Should You Raise Your Kids Plant Based?
How you raise your kids is and should be a highly personal decision. We're not going to try to tell you to raise your kids' plant based, rather present evidence and let you make up your own mind.
One of the most common arguments presented by mainstream society is that raising kids plant based is 'forcing them'. This argument can be quickly debunked by reframing the concept that only an omnivorous diet is ‘normal’.
Whatever you impose on your children (religion, school, nutrition, sport etc.) could be called ‘forcing’. Ultimately as parents, you should raise your kids in whatever way you feel is best for their long-term welfare.
Plant Based Parents
Rich Roll is a vegan ultra-endurance athlete and a spokesperson for raising your kids plant based. He is on record having raised his kids’ plant-based whenever they were at home but ultimately left them to make up their minds how they wanted to live and let them make their own choices.
Young children in particular love milk. Breastfeeding is a natural part of many kids’ upbringing. So it's understandable that they would enjoy transitioning to non-human milk in their early years.
There has been much debate around plant milks vs dairy for children in the past. Particularly on the issue of calcium. These days most plant based milks are fortified with calcium. Furthermore, recent research suggests that dairy calcium may not be as effective at preventing bone fractures as previously thought.
Dairy milk has a much higher sugar content than plant milks. On the other hand, many commercially available plant milks have filler agents that parents may want to avoid giving their kids.
It is well established that hitting protein requirements on a plant based diet is quite easy.
By contrast, children who eat a heavily meat-based diet may have other problems. High protein diets can also lead to high urinary elimination of calcium.
Green leafy veg are great sources of iron but can be challenging to get kids to eat due to the bitterness. Blitzing them into a smoothie is good for kids and good for you too.
Many green cruciferous vegetables are also high in calcium – which can be a mixed blessing. Calcium can block iron uptake, so pairing that iron source with vitamin c will help ensure a good uptake. Combining those green veg with a high vitamin c fruit can be a tasty way to get abundant nutrients into your kids.
Raising kids is one of the most complex but most satisfying roles many of us will play. However you choose to raise them; their diet should be primarily nutrient-dense whole foods, with minimal refined carbohydrates, sugars and oils.
By teaching your children good eating habits, you'll give them the gift of better health and a healthy relationship with food that can last a lifetime.
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