Veganism. It has got bigger and bigger as each year passes. January is approaching and more and more people will be trying Veganuary; aiming to go more plant-based. People have many reasons for choosing this dietary preference; health, the environment and sustainability or perhaps against animal cruelty. Whatever the reason it is becoming more popular but the question I am asking today is would you let your child be vegan?
The post came about after I shared an article about a nursery that was going completely vegan but no real consultation with the parents. Many people were outraged and would consider leaving and other parents commented they were not that bothered, as liked the health and environmental benefits. Personally, it wouldn’t be something I was be pleased with, as although I have no issue with plant-based meals, I wouldn’t particularly want my child dairy-free unless there was a medical reason. My daughter attends a nursery three days a week and has 2 meals a day there but there are children who go full-time and eat 3 meals a day there, so an entirely vegan menu would be a large part of their diet.
This post isn’t really about that article though. It stemmed from a comment to me, that it was “very sad” I wouldn’t consider a plant-based diet for my family more for the sustainability side of things. This commenter got personal and quiet rude but pushing that aside, it made me think, would I let my children be vegan and what would others do? Was I selfish and sad?
I will be completely honest and say I do not know a large amount when it comes to sustainability and eating meat and dairy. There are some fantastic bloggers who do and some have commented below. I won’t pretend I do and share my mis-informed thoughts there. My decision comes from a nutritional side and more from a parental decision and what I think is right for MY children.
I would never put my children on a vegan diet, as although there is information and experience to say it can be nutritionally complete for a child, I disagree that children would eat enough calories and a balanced enough diet to get everything they needed. This isn’t because it’s not possible but because even with meticulous planning, would it be achieved?
Children are fussy! My eldest now is picky and was very picky at nursery. Even when eating meat and dairy, I worried about the protein and iron content of her diet. To switch her to a plant-based diet now would take away eggs, milk, meat and yoghurt; where she gets her Vitamin B12, iron, calcium and trace elements from. It would be taking a huge part of her diet away. If I suggested the alternatives, would she take them? Maybe but I wouldn’t be confident. Even my middle child, who eats well, I wouldn’t feel comfortable, as although she isn’t a huge milk and eggs fan, going completely plant-based would cut a lot out for her too.
I think you would need some extremely careful planning, Vitamin B12 and iodine supplements and a child who would eat everything you put in front of them, to feel confident they would be getting everything they needed. Parents are busy, life is busy and I wouldn’t be confident I could achieve it with my children at all. They are growing, always asking for food and although they eat fruit and more carbohydrate-based snacks, they love their Greek yoghurt.
Plus I don’t think it is my choice. I’d be happy to let them make their own decisions when they are old enough and never stand in their way. Bottom line though, veganism isn’t for me. Although we do try to have more plant-based meals, I could never do it full-time.
Let Your Child be Vegan?
I asked a group of bloggers for their opinions. Would they let their child be vegan? Did they have any strong opinions either way?
“I’m not vegan and I wouldn’t put my daughter on this kind of diet at such a young age. Personally, as someone with a fussy eater who is reluctant to try new things I would worry about what she would be eating every day if she wasn’t allowed to have any of the few things she will actually eat.” Lyndsey from Me, Him, The Dog and a Baby.
“I wouldn’t consider putting my child on a vegan diet, purely because I think it’s a decision that they should make for themselves wherever possible. We try to have a few vegetarian nights a week and the odd one of those will be vegan, I think that gives a nice balance.” Hayley from Devon Mama.
“I’d let my children decide for themselves when they are old enough. If they choose to be a vegetarian or vegan I’ll fully support them but it’s not something I or the school should enforce at all.” Clare from The Mummy’s Always Write.
“As someone who is a meat eater, and so are my children, I would trust the school to have my children’s best interests at heart, and give them a meal that would provide everything they need nutritionally. If it’s vegan, then that is totally fine with me. I would still feed my children meat at home, as and when we have it, and if they continue to want it, and wouldn’t worry about them not having it for that one meal during school/nursery.” Michaela from Adventures from a Yorkshire Mum.
“I’m not vegan but I am vegetarian. I cook my boys meat. When they are old enough to decide then if they want to eat a different diet then they can but for now I will continue to cook them meat. They are very fussy so it would be even harder to feed them if they didn’t have a meat option occasionally.” Jennie from Rice Cakes and Raisins.
“Earlier this year we stopped buying meat for at home, however we’re not strictly vege and our girls are allowed what they like (within reason of course!) away from home. We did this as a nod towards sustainable living and I’m comfortable with our current lifestyle. In terms of this recent situation… I think it’s easy to make a snap judgement if you’re not informed on the subject. I had to go dairy free twice for my cmpa daughter, so I have a bit of an understanding and I believe for the most part you can eat a nutritionally balanced diet without meat. Besides which, those children are not at the nursery 24 hours a day. That said, I think they could go vegetarian and continue to provide cow’s milk and eggs, which would probably go a long way towards alleviating parents’ concerns. It’s also worth mentioning that veganism brings its own issues – depriving poorer countries of grains for their people, decimating the homes of the creatures in the fields – and quite likely killing some of those creatures too! There’s no perfect solution, we all just have to find a way to live with ourselves.” Kate from The Less Refined Mind.
” My daughter has been vegan since birth. I have an older son who is not vegan. Any argument surrounding ‘forcing’ children to eat a particular way applies both ways. There are lots of articles and research to show that a plant-based diet is more than sufficient to ensure the right nutrients are provided for optimum health. Like any ‘diet’, balance is key. I’d say a nursery focusing on more fruit and veg in a child’s diet should be applauded, especially as the nursery my daughter attends feeds them processed foods such as ham and sausages.” Emma from Canny Food.
“Both myself and my husband are vegan and both of our kids eat meat. Both kids (6 and 8) know why we are vegan and they don’t want to do it so it’s their choice, although my son has said it’s something he’ll probably do when he’s older and he’s pleased that we’re doing it. My mum has been vegetarian for 50 years and I chose to be vegetarian for 8 years as a child (and then chose to start eating meat again for ages) without any judgement either way. I think a vegan diet is perfectly suitable for kids but mine are in no rush to give up dairy milk apparently!” Kate from Crafts on Sea.
“I’m not vegan nor veggie and don’t have any inclinations that way (cheese and seafood is life) but tbh my kids would just refuse to eat anything apart from pasta and probably die of malnutrition. So no, I wouldn’t.” Fran from Whinge Whinge Wine.
“Having watched a lot of programmes over the last year we have been slowly cutting our meat intake down but I am still extremely concerned about our planet and the fact this isn’t enough. We are now talking about going vegetarian (a big deal for my husband who loves meat!) I have thought about a vegan diet but for us right now, that is a bit much all at once but if it is necessary I will do whatever it takes to help our planet to repair itself. It is very clear that our growing population is causing a huge demand for meat based products and that these are probably the biggest issues our climate faces. If my son’s school decided to go vegan I would be happy with that and I would get on board with it. He only has one meal a day there and it wouldn’t impose on me whatsoever. I would be happy that his school were trying to do their bit as I believe we are all responsible in making what ever change we can whether it is big or small.” Emma from Emma Reed Writes.
“We eat vegan food at least once a week. In fact my daughter (9) recently turned pescatarian, stating her love of farmyard animals the reason (not sure what she has against fish). If my kids wanted to live a plant based life then I would support them. I do think it should be their decision though. Ian from Dad’s Delicious Dinners.
“t’s not really something I’ve thought about. I’m just grateful that they aren’t fussy eaters so they eat what we eat which isn’t vegan. If we’d had a vegan diet before kids then it would have certainly been a consideration. Right now, I’m just about managing to cook what I know without a ton of recipe research.” Victoria from The Growing Mum.
“I have been vegetarian for 20 years and this year went vegan but wouldn’t dream of forcing my ideals on my children. It is a major lifestyle choice and it has to be their decision. I am open with them about where meat comes from: as parents, we should be informing not enforcing. My kids would happily give up all meat and veggies and just eat cereal though!” Laura from Loopy Lou Laura.
“No I wouldn’t. I think this is something my child would have to choose for themselves as they grow older. I’m not vegan but I’m definitely aware of what we eat and have drastically reduced our meat consumption. Because my ethics have made it that way. Same like religion i suppose, I expose my kids to all types and they can make a choice.” Lucy from Oreos and Gin.
So some varied and well informed thoughts from the blogging world when I comes to the question would you let your child be a vegan? I found I agreed with many people and learnt quite a bit from them.
So what about you?
Would you let your child be a vegan? I would love to know!
It’s a bit easier to consider with an older child I think and when you only have one child like me. If my son wanted to do it I would support him (he’s 12), but I know we’d find it hard. I’d have to find a whole new set of recipes to cook. It would also be a problem at family events. I know a family with youngish children who recently went vegan and they found it very difficult as school dinners just aren’t geared up for it, so it was packed lunches all the way.
I think it would be hard to put a young child on a vegan diet if the parents weren’t also vegan and so speaking as a meat eater, the quick answer to your question is no. But that is for a young child. My kids are now 14 and 20 and if either of them wanted to go vegan I’d respect their choice.
I believe in a varied diet. If you look at the design of our bodies even our teeth indicate we are supposed to be omnivorous so a diet that is vegan is less likely to provide everything we need to function at its optimum. My kids eat a range of foods. I wouldn’t be bothered by the nursery doing this as they can always have dairy before and after they are there.
Interesting post. I’m not vegan but the more I hear the more I wonder if I should be.
I’d never make the children but would support them if they chose to x
Until such time as he is old enough to make an informed decision, then his diet will continue to contain meat. I don’t agree with cutting food groups out at such a young age personally. He has a balanced and varied diet and enjoys meat. Really interesting topic to explore though.
Personally I wouldn’t encourage my child to be vegan because I’d be worried they wouldn’t be getting the right amount of nutrients however we are trying to go meat free more regularly.
if my daughter wanted to be vegan i would first do my research as to ensure that she eats what her body needs and let her be a vegan
Not for young kids, no. We eat a varied and balanced diet, with meat in moderation. If they wanted to go vegan when they are older I would support them though.