Raising your child vegan: is that responsible?

More and more parents choose not to give their children meat. A smaller proportion even chooses a vegan diet for their offspring, in which even all animal products, such as eggs and dairy products, are removed from the menu. How healthy is that anyway?

by Yara Hooglugt

People who eat vegan, have (almost) only plant products left on their plates. Their diet goes beyond that of vegetarians, because vegans also eat eggs, milk, gelatin, honey โ€” in short, all animal products โ€” is forbidden.

You

want

to raise your kids vegan? Its possible, but its been paid attention. For children on a vegan diet, nutrient shortages are soon lurking. Animal products contain many valuable nutrients, such as vitamin B12, iron proteins and calcium. If this is not compensated, the risk of growth retardation is high. The Food Centre therefore recommends that you give vitamin B12 supplements every time and vary a lot with vitamin and iron-rich products such as leafy vegetables, legumes and nuts.

Disrecommend

Cรฉcile Scheele, writer of De Schijk van Fief, a feeding manual for parents, warns of another risk. โ€œPersonally, I would even completely discourage a vegan education, because a diet without animal products quickly causes a serious shortage of protein.โ€ Scheele wrote her book together with her father, who, as a nutritional scientist, did a lot of research on the health effects of different dietary patterns.

Essential

โ€œThe need for protein is not to be underestimated, and these are the nutrients that are often lacking in vegan education. In proteins there are amino acids that your body converts into body proteins โ€” and these are therefore very important for the development of, for example, the bones and brain. There is a distinction between non-essential and essential amino acids. The non-essential amino acids can be produced by the body itself, but the essential amino acids must be removed from your diet.โ€

Misunderstanding

โ€œIt is a misunderstanding that those non-essential amino acids can be extracted from any protein product. By far not all proteins have the same effect on the growth of a child. So do not think that a chicken egg, for example, in protein quality, equals a meat substitute that also contains proteins. In the latter case, it is often about wheat proteins that are converted by the body much slower, or even not at all, into bodys own proteins. In fact, if the body does not succeed, it may also be converted into fats, causing weight gain to lie in wait again. And since children in growth need a much higher concentration of protein and therefore have to eat relatively much, that is quite a risk.โ€

Smuggling

โ€œI would rather advise: you do not have to set aside your principles, but smuggle regularly! Give your children fish once a week and use a flexitaric menu. You can also choose to let your child eat meat and/or eggs and dairy outdoors, such as in the nursery. This allows you to pursue the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle as much as possible at home, but it is easier to let your child receive the right nutrients. And if you are going for a completely vegan education: do this consciously! Keep track of what your child needs in what proportions, read carefully and ensure a balanced menu.โ€