These days, most people don’t have an issue with others choosing to be vegan. But things can sometimes become more heated when people decide to raise their children vegan. Those around them may have some objections – fears about the children’s health, for example. Let’s take a look at some of these objections and see if they stand up to scrutiny.
“You shouldn’t force your kids to be vegan!”
Some people seem to think that raising kids vegan and forcing them to be vegan are the same thing. I disagree. By that logic, my parents forced me to eat meat. Of course, they had no intention of forcing me to do anything against my will. They were just feeding me what they ate. All parents impose their diets on their kids to some degree, because what they feed their kids usually depends on what they have in the fridge.
Additionally, parents are responsible for making decisions that their children may be too young to make alone. Most parents make decisions that they feel to be in their children’s best interests, like limiting screen time or avoiding sugary foods. Avoiding animal products is just another one of these decisions. As children get older, they are usually given more agency. But tellingly, very few children who are raised vegan choose to start eating meat.
In fact, many children are upset when they discover that they have been eating animals. I doubt that most vegan kids would prefer to be in a meat-eating household. Kids often resonate strongly with veganism and readily grasp the concepts.
“Veganism isn’t healthy for kids!”
The NHS and American Dietetic Association have both stated that vegan diets are safe and healthy for kids. This is borne out by the sheer number of healthy vegan kids in the world. JoJo from Family Freedom is a great example.
Of course, it’s important to do your research when it comes to nutrition, but surely this applies to all parents? The Vegan Society has some good information about raising vegan kids.
On a standard Western diet, children as young as three may have fatty streaks in the arteries, a precursor to heart disease. Increasing numbers of children are obese or have type 2 diabetes, formerly found only in adults. I think it’s safe to say that vegan diets are the least of our worries.
“But haven’t kids died from being fed a vegan diet?”
Every so often, a story crops up in the news about vegan baby or toddler who has died, allegedly because of their diet. These stories bear further examination, because they have invariably been distorted and taken out of context. In most cases, the child was simply being deprived of food. Malnutrition is deadly whether you are vegan or not. Bite Size Vegan has a good video about these cases.
Essentially, the media loves these stories because they are sensational. They get a lot of attention because they feed into what people want to believe is true – that a vegan diet is dangerous and should be avoided. Many meat-eating children have died of malnutrition, but funnily enough, nobody tries to use these cases to claim that meat-eating is dangerous.
“Kids will miss out if they’re raised vegan!”
With the multitudes of vegan products now available – everything from chicken nuggets to milkshakes to ice cream – there’s really no reason why kids should miss out. It might take more effort when it comes to parties and such – kids may have to bring their own food if the hosts won’t provide vegan options – but it is doable. And if your child does feel like they’ve missed out, you can always treat them later on to make up for it.
I hope this post has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about raising kids vegan. I’d love to hear your experiences. Are you raising your kids vegan? Maybe you don’t have kids yet, but you’ve already decided what diet to raise them on? Let me know in the comments.