Can children eat vegan? | Nutrition advice

Recently i have seen a bunch of YouTube videos and articles about children eating a vegan diet who have become malnourished and very sick. And calling it child abuse to feed a child a vegan diet.

So the question is… can children eat a vegan diet or not?

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Well just like everyone, whether you are an adult, teenager or child it is individual. For some people a completely plantbased diet is the best diet and works great, for others it doesn’t work… either due to allergies or illnesses which can make it hard to eat completely plantbased. Or if someone has certain nutrition requirements which can be hard to meet on a plantbased diet or if someone has digestive issues which makes it harder to absorb all the nutrients required on a plantbased diet.

Children can eat a plantbased diet and be healthy, however then it is also recommended that the parents have knowledge of nutrition and also contact a dietitian or nutritionist who knows a lot about plantbased nutrition to help.

So first off… a bunch of the articles written about parents feeding their children a vegan diet are sort of inaccurate. Or well the parents weren’t feeding the child a balanced vegan diet… they were feeding them a whole bunch of fruit and raw food.

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Barely adults can get enough vitamins and minerals, or energy through just fruit and raw vegetables… nonetheless a child who doesn’t even have any storage of D vitamin, A vitamin or B12 in their liver.

When a child eats a plantbased diet you really need to make sure they are getting all the nutrients they need as well as the energy they need. Children don’t require as much energy per day meaning that they have less room for things like chocolate, ice cream and crisps… but also that they need to eat nutrient dense food to get all the nutrients they need while also not having to eat a lot of calories. Not to mention, children can usually not eat huge portions… meaning that a bunch of fruit or raw veggies just means a bunch of volume without a lot of nutrition. And lastly… feeding children a lot of fiber isn’t recommended as 1) it is very filling, making it hard to eat enough of other foods to reach the nutrition requirements, 2) it can give stomach ache, gases and cramping as it takes a lot for the digestive system to process and digest the fiber and 3) too much fiber can hinder the absorption of other nutrients.

It is recommended that children eat a lower fiber diet and also to avoid giving them things like chia seeds, flax seeds, rice and rice products.

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And then there is also the fact that children don’t have any b12 storage which many adults may have if they have eaten meat or dairy while growing up. B12 is vital for the proper function of the nervous system and for proper growth, and there are serious consequences if there is a b12 deficiency. So you need to give your child b12 supplements for the rest of their life. Just like adult vegans, they need to take b12 supplements.

Also D vitamin supplements or drops is recommended as well as A vitamin.

And if your child is eating a bunch of fruit and vegetables and not a lot of tofu, beans, soy products… then there can be a lack of protein which is not recommended for a growing child.

Omega 3 is also very important, which may be hard to get if you don’t feed your child walnuts, flaxseed oil or rapeseed oil. Note, if you give your child walnuts, they should be chopped or ground to avoid choking. Other important nutrients are iodine which you can get from iodized salt, selenium which you can get from brazil nuts and even zink is important… but typically you get enough zink from vegetables.

Iron and calcium are two important minerals which you may need to be extra aware of if your child eats plantbased. Iron you can get from beans, nuts, seeds, cereals, fortified milks…. And calcium you can get from fortified plantbased milks, tofu, tahini and even green leafy vegetables if your child eats them (you could puree them and add some rapeseed oil or drizzle over some tahini). It is also recommended that both you and your child consume fortified plantbased milks… otherwise you are getting very little energy or nutrients if you consume the unfortified versions. They are also a source of b12 which can be super important for both you and your child.

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It can be a good idea to get allergy tests on your child, to make sure they aren’t allergic to soy or any nuts or seeds, which are typical allergens and also a plantbased diet usually includes a lot of them.

For a child to grow and develop properly, right nutrition is key. And that doesn’t mean your child has to eat meat or dairy… not unless they are showing signs that they aren’t growing properly o get a lot of stomach issues while eating a plantbased diet. Meat is very nutrient dense and is filled with protein and iron which all people need, however you can of course get protein and iron from plantbased sources. And you can get calcium from other sources than dairy, however the animal sources are more nutrient rich and absorb better. But with the right knowledge, and as long as your child seems to enjoy the food and develop properly then a plantbased diet is no problem.

It is of course recommended that you breastfeed your child as long as possible, as breastmilk has almost all the nutrients your child needs and also the right energy for the child to grow and develop. And if that doesn’t work, then giving your child formula…. Not just jumping to sweet potato puree at once.

I would recommend you do bloodchecks every year for your child just to make sure they don’t have any deficiencies.

A plantbased diet can work for your child, but just be extra aware of certain nutrients and how/what they eat. You can’t force your child to eat certain foods and if they don’t like them, they don’t like them. You could of course test to prepare them another way and see if they like them. It is important that your child does get the right nutrition over time…. Even if not everyday is perfect.

Feeding your child a vegan diet isn’t childabuse… people can feed their children chicken nuggets, burgers, cola and chocolate weekly and nobody cares. But as soon as your child eats plantbased everyone makes a fuss. A child can still still eat vegan burgers, vegan chickennuggets and vegan chocolate. However, children also need vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and a balanced diet.

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Feeding your child just fruit and vegetables is NOT recommended and can lead to serious nutrient deficiencies which can have long term consequences. So take contact with a dietitian, read up on nutrition and feed your child a BALANCED vegan diet.

I don’t have children myself but I can make a post with some vegan meal ideas which can be recommended for children and contain a bunch of nutrients!

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated | Tips for eating healthy

*Part of this post contains affiliate links for Mat.se*

Many think that eating healthy is hard and time consuming, and the same goes for eating plantbased.

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However, it really doesn’t have to be hard, time consuming or even expensive to eat healthy (or plantbased). Of course i do understand that eating plantbased can be a privelage that not everyone afford – when it comes to vegan fake meats/cheese/milk etc

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I do a big food shop from Mat.se every 2 weeks. Click HERE to shop at Mat.se (*affiliate link*)

My best tip is of course to meal prep. You invest 1-2 hours once or twice a week and then you have your healthy meals prepped. You can of course also choose to meal prep ingredients such as a big batch of quinoa or rice, soaking and boiling chickpeas and even making some of your own hummus, having vegetables roasted/boiled, and even marinating some tofu or having tofu prefried. This means that you can just mix together those prepared foods when you are going to eat.

Also, planning out your meals or your shopping list makes shopping go quicker and you know what you will make and eat. That will leave out the whole process of, “what should i eat today…. do i have all the ingredients…. ” and then you end up waiting so long and are so hungry that you just eat sandwiches instead. So by preparing and planning half the work is done. And if you have children then everyone in your household gets to decide a dinner each week, maybe!

Another idea, if you can’t meal prep is to just make a big batch of food for dinner and make sure to have enough for your lunch the next day. That means you won’t have to buy food for lunch and/or won’t skip lunch.

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Buy healthy food & frozen vegetables are a great idea. If you just buy “healthy” food, then that is what you will eat. If you have fruit, and nuts and wholegrain bread at home then that is what you will snack on. Sure, eating crisps and chocolate from time to time is nothing wrong but it is better to go buy them when you are craving them rather than have them at home just because you “might” crave them.

Frozen vegetables is a good, cheap way of getting more vegetables into your diet. Of course, it also means eating them as well. But many don’t eat up the fresh vegetables they buy and have to them away, so by buying frozen vegetables they are cheaper and last longer. Just make sure to find recipes where you can also incorporate them 🙂

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Prepare snacks: Such as make a big batch of chia seed pudding, or slice and freeze banans for times you want something sweeet and you can make banana ice cream, or even having chickpeas which you can roast if you want something savoury. This may sound time consuming, but if you meal prep you can do this at the same time i.e freeze banana slices and make chia seed pudding, or even overnight oats.

Remember that healthy eating doesn’t have to mean you have 10 different coloured foods on your plate – like i often do.

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Make it simple such as potatoes, tofu and broccoli. Or pasta, tempeh and avocado. Or bake a sweet potato and top with some black beans and hummnus or avocado. Or make a one pot lentil soup with red lentils, potatoes, crushed tomatos, garlic and add sweet corn and beans if you like. Etc etc

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Healthy eating can be super simple such as (example of meals):

Oats with banana and mylk (or make over night oats)

Lunch: Fried tofu with roast potatoes, avocado and broccoli  /  Or maybe a one pot pasta with sundried tomato sauce, soy pieces and some salad / Simple tofu cauliflower curry with rice

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Snack: Fruit/chia seed pudding/whole grain bread with hummus

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Dinner: Lentil soup with bread / Quinoa with roasted broccoli, carrots and chickpeas topped with hummus /   make a one pan meal (ex. potatoes/vegetables/chickpeas/tofu) which you bake in the oven at the same time & some type of sauce / Sweet potato and carrot soup with bread

Snack: Banana and oatpancakes / Vegan yoghurt with banana and peanut butter / chia seed pudding / Oatmeal with cinnamon and apple

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This is just an example. You can of course eat the same thing for snacks, or vary between 2-3 snacks each week and eat the same thing for both lunch and dinner to make it even more simple. But then it can be a good idea to vary each week what meals and foods you eat so you get some variation!

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These are just some tips i have when it comes to making eating healthy more simple! Also freezing in meals can be helpful!

 

How to eat varied on a budget

Eating varied is one of the key aspects to eating balanced, and also getting the right nutrients and vitamins.

I.e some foods are rich in certain vitamins or minerals, while others are rich in other vitamins and minerals. So by eating different foods within the same food group, you will be getting all the vitamins and minerals you need – hopefully!

The less variation you eat, the higher risk for nutrient deficiencies… though of course you could eat very varied while still eating few foods. So just because you don’t vary so much doesn’t mean you are at a risk for deficiencies.

Variation doesn’t have to be so hard either. Think about variation over time, i.e over a week or a month.

So one week you may eat just the same foods over and over, as that is what you have at home. If you are on a tight budget, it is unlikely that you will have a whole bunch of different vegetables to choose from. And the same goes for protein and carb sources… one week you may just eat potatoes or just pasta as your carb sources and have carrots as your vegetable source.

But the next week you may vary and buy sweet potato instead of white potato, or choose quinoa or brown rice instead of pasta. And you may choose broccolli or tomatoes instead of carrots.

And this applies to fruit, your fat source (one week maybe avocados or peanuts, another week you may eat walnuts or flax seeds)  and protein source ex one week red lentils, another week green lentils. One week chickpeas, another week black beans.

Of course, things such as using frozen mixed vegetables or using premixed beans is a good way to vary your intake during the week/day. So that you don’t just eat one type of vegetable or one type of bean the whole week.

This isn’t just for the sake of nutrients and assuring that you get all the nutrients and vitamins you need, but also it can make food and eating more exciting if you eat different foods. You also get to experiment more!

Also the same goes for snacks… maybe one week you just eat oatmeal with banana for breakfast and snacks, the next week you make chia seed pudding with berries, another week you make toast or scrambled tofu. Or even just switching from oatmeal with banana to oatmeal with apple adds variation!20181118_113639.jpg

Variation doesn’t mean you have to eat 101 different foods each week, and it doesn’t have to be expensive either. Like i mentioned, think of varying your food over time or from week to week. Buy frozen fruit and vegetables is a great way to have a constant variation of fruit and vegetables on a daily and weekly basis.

But also personally i like to change my protein and carb source throughout the week.

Typically i just vary through the same 20 foods or so, but that is still a varaition and leads to me getting a wider range of nutrients and vitamins, compared to if i just ate tofu, potatoes and avocado 2 times a day for weeks on end.

The less variation you eat (ex. if you just eat the same 5-6 foods) the more likely you are to need supplements. Note: Supplements aren’t bad, but they are just that… supplements, and the key should be to get all your nutrients through food.

Also, it is ok to have certain meals or foods which you love and eat over and over. That is like me with potatoes and avocados.. i eat them on a weekly basis. But i try to vary other things and not *just* eat potatoes and avocado.

It is not about changing everything you eat from week to week, but maybe swapping one or two foods, or adding one or two different foods from the week before!

Substituting food – but not with the same nutrients? | Vegan

When i promote a vegan/plant based diet, i always mention the importance of substitution. I.e you shouldn’t just take away food, you also need to replace it with something.

Not only for nutrients, but also it can make it more sustainable when you feel like you aren’t “Missing out”. I.e when you can still eat burgers with friends, or you can still eat your favourite dishes – but vegan.

Of course, the important thing – which many don’t think about – when substituting, is that it is not just substitution of the food, but also the nutrients in the food you are replacing.

I.e it is great that there is vegan cheese which you can use instead of dairy cheese. However, vegan cheese is usually just made out of oil and some sort of flavour, or it is made from cashews and nutritional yeast. This doesn’t give you the same nutrients, i.e protein and calcium which dairy cheese gives you. So if you want to use vegan cheese instead of dairy cheese, that is great… you just have to make sure to get your calcium from other sources (such as sesame seeds, tahini, tofu, enriched oatmilk, dark leafy greens etc).

And the same goes with example making tofu fish/using jackfruit instead of fish. Granted, white fish is mostly just protein, but if you are replacing tofu/jackfruit with fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel or herring, then you are also missing out on D vitamin and Omega 3 (and other healthy fatty acids). So it is important to get those nutrients from other sources – such as walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds. And D vitamin from a supplement.

^^Important to note, that when ex. making veggie schnitzels or ex. using eggplant instead of meat, you will be cutting out a protein source in your meal – as well as other vitamin sources. (Once or twice it is fine… but switching meat for just vegetables i.e not legumes/grains is not a good idea).

And the same goes for making ex. potatoe based “cheese” sauce for pasta. Sure it is great and creamy and delicious, but i would also recommend you add some beans or tofu along with the pasta (or use bean pasta) if it is an everyday meal you eat. Of course, if you just eat it from time to time, it is no problem that it is more carb rich.  ^^

 

Also, when you are replacing dairy milk with a plantbased milk, it is good to choose a fortified plant based milk.This is because otherwise you could be missing out on important nutrients such as b12, calcium, d vitamin. (Note, the organic plant based milk aren’t allowed to be fortified, so then you are missing out on nutrients).

When your replace meat with vegan protein sources, it is also important to make sure you are getting iron from other sources. Ex, if you switch meat for seitan, or you switch a portion of meat for a small portion of beans or legumes, you won’t be getting the same amount of iron. So increasing your intake of iron rich plant based foods is a good idea when you cut out meat.

Typically, vegan fake meat based on soya do contain a good amount of nutrients and typically are the same nutritionally compared to meat (maybe higher on the fat, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing).

I do not mean to diss or bash a plant based diet, i just think it is important to bring awareness to. Especially as a nutrition student i think about these things… i.e when i eat vegan cheese i do it because i want the texture/flavour, but i also know that nutritionally it is lacking in vitamins/Minerals compared to dairy cheese.

Also you typically need to eat more food/portions are bigger when you are consuming lots of legumes/grains/whole foods instead of animal products. I.e a small portion of beans/lentils is not the same as a portion of meat – nutritionally.

Hopefully this post will help you, and maybe bring awareness to something you didn’t think about before. Also important to note that you can get all the vitamins and minerals you need on a plantbased diet, but you may just need to think/plan a little more than if you were to eat meat and dairy as well.

 

Going vegan 2019? Start the year with veganuary

Soon it is time for a new year, and what better way than to start off the year with veganuary?

A time where you get advice and help from others also doing the challenge. A time for you to really try a plant based diet and/or vegan lifestyle. Many actually stay vegan after trying veganuary… so you don’t have to put an end date to veganuary… i.e you don’t have to eat a ham sandwich the first of february just “because you can”.

Of course the goal should be to make lifestyle changes to minimize your consumtion of animal products and live more vegan. To make sustainable changes which you will keep up the whole year, not just one month of a plantbased diet followed by eating animal products 5 times a day everyday for the rest of the year.

I understand that not everyone can or wants to go vegan, but it is also a chance to really give it a go if you are in a place in your life where you can actually do that. I.e if you are struggling wtih an eating disorder then maybe it is not the right time to start mixing with your food even more.

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I do encourage everyone who can to try veganuary – and to get your friends or family involved as well. Small changes add up, and also by having support from others it can help motivate you and support you to stay vegan. It can also make it a fun challenge to do with others.

Hopefully you realise that it is easier to be/eat vegan than you thought.

I do of course realise that being and eating vegan is a privelege whcih not everyone has the choice to make. Also not everyone has supportive friends or family like i do, but you can still try your best to minimize your consumption of animal products – not only for the sake of the animals, but also for the planet and your health, not to mention that eating more vegetables and whole foods and less animal products is usually cheaper. (Even if of course buying some vegan alternatives can be more expensive than the non vegan options).

The important thing to realise is that YOUR choices DO matter, and all SMALL choices and changes add up. So don’t think that just because you can’t be 100% vegan, that you shouldn’t try at all. Or just because you are “one person” that your choices don’t matter… if everyone thinks like that, then nothing would change. So everyones choices matter and make a difference.

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My goal is to try to write some helpful vegan posts during the month of January for those of you who are trying veganuary. Of course i realise that there are many resources out there and some premade challenges you can sign up, but i will try my best to help and be a support to you as well 🙂 To inspire you and even those of you who can’t do veganuary!!

If you have any questions or cetain topics you want to read about, comment below.

Also you can read my previous posts about veganism and related to vegansim, HERE. and some more vegan related posts HERE

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