Veganism is on the rise in most age groups, but none more than the under 35s. 78% of vegans made the switch while they were aged between 16 and 35, and many of these people first started considering a vegan lifestyle before they hit 16. It’s thought that around 20% of children between 5 and 16 would like to try veganism, and when asked what’s holding them back from making the change, the most common answer is worrying about what their parents would think.
There are many reasons our children are interested in becoming vegans. Some might be looking for a way to tackle climate change and be more environmentally friendly, others might have a love of animals. Some might do it for health reasons. We can’t deny that children today have a much greater awareness of the world around them, and a desire to be a part of it. As parents, hearing that our children want to follow a vegan diet can be daunting, but it’s important that we support their choices, and do our best to incorporate them into family life. Here are some tips to help you.
Embrace the Chance to Try New Flavors
If as a family you’ve mainly stuck to a traditional meat and two veg kind of diet, losing the meat can make meal planning a challenge. But it’s also a great opportunity for everyone to try new ingredients and flavors and explore some more exotic fruit and veg, as well as pulses and grains which might not have been a part of family mealtimes up until now. Even if the rest of you continue to eat animal products, expanding the other foods that you eat will never be a bad thing.
Find Places to Eat Out
Eating is a social pleasure and eating out with our children should be something that we can all enjoy. It’s certainly something that helps them to build good habits with food and excellent social skills. You might worry that eating out with a vegan is tricky, but there are more options than ever before. Most large restaurants offer vegan choices, and popular vegan eateries are fantastic for families. Take some time to search for the best vegan restaurants near me and take a look at Native Foods menus, which can also give you more ideas of what to cook at home.
Focus on Nutrition
Many people who make the switch to veganism in later life struggle with nutrition. Just taking meat, dairy, and other animal products out of your diet, but otherwise eating what you did before can lead to digestive problems, weight loss, and malnutrition. Help your child to understand what their body needs, and explore ways to find extra calcium, protein, and vitamins. While most nutrients can be found in other foods, vitamin B12, for example, isn’t available from plants, so your child should take a supplement.
Make Sure They are Getting Enough Energy
Veganism can be very healthy, and vegans often find it easy to maintain a healthy weight. But for children, who require energy to grow, getting enough calories is incredibly important. Most fruit and vegetables are very low in fat, which is something that children need, so make sure they are eating things like seeds, nuts, olive oil, tofu, and enriched dairy alternatives to support their growth.
The most important things that you can do as a parent to someone experimenting with veganism are listening and learning. Listen to their reasons, take the time to learn with them, about the benefits of veganism, but also the challenges. Learn more about nutrition, explore new foods, and keep an eye on your child’s health and fitness, to make sure you are giving them everything that they need. If you have any concerns, speak with them, and find solutions to any nutritional worries together, without pressuring them to eat meat and dairy.