When your child says they are going… VEGAN!

Don’t panic.

But wait, they don’t even eat their greens! How will they become vegan!?

Breathe…Be happy! Your child is making an amazing decision for their health, the planet and – most importantly – the animals.

Here’s the rundown on nutrition and veganism from the Australian government:

 

“Appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthy and nutritionally adequate. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the lifecycle.
Those following a strict vegetarian or vegan diet can meet nutrient requirements as long as energy needs are met and an appropriate variety of plant foods are eaten throughout the day. ”


Australian Dietary Guidelines

 

Unfortunately, the nation’s children are not in good physical shape often despite the significant investment in physical activities by our schools. Obesity is a very real issue for our children, and it can go on to cause high cholesterol and diabetes. Your child’s choice to go vegan helps to reduce their chance of developing such illness, along with many other health issues as they continue to grow.

 

What can you do to help?

  1. Most importantly, educate yourself. There are many resources available to help you with this: consider Google your new best friend, and check out some vegan YouTube channels and blogs, or websites like this one. Positive and critical learning about veganism will help you come to your own opinions without being influenced by others, and you will be able to have meaningful, educated conversations with your child about it. Remember to keep an open mind.
  2. Talk with your child/children to learn why they have been drawn to veganism. Ask them in a non-judgmental way why they want to be vegan; what they read, saw, heard that made them decide ‘this is what I want to do!’. Having a better understanding, even if you disagree, of where they are coming from will help you understand why your child has chosen to make a shift in diet.
  3. A common mistake is to see veganism as limiting, but this is not the case. Embracing veganism and expanding your knowledge of food and cooking will allow you to offer a huge variety of food to your child while ensuring their diet is nutritionally complete and allowing them to enjoy their food.

Things to Keep in Mind

Nutrition is important. We have provided important nutritional information in the “Nutrition” section for your convenience, but feel free to read as widely as you like.

Remember that cooking is fun! The more you can engage with your child, the better. Try new recipes together, look for vegan options at your supermarket, or have dinner at a local vegan restaurant to see how other vegans cook.

If you do have concerns, visit a vegan or vegan-friendly dietitian and schedule regular blood tests. Vitamin B12 is one of the recommended vitamins vegans should supplement into their diets. So make sure you provide a vegan-friendly B12 supplement for your child (and you) at the recommended dose.

 

On the Road…

Once they are vegan, you might notice that your child will want to eat a lot more than usual! A vegan diet is built from less calorically-dense foods than a typical Western diet which relies on foods such as meats, eggs, and milk which typically pack in more calories. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient rich but low in calories. Keep in mind that your child will need to be eating much more if they are coming from a standard western diet.

The greatest thing you can do for your child is to get on board with their choices, and maybe even give it a go yourself. You will probably realise that a vegan diet is really not that different or as extreme as you previously thought.

Ultimately your child’s journey to veganism is a positive development in their life. Embrace an optimistic and encouraging perspective towards their new passion.

Our best advice? Support them, take on the challenge and step up to the plate! Just remember, veganism is healthy, and with a parent’s support and encouragement, your child will thrive and flourish.