When a family is ready to transition kids to a plant-based diet I hear both sides of the coin. For some, it is a super simple no-brainer for the kids but more difficult for the parents. And other families it is the opposite.
If you read my other post about 6 foods to help you transition to a plant-based diet, this absolutely piggy backs of that, with more of a kid twist of course!
Choosing to transition your kids to a plant-based diet (specifically a diet without ANY animal products) can be challenging if they are older and don’t understand the reasoning. This is why it’s so important, as the parents, to know WHY you are doing it and to be open and honest with your kids.
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Once you know your personal why, share it with them so they know why you are personally making the choice. This will make it more real and will hopefully help them to see it for themselves.
Sharing information with them (appropriately) is also super helpful. Hopefully the more you share and get them involved, the more “buy in” they will feel.
If you need help to transitioning your kids or reasons why it’s a great choice for kids, check out this post.
The list you’ll find below is perfect for young kids who know what animal products are and are used to many of those in their diet every day. These are foods that they likely already enjoy but are bulked up a bit!
Here are the top 5 foods to help transition kids to a plant-based diet:
1. Your Kids Favorite Fruits and Veggies
When adopting a plant-based diet for kids it is so important that they have access to their favorite fruits and vegetables.
- If your preteen loves to snack on apples and peanut butter, have that on hand as often as possible.
- If your toddler enjoys grapes and grape tomatoes, keep those in the fridge.
By doing this, you are way less likely to deal with the “we have nothing to eat that I like!” argument every day.
And I’ve learned with my kids that allowing them to choose the healthy snack (even though we often know what they will pick) will make them more likely to not complain and enjoy the choice.
One way that we really utilize kids favorite foods is by creating what I call “snack plates.” This is a SUPER EASY way to get your kids to eat their favorite foods and not complain. Or at least complain less. 😉
I find that snack plates is a great way to sneak foods in front of your kids BEFORE they say they are “starving” and hangry… Give it a try and let me know what you think!
I love potatoes for kids because they are fun, versatile, and can go for any meal! The key with potatoes for kiddos going plant-based is to switch up the type of potato you use and the way you present them.
Hash browns or tater tots make an easy breakfast and can be mixed with other things like tofu scrambles or in breakfast burritos if you want! Or have them plain.
You can also use potatoes to make loaded fries, nacho fries, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, etc.
When your little one is growing and likely hungry ALL the time, potatoes are a great way to get in lots of nutrients but also keep their tummies full.
3. Plant-Based Proteins
Protein helps us stay full and this is especially true for kids. Figuring out what plant-based proteins they enjoy will help this journey for the entire family. This is true for both adults and children.
Check out this list of plant-based proteins to find ones your kids will enjoy!
Protein comes in SO many plant-based varieties and I can guarantee there are some your kid will enjoy. Everything from nuts, nut butters, seeds, mock meats, beans, legumes, and more.
When transitioning your kids to a plant-based diet you will want to try to include a plant protein in every meal until you really figure the lifestyle out. My reasoning behind this is because when you go vegan and then feel hungry all the time, you will be MISERABLE. And this is absolutely something you want to avoid with kids.
They will be left confused, tired, cranky, anxious, less focused – just like they would be on any diet.
A few ideas for meals to try are chili, tacos/enchiladas/etc, or veggie burgers.
4. Plant milks
We are so lucky to live in a time where there are non-animal options all over the place. Plant milks are probably one of the FIRST changes people make (even before they go plant-based or vegan).
Plant milks come in so many varieties these days: almond milk, cashew milk, pea protein milk, soy milk, a mix of a few different nuts, chocolate, vanilla, unflavored, etc.
There are options to satisfy everyone. You can even make your own like we are!
5. Cheese substitutes
I was hesitant on adding this because I don’t want anyone to think this should be a staple in your diet. HOWEVER, when transitioning ANYONE to a plant-based diet, using cheese substitutes can help so much.
(No, I am not against packaged vegan cheeses but just like regular cheese, it really should be consumed in moderation)
Using cheese substitutes can help when in a pinch. For us, we use Daiya cheese to do quesadillas or grilled cheese when our motivation to do a meal from scratch is limited.
The nice thing about vegan cheeses is that they truly are tasty, but they can also be used in a way that would make your kiddo not miss the animal version. (woohoo!)
A few ways to use it would be:
- veggie burger
- grilled cheese
- baked potato
- mac and cheese
Using vegan cheeses will help during the transition process especially for kiddos who eat all cheese all the time.
Finding foods that can become staples in your kids diet will help their journey to a healthy plant-based diet more exciting! Most importantly it will help keep things SIMPLE for everyone and THAT is the key to success.
If you are in the process of going plant-based with your family and kids, what foods have you found that have helped with the journey?
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