Time and time again I get asked, “You’re not raising your kid vegan are you?” Like it’s some sort of child abuse I’m inflicting on my kids. I’m happy to respond proudly with, “Yes I absolutely am.” I’m a firm believer in teaching your child HOW to think and not WHAT to think. I want to help guide them into finding their own truths. But what do you do when your child is too young to make informed decisions?
As a parent, we all want what is best for our kids. We have to make decisions for them until they’re old enough to decide for themselves and for me, I choose veganism. Now, that’s not to say at a birthday party they can’t eat cake or if we are at an event and they want to try some non-vegan food that I will forbid it. At birthday parties the food has already been purchased, so if they want to try it, they’re welcome to try it. However, in my home they eat vegan.
My reasoning for this decision is:
1. Vegan Diets Promote Healthier Eating Habits
New research is proving that how we eat as a child can effect whether or not we get diseases as an adult. High blood pressure, obesity and cholesterol levels are thought to be dictated by diet and exercise habits from childhood. Vegans don’t intake any extra cholesterol, our diets are lower in saturated fats, fat and calories which are the leading cause of obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol issues in adults. A vegan diet can also lead to more intake or fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains. Establishing early healthy eating habits is the key to being a healthy adult. (source)
2. Vegan Kids Tend to be Healthier
“A study of 4,746 Minnesota adolescents published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that vegetarian kids were more likely than nonvegetarians to meet government standards for several of the most important dietary recommendations.” (source)
“Dr. Charles Attwood, author of Dr. Attwood’s Low-Fat Prescription for Kids: One Diet for the Whole Family, writes that vegetarian children often grow taller than their meat-eating friends, noting, “Children on low-fat diets of mostly vegetables, fruits, grain, and legumes, when consuming adequate calories, not only grow normally, but have actually been shown to attain greater height than meat-eating children.” (source)
3. Animal Products Are Linked to Higher Cancer Rates
The FDA recently admitted that chicken sold in the US contains arsenic, a cancer-causing chemical that is added to the chicken feed. (source)
“Regularly eating red meat increases significantly risk of death from heart disease and cancer, according to a study of more than 120,000 people carried out over 28 years. The findings show that each extra daily serving of processed red meat – equivalent to one hot dog or two rashers of bacon – raised mortality rate by a fifth. Conversely, replacing red meat with fish, poultry, or plant-based protein foods contributed to a longer life. Nuts were said to reduce mortality rate by 20%”, (making a case for swapping roast beef for nut roast. Data from 121,342 men and women taking part in two large US health and lifestyle investigations were analyzed to produce the findings, published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine. (source)
“People who eat a lot of processed meat such as ham, bacon, sausages and burgers run a greater risk of premature death and developing conditions such as cancer and heart disease, research shows. The study, which included data from 448,568 people in 10 European countries, including the UK, found that the biggest consumers of processed meat were 44% more likely to die prematurely from any cause than those who ate little of it. High levels of consumption increased the risk of death from heart disease by 72% and cancer by 11%.” (source)
“A study finds that 84% of the world’s fish tested was not safe to eat more than once per month because of mercury poisoning. And 13% of the fish isn’t safe to eat, period.” Though honestly, I’m not sure how happy I am eating something that’s so poisonous you can only eat one serving per month. (source)
“Pregnant women and children have been warned against eating game such as pheasant, deer and grouse killed with lead shot because it could pose a serious risk to their health. In an official statement released on Monday, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said that everyone who ate lead-shot game regularly should cut down on it because it was potentially toxic. Dr Alison Gleadle, the agency’s director of food safety, said that advice was ‘especially important’ for pregnant women, toddlers, children and women trying for a baby as exposure ‘can harm the developing brain and nervous system’.” (source)
4. It’s Better For the Environment
Veganism is better for the environment by reducing our carbon footprint. Factory farming uses up 70% of all fresh water drawn from waterways, lakes and aquifers, according to the U.N. It takes 2,500 gallons to produce ONE pound of beef and only 25 gallons to produce a serving of rice or a grain. By going meat free for even once a week, you can save over 84,000 gallons of water per year! More than 1/3 of all fossil fuels are used to make meat, either in transporting it, refrigerating it and in use petrochemical fertilizers for feedstock crops. (source) ” Factory animal farms produce more greenhouse gas than the entire transportation system of the country.” (source)
Since the question of “where we get our protein” is usually the next thing asked, in my next article, I will explain in depth how much protein a child needs and how to meet those needs with a vegan diet!