Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Is veganism good for children?

It’s hard to imagine most kids embracing a strict vegan diet by choice, but according to an article by dietician Timi Gustafson, veganism is becoming a more popular lifestyle among adults - many of whom wish to pass on the no animal product diet to their children. Stricter than traditional vegetarianism, such a diet excludes all animals (including fish) as well as any animal byproducts, such as eggs and dairy.

Adequate nutrition intake is the biggest concern when deciding to allow one’s children to adopt such a strict diet. Most of the proteins that are essential to our health are found in products that vegans won’t eat.

In recent years, cases in which young children and babies were irrevocably harmed by having such diets forced on them by their parents have made big headlines across the world. Gustafson makes sure to point out, however, that because infants and toddlers are undergoing rapid growth and development, “no dietary restrictions should be applied under the age of two.”

Although cases in which children starve on a vegan diet are tragic, Gustafson, rightly notes that many children on non vegan diets fail to consume the recommended daily amount of vitamins and nutrients regardless of the abundance of food options available to them.

A steady stream of processed foods in our society is limiting our access to important vitamins and minerals. In short, we should not take for granted that our children are nutritionally sound - as it is still possible not to take in the right proportions of vegetables, proteins and dairy products on non restricted diets as well.

Although some diets (such as a vegan) may be untraditional, parents need to ensure that however they are feeding their kids, they are consuming adequate amounts vitamin B, iodine and the essential Omega-3 fatty acids.