (chips colored drinks and processed pseudo-food. what’s the difference? I am not clear cause I hear that argument all of the time when this topic of discussion comes up.

    I have raised my youth on a non meat diet but not limited to. When they grow up and decide on their own that they want to eat meat then I will have them be responsible for that addition to their diet. However, they strive way beyond meat eaters they associate with in attention, intellect, physical stamina, mental capacity and even temperament so I do see a huge difference. They also rarely get sick and if they catch something their bodies eliminate it quickly.

    It really is a personal parents choice but there really is no difference (IMO) between an adult diet being vegan or vegetarian or meat incorporated because ultimately the adult will introduce the diet to that child…Just my 2cents
    Peace

  9. @jaded, If you think about all of the vegetables vs all of the meats the veggies out weigh the number of variety of meats. Having a baby as a vegan is a lot easier than you think. We started our youth on a vegan diet and when we took them to the pedi. they were amazed that they were on a vegan diet. They were breastfed for about the first 7-9 months we gradually incorporated soaked oats (soaked in breast milk), avocados, bananas, sweet potatoes, squash and various other foods that were a lot easier to digest for a toddler than meat. That is just from my experience. Peace

  10. @A Dub, you know my husband and I did come into encounters when were @ bday parties and what we did was spoke with the parent(s) ahead of time to find out what the menu was going to be and most of the time it was pizza or something youth appropriate for parties and we just prepared our non meat version, brought vegan cupcakes and coconut frozen cream (http://www.turtlemountain.com/products/product.php?p=so_delicious_nsa_vanilla_bean) they have other flavors also. When they other youth ate, they were given their food and really didn’t stand out. If the other youth asked what they were eating they told them that they don’t eat meat, dairy and eggs and that was pretty much that. They are 5 and 3 years old they have gone places where youth stared at there food asked and it was more like a brief educational exchange between youth.

    I can say that some of the youth there tasted their food and liked it which then led me sharing with other parents (who asked cause I never push up on folks) about the benefits and recipes we use and where to get more info. Some have even incorporated vegan meals into their lifestyle and noticed a difference as well.

    But that is just a way to still allow your youth to interact with other youth at parties and not feel like an outsider. Hoped that helped and thank for the comment. Peace

  11. My husband and I have talked about getting pregnant and when we do I will continue my vegan lifestyle.

  12. From my own experience with my wife and two young children, I’ve learned that being vegan is more of a matter of incorporating and maintaining a wholistic lifestyle rather than just following a “diet”. For example, my wife and I made a conscious decision and effort to live and raise or family simply, whether it was our approach to food, work, fun, marriage, finances, and so on. Our goals lie in raising the vibration in each and every daily endeavor, while letting go of the “things” that are clearly unhealthy on physical, mental, and spiritual levels. Mind you, the “letting go” processes takes time, discipline, support, etc., but like any other journey, it all begins with the first step.

    Considering the fact that the Standard American Diet (SAD) is one of our most deadly enemies in the country, we must take action NOW to stop the cycles of unhealthy lifestyles and eating habits, whether the decision is vegan or non-vegan.
    With our God given intuition, common (and professional) knowledge, and research, starting children on a simple, vegan diet/lifestyle is indeed possible. Again, I’m speaking from my own experience.

  13. yes, i can say that my children will with a doubt be raised vegan. of course once they are old enough to understand and decide (5-8? ish) i will allow them to eat animal products, if they want and like them.

  14. Many of you write as non-vegan is synonymous with healthy. That presumption is kinda ignorant.

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