A plant-based (or vegan) diet isn’t for everyone and many people think we’re CRAZY choosing to raise our kids this way.
Back when my husband and I first got married, we were both vegetarians. I had been one for over 10 years and had no interest in adding meat back into my life. One of the most common questions I would get was
“When you have kids, will you make them eat vegetarian too?”
For the longest time I was almost offended and felt the need to defend myself on my stance. But as we become parents I realized, it truly doesn’t matter what other people say or think.
So after having our first child, we raised him vegetarian (which is how we still ate) for about a year before we all decided to adopt a plant-based diet. It was in the middle of my pregnancy with our second that we realized it was time to eliminate animal bi-products. (eggs, milk, cheese, etc.)
We decided to not only raise our kids without meat, but we chose to go 100% animal product free.
And I would never change that decision for anything.
3 reasons why we are raising plant-based kids:
1. less picky
Raising my children plant-based from day one means they will be less picky eaters. Their favorite foods are broccoli, avocado, peppers, bananas, quinoa…. basically EVERYTHING from plants….. they LOVE.
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When you cater to a child’s wishes around food, you are setting them up to be a picky eater. If your kid likes french fries and mac & cheese so every time they “don’t like something” you make them what they want (french fries and mac & cheese) of COURSE they are going to continue to complain about the new foods.
I know many people who said growing up that their parents would make them an entirely separate meal because they were picky. And most of the time these meals would be chicken nuggets and ketchup. Now, even as adults, they are stuck in this way of eating and “hate” most vegetables. This is not how I wanted my kids to be raised. So we decided to do things a little differently….and I’m so glad we did.
The definitely of “healthy” is too much of a gray area HOWEVER, knowing that doctors are constantly asking “do they eat their vegetables” or encourage even us adults to eat more servings of vegetables, I feel it’s safe to say that eating a diet full of plant foods IS healthy.
Raising plant-based kids will allow them to consume nutrient dense foods as the majority of their diet.
There are many things that eating plant-based will bring and it is our hope that by doing this, living “healthy” will be easy for our two boys.
It’s important to also talk with your child’s pediatrician and be open about their diet. If the pediatrician does not agree with your choices, you might consider finding a new one OR continue to work with them. They may just not know.
For our kids, we have their pediatrician check their iron when they have well child visits to ensure they are doing fine – and guess what? They’s always been within the normal range.
We do also give our kids multivitamins (as most children should take) because even with a highly nutrient dense diet, foods aren’t as rich in vitamins and minerals as they used to be. And we would rather be safe than sorry.
3. Understanding Nutrition
They are learning from a young age that plant foods are the KEY to a healthy lifestyle and a healthy body.
Honestly, I just want them to understand that plants are delicious and should be a staple in their diet…. no matter what diet choice they make for their future.
It’s not about what they CAN’T eat but rather about what they can and SHOULD be eating.
In the future, when they can make the choice, they are free to eat whatever they please. However, it is my hope that they will always understand and recognize these importance of fruits, vegetables, and grains in their diet.
It’s not super easy raising vegan kids. Especially in the Midwest. Produce can be iffy in the cold months + the need for warm comfort foods when it’s -10 out vs. a healthy green salad. BUT we are learning that it’s all about balance.
What holds you back most about feeding your kids plant-based?