Originally published May 15 2009
Nurture Your Child with Nutrition the Vegan Way
by Tiffany Boutwell
(NaturalNews) With childhood obesity and eating disorder rates on the rise, many parents are growing increasingly concerned about their children`s diets. There is no lack of information available on proper nutrition for kids. However, there are just as many opposing views as to what is actually the best diet for children to follow. A lot of information you find is incorrect, even information from our beloved government. Their food pyramid could be referred to as the greatest pyramid scheme of all.
After doing much research, many people are turning to a vegan diet to aid in overall health and to help the environment. There are many reasons why cutting animal products out of your diet can be beneficial. For instance, the FDA, who is supposed to protect Americans, allows animals to be injected with all kinds of hormones. Combined with the naturally occurring hormones already in the animal, they are really quite a toxic combination. The FDA has also approved the sale of meat from cloned animals. Remember Amy, the first cloned cow? While not as famous as her sheep counter-part, she could be on your dinner plate and you would never know. Not only did they approve the sale of products (not just meat, but dairy as well) from cloned animals, but worse yet, it does not even have to be labeled as such! In addition to health reasons, there is also increasing concern that the methane released from cattle raised for consumption is a large contributor to global warming.
Whatever the reason you choose to follow a vegan diet, if you choose to do so, consider your child`s diet of utmost importance. It is possible to be a vegan and still be unhealthy, so here are some guidelines to ensure your child is getting proper nutrition.
*Fat- Children need between 20-35% of their caloric to be from fat. Avocados, nuts, and oils are high in fat as are coconuts and seed butters. Use caution when giving nuts or nut products to younger children, as there is some evidence that the earlier nuts are introduced, the more likely they are to develop an allergy to it later in life.
*Vitamin B-12- This is probably the largest concern that people against vegan diets have. It can be challenging to get enough B-12, so look for foods (cereals are most common) that are fortified with it or take a supplement.
*Calcium- To get plenty of calcium, eat a lot of green vegetables. Broccoli is a great source of calcium as is kale and collard & mustard greens. Don`t forget, Vitamin D is important in aiding your body`s absorption of calcium, so make sure your child(ren) get about 2 hours of sunlight every week.
*Processed foods- It is easy to fall into the slump of prepared boxed meals and frozen dinners. With all of the mainstream options that are available for vegans, there is no shortage of junk. Limit these foods as much as possible.
*Fortified Foods- A good way to make sure you and your kids are getting everything thing you need is to look for foods that are fortified with vitamins and nutrients. Soy milk is often fortified with Vitamin D, Calcium, and sometimes even B-12.
The main thing with children is to remember to meet their nutritional needs on a daily basis. To help with this, pick a day at the beginning of the week and plan your meals out for the rest of the week. Also, be diligent in reading food labels, carefully screening ingredients. A good rule of thumb to follow is if the product has more than four ingredients, don`t eat it. Another good rule is if it has ingredients that you can`t pronounce, don`t eat it.
When changing your diet to a vegetarian or vegan diet with children, it can be very hard at first for the kids to adapt. Look for foods that are similar to what they currently eat in a more natural state, such as fruit roll-ups. Instead of buying the processed sugar-filled ones, look for fruit leather, which is made with all natural ingredients, including real fruit and sweetened with fruit juices instead of sugar. Then, slowly introduce new foods to them as they become more willing to experience new foods. They can be overwhelmed with changes thrown on them all at once.
Be prepared for people to question your decision for your family to follow a vegan diet. Some people don't believe that it can be a healthy diet if you are willing to take steps to ensure proper nutrition.
About the authorTiffany Boutwell is a devoted wife and mother to 2 beautiful children. She is raising her children in a natural lifestyle on a four acre farm in Sparta,KY. Like many others, Tiffany is strong in her convictions to supporting a healthy and happy home, community, and eventually the rest of the world! You can view her blog about life on a farm at naturalapplemom.wordpress.com
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