Fostering a Gentler, Healthier and more Compassionate World for all Living Beings

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The Transition to a Vegan Diet

Although today more and more children are vegan from birth, many older children also become vegan. There are many ways to make the transition from a non-vegan to a vegan diet. Some families gradually eliminate dairy products and eggs while others make a more definite change. Regardless of which approach you choose, be sure to explain what is going on and why in a way that the child can understand. Offer foods that look familiar at first. Peanut butter sandwiches seem to be universally popular and many children like pasta or baked beans. Gradually introduce new foods. Watch your child's weight closely. Weight loss is likely at first, but if it continues or the child seems to be growing less rapidly, add more concentrated calories and reduce the amount of fibre in the diet. 

What Foods are Popular with Vegan Children?

Many vegan children like:

• Bagels with nut butter or hummous
• Bean burritos or tacos
• Fresh or dried fruit
• Mashed potatoes
• Oven-cooked chips
• Pancakes and waffles
• Pasta with tomato sauce
• Peanut butter and yeast extract sandwiches
• Pizza without cheese, topped with vegetables and pulses, tofu, or fake meat
• Raw vegetables with dips
• Shakes made with soya milk and fruit
• Spaghetti with tomato sauce
• Tofu/vegetarian dogs
• Veggie burgers

Vegan diets planned in accord with current dietary recommendations can meet the nutritional needs of infants and children, give children a better start in life and help to establish lifelong healthy eating patterns.

References:

1. Gallup: The Realeat Survey 1997 Changing attitudes to meat consumption Haldane Foods 1997

2. How many teens are vegetarian? Vegetarian Journal 2000; XX (1):10.

3. Sanders TAB, Manning J. The growth and development of vegan children. J Hum Nutr Diet. 1992;5:11-21.

4. Fulton JR, Hutton CL, Stitt KR. Preschool vegetarian children. J Am Diet Assoc. 1980;76:360-365.

5. McGill HC, McMahan CA, Herderick EE, Malcom GT, Tracy RE, Strong JP. Origin of atherosclerosis in childhood and adolescence. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;72(suppl):1307S-1315S.

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