The topic whether vegan diets are good for the body and provide all the essential nutrients necessary is a topic which is still hotly debated to this day. While there are good arguments from both sides, it is common knowledge that not all essential nutrients are provided by strict vegan diets. This is why it always becomes a controversy when parents decide to raise their children as vegans. But some people have a different opinion regarding this matter. Some experts conclude that vegan diets can be good and nutritionally beneficial for infants and children as long as they are planned in a good and disciplined manner.
Research indicates that vegan diets could benefit the health of a child by bringing down chances of obesity and chronic diseases at later stages of life. On the other hand it also suggests that a complete vegan diet could prove to be incomplete and slightly harmful.
Now there’s the dilemma. What to Believe?
Sharon Palmer is an expert and has authored a book regarding vegan lifestyles. She states that parents who follow a strict vegan lifestyle can raise their children in the same lifestyle as long as the diet is well planned with the consultation of qualified nutritionists. She recommends a diet filled with enough protein, vitamins and calories which are absolutely necessary for a child’s growth and development. Food which is balanced in nutrients, fortified soy milk, grains, nuts, beans, seeds, soy foods, fruits and vegetables to name a few, is a fine example of what a balanced diet should ideally consist of.
What about Infants?
It is found that breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for infants. Vegan formulas are recommended when breastfeeding is not an available option. Extreme care should be given to an infant since vegan diets don’t hit the nutritional mark required for a baby’s development. As infants grow up they should gradually be shifted to drink fortified soy milk which provides nutrients similar to that of cow milk.
Vitamin B12 is a nutrient which is only available in meat. It is a major requirement for the body and must be supplemented regularly. Vitamin D is also a very essential nutrient for a child’s bone development. Supplements are recommended to be taken in case of insufficient intake of other sources like fortified cereal, orange juice and sunlight. Iron is another necessity which is primarily gained from meat. Children with iron deficiency could end up having depressed immune function. Fortified cereals and breads are an iron filled alternative but intake of supplements has to be considered. The concern of calcium is not too high as vegan alternatives such as tofu, soy products, almonds etc. provide adequate calcium.
It is advised that parents still consult a qualified and experienced nutritionist before embarking their children on a vegan lifestyle. The internet is not always a reliable source of information and a doctor will provide much clarity and guidance when consulted.