Veganism is a hard, but a healthy lifestyle choice you made. Especially if you were brought up in a family of hardcore meat lovers, the decision may have shocked everyone around you and must have gotten you a lot of flak. By defying all the “no way”s and “you can’t do it”s, you stand at a much healthier and happier place today! As you are an advocate of the vegan way of life, you most definitely want your kids to enjoy the benefits the plant kingdom has in store, too! Kids tend to get extremely choosy about their food choices with age, so it is essential you begin training them to go vegan from very early on in his life. Here are 5 reasons why:
1. The Earlier The Better – Even though you probably made a shift to veganism in your mid 20’s, the ideal time for you to introduce your child to a green lifestyle is at the age of 3. A toddler is sure to be more open and accepting to a vegan diet, with very minimal resistance. Toddlerhood is also the time when the base for your child’s eating patterns and acquired taste is being established. Your kid will enjoy his soy sandwich as much as the neighbor’s kid enjoys his ham sandwich, if that’s what he has grown up eating. As kids grow, they become pickier about the food they eat.
2. Vegan Diet Is Low In Saturated Fats And Harmful Chemicals – One of the biggest concerns modern day parents have for their kids is their addiction to processed foods, high in saturated fats and preservatives! Parents may not realize the repercussions of an unhealthy diet, until they see it impact their child’s overall health. Obesity, risk of cardiac conditions, allergies and high blood pressure are not just concerns of grown adults. Kids can be their victims too! A vegan diet is not only low in saturated fat but also free of harmful chemicals and cholesterol which results in lower death rates caused due to heart diseases.
3. Vegan Foods Are A Rich Source Of Essential Nutrients – As all the non-vegetarians around the world guzzle down their sugary colas and chomp on their unhealthy beef burgers, you and your child can indulge in the goodness of vegan delights. Here are some of the best sources of essential nutrients for your child:
- Fruits and vegetables provide ample amounts of antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and carotenoids, which protect cells against oxidative damage, one of the most major causes of cancer and other health concerns;
- The phytochemicals present in various fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and nuts help protect against heart diseases and cancer;
- Your child can get his dose of proteins, the building blocks of life, from foods like tofu, veggie burgers, soy, lentils, chickpeas, nuts and seeds like black cumin, brown rice and whole grains;
- To help your child strengthen his bones and teeth, spinach, collard greens, kale, soy milk, fortified orange juice, sesame seeds, broccoli, almonds and carrots provide excellent sources of calcium;
- Foods like tofu, lentils, spinach, soy, chickpeas and hummus will give your child an iron boost;
- A deficiency of zinc can hinder growth in kids. The best sources of zinc include legumes, nuts and zinc fortified breakfast cereals;
- Vitamin B12 is essential for cognitive and motor development in kids. It also prevents anemia. It can be easily obtained from vitamin B12 fortified breakfast cereals, fortified soy milk, nutritional yeast or multivitamins.
- Reduced Risk Of Food Allergies And Illnesses – While the common belief stands that cow’s milk is essential for a child’s development, modern studies reveal that it is one of the biggest causes of food allergies and gastrointestinal problems in children. In fact, it is not meant for humans at all. A vegan diet also prevents your child from contracting meat-borne illnesses like Bird Flu, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or Mad Cow Disease.
- Veganism Will Make Kids More Environmentally Conscious – Did you know? It’s not just the animals that suffer the brunt of human cruelty; the environment at large faces it too! According to an article by PETA, producing one pound of animal flesh requires 13 pounds of grain! We live in a poverty struck world where the food that goes a waste to feed animals that are eventually slaughtered, should actually be used to feed the poor. A United Nations report suggests that one of the biggest causes of global warming is animal agriculture. Teaching your child the environmental benefits of a vegan diet will help him grow up to be an environmentally conscious individual. At the rate at which the earth is being harmed by human race, we could do with a lot many environmental activists!
Always remember that it’s the strong foundation of a wholesome vegan diet that will determine your child’s healthy future.
Vineetha Reddy is a health and diet specialist at Stylecraze , also a regular practitioner and adviser of everything related to health, fitness and yoga. I strongly believe that the organic food you find in your pantry provide the best benefits for good health. Follow me for my best ideas and solutions: