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Many people are skeptical about parents that decide to raise their children on a vegan or strict vegetarian diet. There is a debate if the child should be able to decide for themselves at a later age in life and be given animal products in the meantime. Some extreme critics have the absurdity to consider breastmilk non-vegan (aka “an animal product”).

As a grown adult, many people are interested in varying meat-free diets and will ask questions out of curiosity — as opposed to questions about vegan children that tend to sound like accusations. Others tend to instantly worry about the welfare of the child. Their main concern is typically about if the child is receiving the nutrition and eating what they should to grow to be a healthy adult.

I don’t propose to have an answer to solve this debate. However, numerous studies have shown many varying opinions. Anyone that chooses a vegan lifestyle has their own reasons for doing so — animal cruelty, environmental concerns, health reasons or others. What I do understand is wanting to raise your children with the same values that you hold. Like many others, my concern is the nutrition being provided for the child.

I truly feel that any parent that is going to feeding their children a strict vegetarian or vegan diet they are going to do their due diligence to get them the foods they need to stay healthy. A diet that:

  • Is rich in legumes, nuts and seeds

  • Offers a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables

  • Avoids refined grains

  • Implements beneficial grains, such as quinoa — which offers amino acids and protein

I know that the children I have spent time with whom are practicing vegans enjoy playing with their food. Chopped fruits and vegetables that they can handle and tasty soups are always favorites.

In some cases, children choose to become vegan in a house full of meat eaters. As your children make their own decisions about their diets, reputable nutritional advice is the greatest tool you can give them. As their parent you may still receive criticism by others for allowing your child to go down the path of exploring meat-free diets. Depending on the company you keep, it can a no-win situation.

If your child that has been raised vegan eats some bacon at a friend’s house and decides that they want to start to eat meat, it can open up room for a larger discussion. You can have a chance to explain why you have made the choices to maintain a vegan diet and let them get their wheels turning over their decision. It they do intend on moving forward with bringing meat into their diet, and they are the only one doing so in the household, storing their food so it doesn’t go bad will be an important factor to keeping your fridge from smelling like animal products.

Keeping in mind about you talk about food can help to foster healthy decision making — while eating meat or not. Promoting good food choices in your children will engrain nutritious eating habits into their day-to-day with the hopes of staying with them into adulthood. As long as your child is seeing many fresh fruits and vegetable and is maintaining a balanced diet, you have a defense against any scrutiny against your or your child’s dietary choices.