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

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Infants and Children? 

The Vegan Diet for Infants and Children

Reed Mangels, PhD, RD
Sandra Hood, BSc (Hons), SRD

It takes time and thought to feed infants and children, and all parents should think carefully about what their children eat. The years from birth to adolescence are when eating habits are set, when growth rates are high, and to a large extent when the size of stores of essential nutrients such as calcium are determined. This article will examine the health benefits of vegan diets for children, address potential concerns, present information on key nutrients and provide guidelines for feeding vegan infants and children.

The number of vegans in the UK today is estimated at 0.5%(1) but we do not know how many of these are children. In the US, a poll commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group in the year 2000 found that about 0.5% of 6 to 17-year-olds were vegan and did not eat meat, fish, poultry, dairy products or eggs (2).
 

Health Benefits of Vegan Diets 

Several studies have examined the nutrient intakes of vegan children. One study of British school-age children found that they had higher intakes of fibre and that intakes of all vitamins and minerals studied (with the exception of calcium) were comparable with those of meat-eating children (3). Vegan pre-schoolers in the US were found to have generous intakes of protein, vitamins, and minerals and their diets exceeded recommended intakes for all nutrients studied with the exception of calcium (4).

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