As more and more people are gravitating towards a vegan diet nowadays and also research showing a great potential of grow in numbers of people becoming vegans it is vital to know if this diet can be good for babies or not.
In this article I will be addressing this question: is a vegan diet good for babies? and whether you should even be considering to put your baby on a vegan diet.
According to a study a vegan diet is appropriate for babies and it is very sustainable.
I will also give out tips how what are the other things you need to consider for this diet for a baby.
Let’s start shall we?
Are there any deficiencies
So is a vegan diet good for babies?
Well to answer this question I thought I should start with addressing what a vegan diet is and what it entails.
The general definition of a vegan diet is that it is a plant based diet which excludes all dairy products as well as all kinds of animal meat.
So this means that many nutrients can be missed in this diet for a regular vegan due to not getting all the proper vitamins and nutrition.
This is the reason that parents need to be cautious since the first year of a baby’s life according to Parents.com is the most important for growth and development.
If parents are not cautious they may put their baby at risk of not growing properly and many other negatives we will talk about later.
Calcium, Zinc, Iron, protein and vitamin D, B12 are the ones that most vegans are always lacking in their foods so you can imagine what could happen to a baby.
In most cases parents will tend to help their kids supplement in order to catch-up with their nutrition consumption.
What about breast milk?
We are all aware that a baby needs adequate milk in their developing stages so this makes it very important to consider it in the baby’s vegan diet.
There has been a lot of talk whether breast milk is vegan or not. Especially when it comes to parents choosing a vegan diet for their babies.
So is breast milk vegan?
Yes, and to explore this and answer it lets’s look at what The Vegan Society defines a vegan to be:
Vegan Definition : “A way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing and food.”
So if we consider the above definition there is no exploitation of animal since,for obtaining breast milk,it is what comes from a mother as a natural process of life.
Since a vegan diet has lower protein and nutrients it is recommended that a baby that is given a vegan diet must have a longer breastfeeding period than non-vegan babies.
The health benefits for vegan babies
There are many benefits to making a baby eat a vegan diet and most of them are similar to those that adults vegans experience.
To me I would say the health benefits tend to outweigh the risks of a vegan diet for babies. I will talk about the health benefits of giving your baby a vegan diet.
- Protection against future heart disease.
This aspect was one I wish I benefited from because I think if I had followed a diet from a very early stage (maybe 3 years old) it would have really made me a very healthy person.
I am saying this because being a non-vegan was what contributed to me getting clogged heart arteries,
- Develops healthy eating habits
Again this point is linked to the protection from heart disease that I developed as a young adult. You see had I been in a vegan diet I would have been more cautious in not eating junk foods which was going to endanger my life in the future.
Also, adopting this diet would have made my parents make sure they were cautious in giving me any foods.
This is the true for any baby and any parent, The earlier you give your baby a vegan eating diet the better you will make them understand healthy eating ways.
Even if a child ends up deciding to go non-vegan they would subconsciously be conditioned to eat healthy and their body will already be healthy.
Think about it… had I started a vegan diet at a young age do you think that by 20 years old I would have clogged heart arteries?
Absolutely not, right?
This is the reason I favor a vegan diet.
- Better odor
Due to the high fiber you will be giving your baby due to all the fruits and vegetables it is no doubt that as your baby grows he or she will have the best body odor.
This is one of the great benefits of a vegan diet even to those who have just recently turned vegan.
I wrote an article related to this topic before and you can check it out here.
- Diabetes management
Do you have a family history of diabetes as a parent?
If yes than you are likely going to give your child diabetes. Yep, this is true according to genetics.
So the best way to help with managing it in your baby or even preventing it from popping up a vegan diet is the best bet to help you.
This is because this of the naturally sugars that you eat unlike the made up sugar from non-vegan food generally.
In the vegan diet your sugar naturally comes from fruits whereas in a non-vegan it comes from actually made-up sugar.
- Weight management
According to WebMD a third of children in the US overweight and this rate is said to increase in the upcoming years.
With these alarming figures it is vital for parent to really consider the benefits of a vegan diet so their child does not contribute to the statistics.
Granted, some become obese or overweight despite following a vegan diet, and this can be due to genes, but if you follow the proper weight to help your child manage weight either but following a vegan diet for weight lose it becomes easier for them to manage weight.
To health risks for vegan babies
Having said all the benefits of following a vegan die there are a lot of risk which are associated with giving your baby a vegan diet.
Infant some risks can be very dangerous. I will talk about the risk associated with a baby following a vegan diet.
- Growth and development
I did slightly talk about this at the beginning of the article and now I will expand slightly on it.
You see a vegan diet tends to lack vitals nutrients which are needed for growth such as calcium for bones and iron for energy.
These are the most important for the early stages of a baby and they can be damaging in the long run as the child will grow up weak and lacking vitality all the time.
Oh and also not forget protein.
Protein is also one vital nutrients for babies as this is connected to a baby having energy. Baby muscles are developed through protein and if they do not give your baby than the consequences your baby will face in the future are huge.
The protein is most important also for brain development and immune system,
According to International Food Information Council Foundation it is said that the amount of protein a person needs is the highest when they are a baby (at 1.5 g/kg) and decreases as they get old from adulthood (at 0.85 g/kg).
According to a study done in Netherlands it showed that a plant based diet like vegan leave babies having retarded growth and made parents being called abusers of children due to “starving them”.
What to bear in mind
Although I have talked about the risks associated with a vegan diet for babies it is very possible to mitigate these risk easily.
Yes I said easily. I will explain why.
The key lies in just being knowledgeable about the nutrients that are needed for a baby;s development.
If you are knowledgeable you will know how to supplement where needed and the first place to start is knowing a vegan diet for beginners which explains what to consider if you embark on a vegan diet including all nutrients you will need.
I will talk about the most important nutrients you should greatly focus on and some tips for getting all the vitamins your baby may need.
- Give your baby vitamin-C rich foods
The foods in a vegan diet or plant diet such as fruits, nuts, grains have what is called non-heme iron and this tends to not be absorbed well in the body,
So this is opposite to heme-Iron found in animals that is easily absorbed in the body.
So this is the reason to make sure iron gets absorbed well in the body. This is done by eating food with vitamin C together with those vegan iron rich foods.
- Consult a dietician
The best thing you can do for your baby is to consult a dietician of you feel that you are not quite knowledgeable and than use the research online as just extra resource.
A dietitian will help you with every aspect since they deal with this department of nutrition.
I would suggest seek one that is more knowledgeable about a vegan diet or baby nutrition as this will be a more specialized type of assistance.
A vegan diet for baby has a lot of risks associated with it like that of retarding the growth of a child and this is what makes many parents cringe on the thought of putting their babies on a vegan diet.
However a vegan diet I believe a vegan diet can be great for a baby only if you are knowledgeable and also are seeking to do a lot of research and ask people like dietician who have the know-how.
Bear in mind that the first year of the baby is the most critical and this is where you really need to ensure you focus on breastfeeding the baby milk especially for vegan babies since they need this milk since they will not be consuming dairy.
The most important nutrition to focus on are calcium,protein,vitamin D,B12,Zinc and iron for giving a baby a vegan diet.
I hope this article was helpful in giving you information about vegan diet for a baby.
If you have any questions or have comments to add then you can add them below and I will be more then happy to engage with you.