Raising Vegan Kids

by Vijaya Venkat

I am a nutrition consultant by profession and have raised three generations of vegan kids. My children have always been healthy and hardly ever missed school because of illness. Not only have my children had a healthy upbringing, but so have my grandchildren.

A vegan does not eat any food that contains animal products, which means no beef, chicken, fish, pork, veal, milk, cheese, butter, eggs, sour cream or cottage cheese. Instead, a vegan eats fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains and pulses. Children raised on a vegan diet are sick less often and do not have as many food allergies.

The first foods any baby eats are naturally vegan solids, such as mashed fruits, soft veggies and iron-fortified rice cereals. Children should avoid cow’s milk and eggs. The best way to assure that your children achieve their ideal rate of growth is to make sure that they have adequate calories. Children have small stomachs and can become full before they have eaten enough food to sustain growth, so it is important that vegan children eat rich foods to ensure that they get enough calories. Luckily, the fats in avocados, nuts, nut butters, seeds and seed butters provide an excellent concentrated source of calories. Dried fruits are also a great calorie source and are an attractive food for many children.

Ear infections are rare in vegan children, and many children have found relief from chronic ear infections, constipation and allergies simply through the removal of dairy products from their diet.

Unfortunately, many Indians are lactose-intolerant. Lactose intolerance refers to the inability of our body to digest significant amounts of lactose, the predominant sugar found in milk. Common symptoms of lactose intolerance include nausea, cramps, bloating, gas and diarrhoea, which begin about 30 minutes to two hours after eating or drinking foods containing lactose.

My children have never had a problem with protein, calcium or iron. Most kids and adults eat too much protein, and because they get it from animal products, they also get a whopping dose of artery-clogging fat with it. Too much protein actually causes the body to lose calcium, so drinking cow’s milk is one of the least effective ways to strengthen bones. Every day, my strong, healthy kids prove me right!

Raising my children vegan was the best decision I ever made for them.