How to Introduce Your Kids to Vegan and Plant-Based Diets

November 11 2021

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Vegan and plant-based diets can be a healthy way to eat, but there are some challenges that parents may run into when introducing their kids.
One of the biggest concerns for any parent is how to introduce vegan or plant-based meal options without scaring kids away from them forever. While it's important to meet your nutritional needs as a vegan, it's also crucial to not scare kids with too much information too soon.

How to start?

The first step in starting any child on a new type of diet, including those that are more natural or less processed than what they might be used to, is to provide small portions and introduce one food at a time. This prevents the reaction that children often have when they're faced with a plate full of new food and a desire not to eat it.

It's also important to introduce vegan or plant-based options as being just as good as the traditional fare kids are used to. This is especially true for those who may have been raised vegetarian or vegan, perhaps with grandparents or others serving as role models. In addition, the focus should be on how good these foods taste rather than what they contain and don't contain.

If a child doesn't know about all of the unhealthy ingredients in their favorite junk foods, there's no sense telling them now. Instead, start with something familiar and show them that even if they think they don't like healthy food before trying it, plant-based meals can still taste great.

Another potential challenge for parents is getting children to eat these meals, especially if they do not like vegetables or other plant components. While it can be helpful to cook the same meal as the rest of your family despite whether your child will eat it or not, there are times where alternatives need to be considered. Just as with adults who don't want to eat healthy food by choice, kids should still have options that taste good and help them grow up healthy.

This could mean including vegan versions of traditional dishes such as pot pies and macaroni and cheese; others might prefer a more vegetable-heavy menu consisting mostly of soups and salads. Parents need to pay attention and make sure their kids get enough protein, iron, and other nutrients that are often harder to get in vegan diets.

Try something new

If the child is open to trying new things at all, it can also be helpful to mix up their diet so they don't feel like they're being forced to eat only foods that are "good for them." If your daughter wants macaroni and cheese one night while you're having chili, try making vegan versions of both meals and see which she prefers. It will show her that even if she has a favorite meal that isn't plant-based, she still might enjoy these options if you make it. The goal, after all, is to expand food choices rather than limit them along with nutritional information.

Another issue parents may encounter when starting their kids on vegan or plant-based diets is how they will feel being the only one at school or around friends who don't eat the same as everyone else. In many cases, this may cause them to turn down invitations from peers to avoid having to bring their food, which could make it harder for children to make and keep friends.
Such situations should be mitigated by creating a support system within the family that allows a child to feel empowered in their choices without worrying about what others might think.

This means not teasing them for bringing special foods along, opting instead for enthusiastic encouragement when possible, and supporting their choice even if you don't always agree with it.
That support can come from anywhere - siblings grandparents or other relatives - but should also come from within the child, which is why it's important to offer choices and make healthy foods taste good.

You can do it together!

Parents can also cook with kids vegan food together, which is one way to introduce them to the concept. Another option is reading vegan books to children, watching vegan-friendly shows together, and exposing them to positive images of people who live this way. It might take some time for kids to embrace the lifestyle, but parents must maintain a supportive presence throughout their journey into adulthood.

However, there is no need for pressure, children should choose what to eat. If they want meat, let them eat it. But if they want to be vegetarian or vegan - just encourage that and show that this lifestyle is healthy and delicious.
The way you talk about food has a lot of influence too: don't say "meat is unhealthy" but rather "this vegetarian chili is healthy". Also, try not to use phrases like "when I was a kid we didn't eat much vegetables" because kids can see through such statements and won't respect what you say (after all, every generation tries to blame the next one for their problems).

When we grow up we choose our preferences and diets; this doesn't mean parents should stop caring about us. You can still offer your support and guidance, just respect our choices as well.
And don't go on a crusade with your kids! If you want them to become vegetarians or vegans, please remember that health is not the only aspect of their life. Let them play with friends, watch TV and play computer games. Don't let yourself be too influencing - this can even cause eating disorders in some cases (for example anorexia).

Nutrition is important but it's always better if we learn about it ourselves and make our own decisions by ourselves without mommy and daddy's influence. Praise should come from other sources than just adults; if you're not vegan/vegetarian, try telling your children what food they've cooked tastes great and how proud you are for such good results.


Ugh. Don’t force your kids to go completely vegan or vegetarian. Full balanced meals are the best for growing youngsters.
thenuclearhamster / 2021-11-11 00:36:00

Children need broad diets to develop and grow into healthy adults. A vegan diet is far too restrictive.
ihatekinja999 / 2021-11-13 15:36:04