Raising a Vegan Baby

As a new(ish) vegan, I get asked quite often whether the children are/will be vegan as well.
 
Seb has never been a big meat eater, and recently has started going off of cheese as well, but he is still partial to a fried egg, the occasional sausage, fish fingers, and has a glass of cow's milk at school. I don't buy any of these things because it would be massively contradictory to my vegan ideals to do so; there'd be little point in me refusing to consume animal products if I was going to buy them anyway to feed to somebody else.
 
Seb however divides his time between me, his Dad, and full time school education, so yes, whilst he is with me he eats exclusively vegan food because that's all I have in the house. He has not questioned this once since I became vegan and I think the change at home has been unnoticeable on account of the fact that he's still choosing his own food at school (he has free school meals), and is eating a meat and animal product inclusive diet at his Dad's.
 
Seb loves meat free sausages and chooses those over meat ones anyway, and his other favourite meals include pasta with tomato based sauces, and jacket potatoes with baked beans. I've also made him meat-less-balls (meatballs made with soya mince) and we've stocked the freezer up with veggie fingers.
 
Now that Quorn have introduced a vegan friendly product line I'm also going to make some chicken-free nuggets, and as I get more and more confident in preparing vegan food, I'm trying out more and more child-friendly recipes.
 
My long term hope of course is that Seb will continue to grow in his love of animals and nature, and will also be aware of the choices that I and others around him are making. If this leads to him choosing to become vegan at a later date then obviously we're more than set up to support him with that.
 
Quinn is a different story. Like many babies she was born "vegan" in that she didn't consume anything but human breastmilk. She was exclusively breastfed for the first six months of her life and as I'm vegan, I guess my milk is as close to being vegan as possible! Now we are beginning to experiment with baby-lead weaning, we are introducing different vegan friendly foods. Most of the food we offer her is fruit and veg, but she's also tried some toast with Marmite, VioLife dairy-free cheese, and houmous (spread on slices of cucumber). At the moment she isn't really eating a lot, more just experimenting with different textures and the appearance of food.
 
The long term plan, naturally, is to raise Quinn exclusively vegan. I don't buy non vegan food, so those products aren't around anyway, but naturally, some people have concerns with whether it's healthy or morally appropriate to raise a vegan baby.
 
One of the many reasons that I have become vegan is because I am satisfied that a balanced vegan diet is the absolute optimum diet for human beings. We get absolutely nothing from animal sources that we can't get from a plant based diet, unfortunately there is not a single health benefit to eating meat, eggs, or dairy that doesn't also apply to a plant based diet - but there are a number of negative effects on health, caused by eating animal products, that are obliterated once one switches to a purely plant based diet.
 
Most Western adults and children suffer from a severe build up of protein in their digestive system, which causes a form of toxicity (poisoning) of the liver. I often get asked about whether my diet might be protein deficient because I don't eat animal products, when in fact a majority of these people are probably ignorantly suffering from protein toxicity. In fact, it's impossible to eat enough calories, and fail to meet your body's protein requirements. As long as I eat enough calories, it goes without saying that I'll consume enough protein, regardless of where those calories come from. A wholefood vegan diet contains tonnes of protein per calorie anyway, from sources such as beans, grains and soya. I'll also be ensuring that Quinn has a healthy, balanced diet that provides the correct number of calories to sustain her health - so I don't need to worry about whether or not she's getting enough protein.
 
 
 
Dairy is relatively high in calcium, which is required for bone health as well as a number of other bodily functions. Animal protein, however, has been shown to effect the human body's ability to absorb and utilise calcium. This means that a diet high in dairy, has the potential to meet the body's calcium requirements, but due to the high animal protein content, means the body is unable to absorb the calcium and results in a calcium deficiency. Communities that consume a diet without dairy, have almost no incidents of osteoporosis for example, compared to those communities that do eat dairy - and the more dairy a population consumes, the more prone to osteoporosis they are. Leafy green vegetables are fantastic sources of calcium (among many other vegan sources) and yet, due to the absence of animal protein, the body is able to absorb and use all of the calcium that they offer. So no, I won't be giving my daughter dairy, because I believe that by doing so I'll actually promote better calcium absorption and prevent a calcium deficiency.
 
courtesy of rawforbeauty.com
 
 
Vegetables and legumes are also a fantastic source of iron, and all other vitamins and minerals needed to promote health and optimum wellbeing.
 
 
 
The only that vegans are recommended to take are B12 vitamins. Vitamin B12 is present in earth, and historically, humans would have got enough of this vitamin from the vegetables that they grew and consumed every day. However, in modern Western society we habitually buy pre-washed vegetables from the supermarket, and even when we do buy potatoes with  a bit of mud intact, we're careful to clean them thoroughly. This does avoid various bacterial infections, but leaves us unable to get Vitamin B12 from anywhere other than by eating other animals who do eat Earth (namely cows, but all grazing animals really). Because vegans eat washed vegetables, and now cows, they take a Vitamin B12 supplement. As well as a daily vegan multivitamin, I also have a portion of fortified plant milk per day (usually coconut milk, plus organic soya in tea) which is fortified with added vitamins including B12 and vitamin D, and I also have a round of toast daily with fortified vegan spread instead of butter, and Marmite, both of which are fortified with Vitamin B12 - I'm probably getting a lot more of this vitamin than most meat eaters, and once Quinn is no longer breastfeeding, she'll be having a daily children's vegan multivitamin, as well as the same foods, to keep her topped up.
 
This was a really roundabout way of saying that no, Seb isn't vegan, because he splits his time between my house and his Dad's, and also because he's spent the last five years establishing a diet which includes animal products (but he will always have only vegan choices when he's with me). And yes, Quinn is/will be vegan, and she'll be all the more healthy for it.
 
I'd love to connect with other vegan parents raising vegan children, or anyone who wants to ask anything about what we eat/how we live, please feel free to get in touch.
 

No comments:

Post a Comment