Tips on Raising Healthy, Happy Vegans: A Guest Blog by Joy Paley

Hello beauties!

First of all, I just want to say - January has been a whirlwind. What with getting back to work, classes, bootcamp sessions (getting stronger by the day!), volunteering, and a very awesome project in the works, I am one busy gal. The result? Only enough time each week for one measly post on my beloved blog.

But do not fear! Although I will be writing to you less frequently, my posts will be about quality, rather than quantity (as all the best blog posts truly are), and I will of course keep you in the know should I need to hibernate for a while here in sunny LA - wait, can one hibernate in 70 degree weather? In January? 
Today, I'm happy to share a guest blog by writer Joy Paley of An Apple A Day , a kiss-worthy new website and blog. Whether it’s the latest medical gadget, a run-down of the best hospital shows on TV, or a sneak peak into local remedies around the world, An Apple A Day covers all kinds of articles about health, wellness, and raising a well-rounded family. I asked Joy to write a little something about raising vegan kiddies, and here's what she had to say. Enjoy!


Tips on Raising Healthy, Happy Vegans
Joy Paley is a science and technology writer based in Berkeley, California. You can read her medical musings on An Apple A Day. She is also a writer on the subject of ultrasound technician schools for The Guide to Health Education.

If you thought your own transition to veganism was rocky (I admittedly still dream about butter sometimes), you haven’t tried to raise a vegan child yet. Turn on the TV, and you can’t escape the kid-targeted marketing for processed sugary convenience foods or the latest head-sized burger form your local fast-food chain. Kids, too, are especially prone to pressure from peers about following a diet that’s so “weird” and different. 

While there are certainly challenges, though, you can’t really overestimate the benefits of introducing your kid to an animal-free diet early on. Besides the impact a vegan diet has on cruel farming practices and animal treatment, it can also prevent diseases that are on the increase in America, like type-2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Here are a few tips to help kids adjust to this diet, and to keep them both healthy and happy.
  • Let Them Be Kids: One thing that can help your kid enjoy being vegan is not letting their diet alienate them from their friends. There are some important aspects of kid-culture your child might be missing out on if you only send them to school with tofu salad everyday. Birthday parties, fun outings, and even lunch in the cafeteria can become awful for a kid with a strange diet. Send them to birthday parties with vegan cupcakes they can eat; pack some Newman-Os in their lunch, so they can have fun treats, too. If you make sure they aren’t missing out, they’ll be less likely to rebel against being vegan.
  • Explain it to Them: I experienced my first vegetarian stint in the fourth grade, when I had the epiphany that the hamburger I was eating came from a real mooing, feeling animal. Kids are great because they haven’t been exposed to all the normalizing effects adults have about a meat-eating diet; understanding that their food choices impact animals will have a real, visceral impact on them. While you don’t have to be overcomplicated in your explanation for veganism, give them your rationale for the diet—you’ll be surprised how much they really will understand.
  • Get Them Enough B-12, Calcium and Vitamin D: Studies have shown that a vegan diet is a perfectly healthy way to raise kids. The only catch is that it’s a bit harder for kids to get B-12, calcium, and vitamin D. B-12 isn’t really present in plant products, so vegan kids should take a supplement. (Nutritional yeast is one vegan source, and it tastes great sprinkled on popcorn.) The vitamin D and calcium can be gotten from fortified products like soymilk, but it doesn’t help to supplement, too.
  • Look at Kid-Friendly Vegan Cookbooks Together: Kids love hands-on activities, and cooking together is a great way to involve your kids in their diet. Try looking at some kid-friendly cookbooks together. The Vegan Lunch Box is highly recommended. Most recipes in vegetarian ones like Kids Can Cook can be adapted to be free of animal products.
  • Visit an Animal Rescue Farm: If you’re lucky enough to have a farm animal rescue near you, I would highly recommend a visit. First and foremost, it’s fun, and kids will love the chance to get up close and personal with some cute sheep or pigs. Secondly, it’s rewarding to understand the impact an animal-free diet can have on these awesome creatures.
  • Indulge them in Vegan Treats: While a vegan diet is great because it’s naturally healthier, kids especially will simply want to eat something delicious and indulgent from time to time. If you live in a metropolitan area, chances are there’s a great vegan restaurant near you. These outings are fun because for once, you and your kid will be able to eat every single thing on the menu, and you’ll be able to order worry-free. If you don’t  have a great vegan eatery nearby, consider hitting up your local grocery for some treats that would be savored by people of any diet. I personally love Coconut Bliss ice cream; it’s deliciously fatty because it uses coconut milk as a base, and not soy.

Many thanks to Joy for this post!

Comments

@Lindsay always quality here! Thank you for that.

@Joy It's so wonderful how majority of the steps have you and your child spending time together! Another plus to living the life. Thank you so much for sharing here.
Minette said…
Fantastic!!! Thank you for all of the great ideas!
Hi Lindsay -- Best of luck with all your exciting projects! Remember to take time for you too! This post came at a good time. I am really working on the diet with my son vis a vis migraines. Taking him to my integrative medicine MD for a cleanse and bloodwork to see what he's missing. Thanks for all your good work.
Lindsay said…
Aw thanks ladies! And Cheryl - keep me posted on how that goes with your soon!
Hi Lindsay,
Thanks for including Coconut Bliss in such an informative post!
Blissful Regards,
Kiley
Lindsay said…
Our pleasure Kiley!