With plant-based diets and other alternative diets increasing in popularity, it is understandable that parents would have questions and concerns about what dietary restrictions may be right for their child.
There are many reasons why people may choose an alternative diet for their family — including morals, ethics, religion, concern for the environment, or health. No matter why you are considering a plant-based diet for your child, it is important to know the potential benefits and concerns. We’ve covered all the information you need to know in the article below.
What is a plant-based diet?
While a plant-based diet is similar to a vegan diet, there are some differences between the two.
A plant-based diet is one that focuses on eating whole plant foods like nuts and seeds, legumes, grains, oils, fruits, and vegetables, while a vegan diet eliminates animal products altogether. An individual who is committed to eating a plant-based diet may still consume some animal-based products such as dairy and poultry in moderation.
What are the benefits of a plant-based diet?
Vegan and plant-based diets have been associated with a reduced risk of serious health concerns like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Plant-based diets are also very beneficial for controlling blood pressure and lowering high cholesterol.
Kids who are raised on a whole food plant-based diet generally have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight and enjoy increased health.
Are plant-based diets safe for kids?
Some parents understandably may have concerns about restricting certain food groups from their child’s diet. Will they get all of the nutrition they need from a plant-based diet, or will they be lacking in certain vitamins and minerals?
The good news is that with a proper commitment to ensuring that your child eats a healthy and varied diet, they can still get all of the proper nutrients they need from a plant-based diet without the need for supplementation. Parents should make sure their child is getting enough protein, calcium, vitamin D, iron, and B12 from plant-based sources. Adding plenty of healthy fats and oils can help ensure that your child is getting enough nutrition and enough energy.
Consider implementing foods such as iron-fortified cereal or orange juice with added calcium into your child’s diet to ensure that they are getting what they need. Supplementation is always an option if you feel that your child needs a little extra boost of certain vitamins or minerals.
In short, vegan and plant-based diets can be safe and beneficial for kids as long as parents remain committed to ensuring that their children eat a balanced diet and are getting enough of the key nutrients that kids need for their growth and development.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s diet, give us a call today to schedule an appointment with one of our friendly board-certified pediatricians.