Bringing Up Vegan Children

Let's Start at the Beginning - The Vegan Infant

  • Vegan babies should be breast fed if at all possible. Benefits include protection against infection and a reduced risk of allergies.
  • Never give young babies ordinary soya milk - it does not contain the proper ratio of protein, fat and carbohydrate, or enough vitamins and minerals. If you are not able to breastfeed, then a soy based formula should be used for at least the first six months. At the moment, the only suitable soy infant formula, available in the UK, is 'Farley's Soya Formula' which is made by Heinz and is available from most chemists. Babies, in the USA, have more choice and Dr Reed Mangels recommends the following brands of US. soy formula for babies under 6 months:- Isomil, Prosobee, Nursoy and Soyalac.
  • Solid foods are usually introduced sometime between four and six months. Introduce them when it becomes apparent that your baby is no longer satisfied with his/her normal amount of formula or breast milk. Throughout weaning, continue to feed your baby the usual milk intake and introduce new solid foods, one food at a time, to see if there is a reaction. (Common reactions include skin rashes or sore bottoms.) When you are sure that particular foods will not cause a reaction, then you can make meals more interesting by combining different pureed fruits or vegetables, together. Iron-fortified baby rice cereal is often given as a first food, because it is unlikely to cause any allergic response and at around six months various, cooked and pureed fruits and steamed vegetables can also be introduced. First of all try pureed stewed apples or pears and mild vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, swedes, turnips, parsnips, courgettes, cauliflower and broccoli. A little later you can introduce pureed tomatoes, peas, spinach, peaches and plums and from the age of six months your baby will probably like some of the tiny egg-free pasta shapes (used in soups) which can be served with a vegetable puree for a sauce. From about eight months food does not need to be pureed so smoothly and you can now give your baby some mashed foods or leave some small lumps for your baby to chew. (Remember when preparing baby food do not add any salt or sugar.)
    You will find an example of a feeding schedule for babies of 6-12 months old in the nutrition section of Simply Vegan by Debra Wasserman and there is also a copy of this schedule on the Internet at the Feeding Vegan Kids website, listed below.
  • If you are unable to obtain a book of special vegan baby recipes, then it is worth looking in the ordinary baby books in your public library, as these often contain recipes which are suitable for the young vegan baby, because meat, fish and dairy products are not normally introduced into any baby's diet until after the age of six months. The Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner by Annabel Karmel, is one such non-vegan book which has many easy, fruit-and-vegetable based recipes and you will find that most of the recipes, before page 53, are suitable for the vegan baby. Incidentally, it is also worth looking for recipes in any vegetarian baby books that you can find. Tofu, soy cheese, soy yogurt, legumes (e.g. lentils, split peas) and nut butters are usually introduced at around 7-10 mths and by the age of one year, vegan babies can also be given nutritional yeast, blackstrap molasses and ordinary soymilk. However, if there is a history of nut allergy in your family, then it is better not to introduce nuts until the child is about three years old and of course children under three can choke on whole nuts, so use nut butters or grind nuts for young children.
  • Supplements: Nursing mothers should make sure that they are getting enough vitamin B12 in their diet, as breast milk is the only source of this vitamin for the breastfed vegan infant. In winter, breastfed vegan babies may need a vitamin D supplement if they are not getting enough sunshine and breast fed infants are often given an iron supplement from the age of 6 months, although many infant cereals are now fortified with this important vitamin.
  • It is now fairly easy to purchase ready-made vegan baby foods and these can sometimes be quite useful if you are travelling or if you are in a hurry. You will find a list of suitable brands of vegan baby foods and other baby products that are suitable for the vegan baby in The Animal-Free Shopper.

Moving On - The Growing Child

  • It is very important to make sure that growing vegan children have adequate calories. The vegan diet tends to be high in fibre and can be rather bulky for a child's small stomach. Vegan children need to be given more low fibre, energy-dense foods than vegan adults so include: nut butters; tahini; fruit spreads; fruit juice; chickpea hummus; pureed beans and avocados.

Nearly There - Adolescence

  • Adolescence is a time of rapid growth and change and parents need to make sure that vegan teenagers consume enough protein, calcium, iron and vitamin B12. A sixteen year old, weighing about 120 pounds, needs about 44 g of protein/day. (The RDA for protein is 0.5 g per pound for 11-14 year olds and 0.4 g per pound for 15-18 year olds.) Bone density is also determined in adolescence and young adulthood, so it is important that young people eat three or more helpings of calcium-rich foods/day.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post