Since toddlers often have picky eating habits, you’ll want to explore a wide range of vegan foods to keep your little one well-nourished. Since vegan diets are high in bulk, children can feel full before they’ve consumed enough calories. Be sure not to limit higher fat foods like nuts and seed butters and soy foods. It’s also fine to include some added fats in the diet of your little one.
Toddlers should be getting between 30 and 40% of their calories from fat and children and teens should have diets that provide between 25 and 35% of calories from fat. Including some refined grains in diets can also help young children who are not eating enough calories.
There are no one-size-fits all diet for vegan children and dietary needs differ depending on the stage of growth and development.
Use the following charts as a guide:
|Food||Servings per day||Serving sizes|
|Grains||6+||1/2 to 1 slice bread; 1/4 to 1/2 cup cooked cereal, grain, or pasta; 1/2-1 cup ready-to-eat cereal|
|Legumes, nuts, and other protein-rich foods||2+ (vegan children should include at least 1 serving per day of nuts or seeds or 1 full-fat soy product)||1/4-1/2 cup cooked beans, tofu, tempeh, or textured vegetable protein; 1 oz meat analog; 1-2 tbsp nuts, seeds, or nut or seed butter.|
|Vegetables||2+||1/4-1/2 cup cooked; 1/2-1 cup raw|
|Fruits||3+||1/4-1/2 cup canned; 1/2 cup juice; 1/2 medium piece of fruit|
|Fats||3-4||1 tsp margarine or oil|
|Fortified soymilk, or breast milk||3||1 cup|
|4 to 8 years old||Preteens and Teens|
|Legumes, Nuts and Soyfoods||5||6|
|Choose calcium-rich foods from the food groups above, including calcium-set tofu, fortified soymilk, figs, bok choy, broccoli, kale, collards, almond butter|
Article by Ginny Kisch Messina, MPH, RD. For further information on vegan diets for kids please contact Ginny at www.theveganrd.com
One of the challenges we face when transitioning to living as a vegan is navigating the relationships with those we hold close. Unfortunately just because our family loves us, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are going to make the same connections that we have made between the food we eat and the animals that we care about. Sadly, they may never become vegans themselves.
It is important to keep supporting your teenager throughout their high school years, now that they are becoming more independent they can start advocating for veganism themselves.
There are a few important things you can do to help your vegan child begin their kindergarten or primary school years stress free.
Speak to children about veganism and animal rights with the view that their perspective will be to become empowered to create positive change.
Do you or your child want to be vegan, but are unsure how to make it work for school? Need some tips and tricks to get you started? We have the solution, and it’s exciting, healthy and quick (no lies!).