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Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.

Raising a Vegan Baby: The First Year

Written by Amy Snyder | August 25, 2011

This is such a cliché, but it seems like just yesterday that my son was born. The 40-plus hours of labor that I suffered through felt like it lasted a lifetime, but the year since then has gone by in a flash. Now that I’m celebrating my son Dylan’s very first birthday—and a rock ‘n’ roll birthday, at that—I’ve realized it’s a good time to pass on what I’ve learned as a first-time vegan parent who is raising a vegan child.

Dylan enjoying vegan cake on his first birthday

First and foremost, raising your child vegan isn’t as difficult or complicated as some sources might lead you to believe. Babies need lots of love and care during their first year, but there are only a few areas of their early life that you need to veganize.

Milk

Doctors recommend breastfeeding infants, and yep, breast milk is vegan. If you can’t breastfeed or choose not to, you can try to score breast milk from a vegan donor by going through an approved milk bank, or you can go the soy formula route. The vitamins in soy formula may contain trace amounts of animal products, but you can check with the manufacturer and decide what is best for your family. Please be sure to read PETA’s stance on trace amounts of animal products.

Food

A baby’s first foods are typically fruits, veggies, and rice cereal—all of which are naturally vegan. Once your baby is ready for small pieces of food instead of having everything pureed, you can introduce proteins such as tofu, tempeh, and soft cooked beans, and there’s no need for meat! Just remember to feed your baby, vegan or not, a wide variety of foods and a balanced diet.  

Personal Care

There are currently a ton of options for all-natural, vegan baby lotion, bath wash, diaper cream, and more. I personally love the smell of Method’s Squeaky Green Hair + Body Wash, which is scented with rice milk and mallow. Delicious!

Clothing

Vegans skip fur, leather, and wool in favor of cruelty-free fabrics, but as most babies I know aren’t sporting leather pants or fur coats, this one is easy. Most play clothes are made from cotton—it’s only the dressier items that may contain wool and the shoes that may contain leather, so be sure to read the label.

The doctors and child-care providers that I’ve been in touch with during Dylan’s first year have been extremely knowledgeable about veganism and supportive of my choice. They seem to respect that every parent has the right to choose what is best for their child and raise them according to those beliefs, until the child can make his or her own choices. I realize that this isn’t the case for everyone and that some people might act like you are depriving your child by choosing a vegan diet for him or her, but who could say that this little guy doesn’t look healthy and happy?

This advice is just the tip of the iceberg, and I’d like to know what all the other vegan moms out there think too. What are your best tips or advice for parenting a vegan infant?

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  • vegan baby in Baltimore says:

    My baby is 10 months old, and we started making her vegan purees at 5 months. Now she’s on to finger foods, all vegan. The problem is, she’s now not eating her purees (where I could puree beans and lentils) and not eating beans and lentils as a finger food. (She eats a very soft cooked chick pea or 2 and some tofu every once in a while). She loves sweet potatoes, green beans, cauliflower, pears, cheerios, rotini pasta, peas, blueberries. She does not like when I try to spice things up, and very rarely gets protein now (unless from my breastmilk). Trying anything new is difficult – I just keep it on her tray until she finally tries it, could be days (we sometimes give her what is on our plate, and will be doing more of that soon). So I guess my question is, how do you deal with a picky eater? I guess I should not stress out about this too much, because we don’t plan on weaning at 1 year – we’ll let her take the lead. But still, I figure either I am doing something wrong, or she’s just picky, and that could be an issue. Also, what about the research on soy? I plan to introduce almond milk at 1 year, instead of soy milk. But I wanted to know what people thought about the adverse effects of soy especially on children. I understand the adverse effects are mostly if the entire diet is soy products, but just wanted to hear from others what they think, as I am getting hesitant to give my daughter any soy product, which further hinders the kind of protein she can have. Thanks for any support.

  • Kymberli says:

    I just wanted to add that I was vegan once upon a time during my early 20′s for about six yrs & stopped with no real reason jus that during those college yrs, it jus wasn’t convenient to eat different from all your friends. Not that My spouse & i have a family of own, six children included all of us are vegan. When the children were infants, they were all breast fed, during the weaning period, jus to make sure they had enough iron & protein, I would puree tofu along with spinach & a few bananas for sweetness, all of th children are honor roll students, healthy & measure right where they are suppose to for growth… Now it took several years to get where we are wth some knowledge & tricks but this family will not return to meats besides we only consume meat for its protein properties, we clearly can get that from other sources…as for the mother in panama, to give your child added protein, add beans, as many as the little one will consume…feel free to email me moms, I will share with you my many ups and downs of rearing six vegan babies & transforming my meat loving spouse into a fellow who will not touch the stuff now! Our stories will uplift, inspire…see you on the other side…Kymberli

  • Soon to be father! says:

    I pulled this paragraph from an article online Grandma Joan, I hope this can maybe shed a little light on your problem. Hope he is doing well!

    “By 6 months of age, iron stores in omnivorous, vegetarian and vegan infants will become depleted and it is important that iron-rich foods are included in the diet. Iron-fortified infant cereals are a good way to supply iron to vegan infants Other good sources include whole grains, pulses, green leafy vegetables and dried fruits. To enhance iron absorption, add a source of vitamin C such as green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, blackcurrants or orange juice to the meal. “

  • Aleksandra says:

    Astrid, we’re all natural born vegans. :)

  • Grandma Joan says:

    My 22 month old grandson is being raised a vegan. He gets fruit for breakfast, vegies for lunch, almond milk . He is quite whiney and often cries in the night. He is very active and looks healthy.
    As a grandma I am worried about his iron stores and bones, HELP ME understand this diet!!!

  • Valerie says:

    My child is 11 months old and I’m raising her vegan. Since day one she has not had any meat or cow products. I do not buy over the counter baby food. I make it at home. As far as snacks, I’m very careful of what I choose over the counter. For the 1st time 3 days ago bought some organic strawberry & beet puffs. But overall I do alot of home cooking and preparing great snacks natually. I’m not vegan but I will be there soon. Enjoyed everyone’s comments.

  • Sneaky Vegan says:

    Thanks so much for sharing. My baby just turned 5 months old and I’m obsessing about what I’m going to feed him. Admittedly I’m not vegan, or even vegetarian, but I know that the meat and other animal products available today are far more unhealthy than the stuff I was raised on. Between the growth hormones, antibiotics and other genetically-mutated crap that animals are being fed (coupled with the intentionally misleading labels on things marketed as free of all that when they’re really not) the thought of putting any of that into my baby’s tiny body absolutely terrifies me. Great to know that there are so many healthy alternatives for kids!

    Having said that, does anyone know what the best substitute for cow’s milk? Apparently it’s not just the protein they need, but the cholesterol and fat as well…

  • Green Tidings says:

    It is very easy to raise a vegan baby. Here’s an idea of how much food a vegan baby/toddler needs: http://www.greentidings.blogspot.com/search/label/Plant-Based%20Food%20Guide%20for%20Toddlers%201-3%20years

  • Astrid says:

    I understand how some people can be skeptical about vegan, I certainly was. When I first saw a “vegan” product, I asked the lady at the counter what was that and she explained. I thought “weird.” I had a friend that was vegetarian and when we ate together she would try endlessly to convince me that I become vegetarian, I always replied to her stating that I knew where I was in the food chain and that I loved meat.
    Time went on and I married someone that had in the past been vegetarian but had stopped that.
    I had never really been interested in learning about food and in fact resented people trying to educate me on the subject as I felt the subject was too complicated and could not be learned. However when I became pregnant I realized that I HAD to learn about nutrition as it was no longer about myself but I had to ensure my baby was healthy and I knew that I needed to ensure she had the right food. I started studying and there were so many theories, viewpoints, diets, etc that to me they all seem to be contradicting each other and I felt I was not getting anywhere. When my child was born and I was force to supplement because I was told that my breastfeeding was not enough and that she was going to have to go to emergency, I freaked out. When I gave her the commercial formulas she was lethargic and totally knocked out. So I decided to try an old fashioned Baby formula that contained cow milk, this went fine for 6 months and she became sick for couple of months and she would not get better and I was even told that she had asthma, I freaked out. I cut out the cow milk out of her diet and within a week she was totally healthy again.
    About 6 months later, my husband and I watched several films:
    “Fat, Sick and nearly Dead,” “Eating,” “Forks over Knifes” and “Food, Inc” these films gave me some stable data regarding nutrition, eating habits and the sorry state of affairs of Americans’ health. I UNDERSTOOD the vegan concept and why one would do it.
    As well I started reading the book “The China Study” by Drs Campbell – this book for the first time explained totally the concept of protein that had been bugging me for as long as I remember and it totally makes sense.
    Though my husband and I are working on getting rid of all of our bad animal-based eating habits, we are working towards making this a vegan home. My daughter LOVES vegetables, more than fruits! She never liked the meats when I tried giving these to her so she is a natural born vegan and she is extremely active, walked by the time she was 9 months and is extremely intelligent. I am glad the materials in those films were available to me as I can feel so much better myself but I feel more confident of the healthy future of my daughter.

  • Veganize me says:

    For the people that believe a vegan lifestyle is depriving a young child of a choice. You’re simply wrong.
    An omnivore diet isn’t what’s recommended or seen as healthier. It’s only seen as the better option because most of society practice it. However when you say, ‘ the child isn’t given an to reject veganism, so therefore your depriving them of the choice’ you sound ignorant. The child isn’t given a choice to reject an omnivore diet either.
    Take it into consideration

  • angie says:

    Jami-
    90% of your baby’s protein requirements comes from Breastmilk or formula. That is why the only beverage you give a baby before the age of 1 yr should be Breastmilk or formula. When you give your baby other beverages you run the risk of malnutrition. A couple of ounces of water a day tops is okay after 10 months of age. As for food with protein, Beans and legumes are and should be your best friend. Beans are a perfect source of protein and should be apart of all Vegans diet plan. They are perfect for babies because they can easily feed themselves and helps with their motor skills. Start off with kidney beans, first give the inside of the bean to your baby and slowly but surely keep some of the skin on as the days go by. By the second week your baby should be able to digest the entire bean with the skin with no problems. Lentils are great choice too. I never “made” food for my baby, through research I’ve found purees are unnecessary and are a 1950′s craze that for some reason stuck around…food just has to be cooked soft enough to swallow and be in small enough pieces, all you have to do is eat a balanced and offer your baby what you are eating from your plate. My baby has never been on cereal either, he gets his iron from my Breast Milk.
    Sample dinner for my 10 month old last night -
    first I breast fed him since all of his required nutrients are in my Breastmilk (if you’re not breastfeeding use formula) Then he had sweet potato, black beans, avocado and carrots off my plate. Good fats, good carbs and good protein, balanced. Before meal time you should breastfeed or formula feed your baby so he or she get all of it nutrients first, feeding a baby solids is second always to Breastmilk or formula for the first year. Grains, nuts and hemp will be added to his diet after the first year, I held off to prevent allergies to these foods. As for fortified drinks after yr one, I plan on doing baby led weaning , so my son will continue getting what he needs from my breastmilk but I do plan on giving him almond, hemp and flaxseed milk once he’s fully weaned. Hang in there Mama!

  • Jami says:

    I am a mostly vegan mom living in Panama and its hard! I say mostly vegan because I started eating eggs during pregnancy because I was having trouble finding good protein sources. I live in a place were people don’t even know what a vegetarian is! So there are no substitute foods and little variety. I can get Rice milk and Almond milk, well and of course Soy, but we are dairy & soy free, eggs is our one non-vegan source. We get get quinoa. Ok, thats about it outside the normal animal loving diet. No kale or leafy greens either. Any ideas on how to keep my little vegan healthy without these things? Should I just give him supplement? Also, I want to use rice milk to put in his cereal, but read somewhere that is bad. What do you think? He is 8.5mths. He like rice milk and its just a tiny bit. Just finished making a ton of baby food!

  • Mel says:

    Heather, you write your comment in a way that makes it seem that raising a vegan child is somehow taking choice away from her. As a parent, one must make many choices for a child, including what doctor to see, which daycare to go to, what preschool to attend, whether to use cloth or disposable diapers, and many other important decisions. As parents, our JOB is to choose for a child until they are old enough to make choices for themselves (depending on the child this could be when they are around 10 years old). My hope is that every parent will make the most compassionate choice possible, which is to raise their child vegan within the vegan lifestyle.

    I encourage you to take a look at the myriad healthy vegan babies and children in this world, and to speak with a doctor, before making assumptions about this choice. I personally had both my doctor and my OB-GYN immediately bless my plans to remain vegan throughout pregnancy and raise a vegan baby. In fact, my OB-GYN (who is herself an omnivore) was overjoyed that I was willing to take steps to raise such a HEALTHY baby! I’m sure if you speak with a medical practitioner you will understand that your current opinion has been derived from a lack of knowledge on the topic of child nutrition needs, and is likely influenced by a cultural taboo against veganism. Once you research the topic and speak with experts you will understand that veganism is an amazing option for raising children to be healthy and compassionate members or our society.

  • jill says:

    my daughter is 10 months old and I plan on raising her vegan as well :) it so much natural and I agree it should be the childs choice if they want to contribute to animal abuse or not. She is too young to decide now so I will not force anything on her. A vegan lifestyle is actually more healthy and beneficial than an omnivore one.

  • Alyssa says:

    This message is in response to Heather…
    I WISH I had started life as a vegan. A child should have the CHOICE to decide whether or not their are fine with consuming meat or dairy. It isn’t fair to feed your child food without them knowing the REAL process that resulted in that piece of bacon or glass of milk.
    When you really think about where dairy comes from you will realize how unnatural it is. You are doing your child a favour if you give them the choice. Since a child cannot tell you, why not give them the best? As long as you provide them with a balanced diet it is the best thing you can do for your child.
    You should read literature on the health issues and environmental issues caused by using animals for food and everything else. There are countless benefits to being vegan and it is actually healthier than consuming animal products.

  • Amanda says:

    My wife and I have been Vegan for almost 2 years. I lost 30 pounds and my wife lost 34. We have never felt better. We have an incredible amount of energy. We are preparing to get pregnant and have every intention of raising our child in a Vegan lifestyle. People always assume we are malnourished, lacking in protein and it is absurd! We get more protein and nutrients than most of the people we know.. I hope at some point people will do their research before slinging accusations. People feel it is infringing on the rights of a child to raise them Vegan, yet no one thinks twice about infringing upon someones religious choices. People thrust Christianity on a child before they have the option to choose.. just sayin..

  • Heather says:

    I know im going to get alot of shit for saying this but i think its wrong to make a child a vegan. If he decides to be vegan then thats great, but at that age he cant. I think its rather unhealthy to make a child a vegan, especially one so young.

  • Mary Ellen Bowen says:

    We have a new book just out called the Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide from the Book Publishing Company. Write maryellen@bookpubco.com for more information.

  • Rach says:

    Careful with soy products and formula for infants, soy can cause hormone imbalance… I would do some research before giving that to your baby..

  • Molly says:

    This article is fantastic! I’ve heard many people claim that raising a child on a vegan diet is akin to starvation and child abuse! Thank you for shining a light on how that is untrue. Your pictures of Dylan are just adorable as well!

  • Jasmine says:

    It’s really great to know that there are so many parents out there who are deciding on the often more difficult but much healthier approach to raising happy children. I think that it’s important for moms and dads to have support when it comes to a vegan lifestyle because I know it can sometimes be a controversial issue with certain people (friends and family too!) that are misinformed. My husband and I are soon to be parents (38 weeks pregnant) and are very excited to be able to give our baby girl the head start that neither of us had. Thank you for the article :)

  • Vegan Family of 3 says:

    My son is 21 months old and we are raising him on a vegan diet. He is such a healthy, happy little guy. His favorite foods are waffles, avocado, hummus and crackers and almond butter. I breastfed Lucas for 1 year and after that transitioned to unsweetened coconut milk, almond milk and occasionally hemp milk as his primary “dairy/calcium” drinks. He has only been sick twice in his 2 years of life (with minor colds) and loves to eat, climb, play and get into mischief like any other growing toddler. My pediatrician has always been supportive. She said he eats a more varied and balanced diet than any of her other meat-eating patients. I have Celiac Disease, but we are not just rice flour eaters in this house. When it was time for rice cereal during his first year, he had quinoa cereal and buckwheat cereal, too. This guy doesn’t do Gerber Graduates meals…he will have kale and corn soup any day over macaroni and cheese. I think by introducing such a wide variety of plant based foods and gluten free whole grains at an early age we have avoided a lot of “picky eater” situations. Also, people sometimes ask me how we can make this decision for our son at an early age without his consent. Seriously, how can people make the choice to feed their children meat and dairy at such an early age knowing the health problems that can be avoided otherwise? How can we NOT feed our son as a vegan knowing that we are giving him the very best start to life that we can with a strong immune system and healthy mind and body. It was great reading the stories of the other families out there who are doing the same for their little ones. So happy to hear about all the little vegans out there!

  • Silja says:

    Wow! This is incredible, and by sharing your story, you’re helping lots of people out there. It’s such an indescribably amazing act on your part. ♥
    What a lucky baby, too. I wish everyone was raised Vegan since they came to this world, it’d make such a vital impact on a countless amount of things.

  • Helen says:

    I too have a son who turned 1 last week, called Dylan, that was born after 40+ hours of labour, but he’s a vegetarian instead of a vegan! He loves his food, eats healthily without any fuss and is never ill, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it so long as you substitute the food groups and feed them a balanced diet.

  • Vinsue says:

    My little Grand daughter is being raised Vegan and I’m thrilled. At one year old she loves Hummus,she is bright and healthy,and I am so encouraged to know that lot’s of young parents are shifting away from animal products in their diets. This is the smartest thing for your kids, and the kindest thing for the planet.

  • Jen says:

    You go Angie! That’s pretty much what I was going to say (: So many meat eaters ask me the same questions, which seem so silly to me. Nobody ever cared about what I ate until I became almost vegan (still making my transition). But since my quest, I’ve lost 30 lbs, my face cleared up, I am all around happy, and my doc says I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been! All my vitamin levels are perfect. I also plan on raising my child vegan, when I finally have one. I’ve already lined up nutritionists and pediatricians that are vegan friendly, and I’m not even pregnant yet! All it takes is a little research and an good grocery list to get everything you need as a vegan. I wish people would stop making it seem hard or wrong! Although, I do agree with avoiding soy. I still enjoy it, but less than once a week. When I was eating it daily, it really messed with my hormones. But since cutting back, everything is back to normal. My nephew is 15 months old and still nursing, and will continue to nurse until he decides he’s done. He drinks breast milk and water. He LOVES his water. No juice, no milk, just water. And he is extremely healthy! He’s also not vaccinated, but his ped says his immune system is strong enough that he doesn’t need to be vaccinated. Vegan diets truly are wonderful!

  • Tricia says:

    I am raising my kids vegetarian, but they get some animal products at Grandma’s, etc, because so far, I can’t seem to stop it, or I am letting them make the decision. I only went vegan when they were 4 1/2 and they do eat vegan at home. Their dad is still an omnivore. I am being truthful with them though. I am sharing what it is they are eating – like they KNOW if they eat sausage that isn’t mommy’s then they are eating pig and they will ask people. I have found that 9 times out of 10, they CHOOSE the vegan or vegetarian option when they KNOW what they are eating is actually dead animal. It is my opinion that if more kids knew what they were eating instead of just eating what is given to them with no questions asked, then we would have more vegan/vegetarian kids. Having raised my first son, now 19, as an omnivore, I see a distinct difference for the better – their feet are not growing at an alarming rate and they are thinner with better muscle tone. As for smarter, no, they are not, but I think a lot of factors come into play there, not just diet. I hope that they will choose to go vegan with me as they age. Their dad is very supportive and eats vegan when I cook and I think that at some point he will go vegan too. Cheese is hard for him. I thought it would be for me too, but then I found Daiya. I have been so happy with the nutrients I get from the fresh veggies, legumes, etc, and though it took a little while to learn a new way of cooking, I now think I can make nearly anything vegan and this is only in about 6 months time. I have yet to find a Doctor that is supportive of vegan or vegetarian lifestyles however, but I am still searching. My pediatrician told me flat out that I HAD to feed them milk after I quit breastfeeding. I told her that I didn’t, and she made me feel quite ignorant for feeling I knew more than she did. Times are changing and I wish more pediatricians would change with them. They would see a lot less obese kids if they did! Thanks for your article and KUDOS on your decision. :)))

  • Lora says:

    Good job! I just wanted to say a little something about breastfeeding. I feel like if you’re willing to go to the hassles of raising your child vegan, that you should REALLY TRY to go to the hassle of breastfeeding for one year. Breastfeeding is not easy, I know, I’ve nursed three babies over the past four years. My most recent baby has been a breeze, but my first two were a constant struggle.

    I mostly just want to encourage new moms to breastfeed as long as possible. It hurts, you wonder if they’re gaining enough weight, it’s time consuming, you can’t go back to work and it’s not exactly a social ice-breaker…but it’s only one year of your life. One year out of maybe ninety? And if it means your child can avoid lifelong allergies, or worse, then I think it’s worth it. It also takes the stress out of introducing solids, knowing that your child is getting everything he/she needs from your breast milk.

    Remember, there was a time when there was no formula at all. Just hang in there and it will come. I know sometimes it seems like torture, but you can do it.

    Sorry, that is all. I feel kind of strongly about breastfeeding…obv.

  • DSR25 says:

    Your son looks fantastically healthy and happy! I have just completed a vegan pledge month and hope to become vegan over the next six months once I have a full book of recipes to support me! I am a typical meat eater – overweight and unhealthy – I, like Bill Clinton, am moving to a vegan diet to reverse my poor diet to date. Any tips on how to add more grains to my diet would be appreciated, as I struggle to meet the triangles suggested targets on portions!

  • Jane says:

    Very inspiring indeed.

  • Kenny says:

    Dylan’s a real beauty!!! I’m not a Mom , or even a parent but reading this wonderful article got me thinking of the Jains from India. It’s part of their beliefs to be cruelty free for centuries now, and maybe if interested finding out about these older cultures, who are still around today,can give some tips? I have nice recipes from Hindi culture, but can’t write too much here,it’s getting late.
    I’m writing a song right now with the working title ” vegan baby” or “baby vegan” ,i was surprised to see this right after i wrote it! Good karma! Your beautiful article is a real motivator!!! Only greed,lust or ignorance is carnivorous…. Thanks for sharing.
    Oh and i feel going holistic is important as well as avoiding GMO’s , besides being untested and all over, they may contain animal genes, even in a piece of corn! Sick world…..

  • Anonymous says:

    Angie, thanks for your comments to the “concerned observer.” I get so tired of people passing judgement on vegans when they have no clue what goes into their own mouths.

  • Angie says:

    To concerned observer,
    Thank you for your concern. I’m assuming you know exactly what you eat? I know I do. I get every nutrient that is recommended from my plant based diet and then some. Where do yoy get your fatty acids from? I get it from hemp protein, flax, borage, primrose and more. I also get my protein from legumes, beans, nuts, whole grains, vegetables about 70g a day on average. How many grams do you get? The reason I ask is because that simple question can be asked to most meat eaters and 9 times out of 10 they don’t have a clue in my experience. How much iron do you get? I get a crap load because I eat greens and exclusively cook out of cast iron pots and pans. While pregnant I tested through the roof in iron, the highest they ever had :) What sources of calcium do you get? I get mine from mostly greens and which have been proven to be a delicious way to get it, yum kale, my fav. Where do you get you vitamin D from, I get mine from a plant based supplement also portabello mushrooms and of course the sun, all you need is 15 mins a day on parts of you body to get a good vitamin D storage. B12 is tricky, I get most of it from nutritional yeast.

    In the end there is a way to get all of the nutrients needed and to thrive in a plant based diet, it takes some reading, but It’s easy. My son from birth has been in the 98-102 percentile in growth and development. Don’t you worry, my baby gets everything that promotes great mental and physical development. How many meat eaters do you know throw caution to the wind and assume their baby gets all that the need from the dairy eating, meat eating diet?…Most people I know have know idea what their child is getting out of their food…I think It’s less of a vegan problem and more of a parenting problem when it comes to malnutrition in babies and kids. You have to remember that the push for making dairy part of the basic food groups were a advertising campaign by the dairy industry about 60 yrs ago, they actually funded it! The idea that you can only get vit D and a good source of calcium from only milk has been disproven. What did the human race do before the domesticated cow?

    My vegan diet is complete and so is my baby’s. Can you say that about yours? And by the way we hardly eat soy…we probably eat less then the average meat eater.

  • concerned observer says:

    Are any of you concerned about long term developmental issues with your children that won’t show up untill they are older? How will you feel if lack of fats and oils etc are the reasons for these problems many professionals feel you will be faced with?

  • VeganMom says:

    My husband and I went vegan 20 years ago and now have two beautiful children; 14 and 11. Both are being raised on a compassionate ALL VEGAN diet and have never eaten animal products. They are both healthier, taller, smarter and stronger than most of their friends (really!). Regarding soy… I would avoid soy due to the high phytoestrogen. My daughter developed breast buds at 15 months when I stopped nursing her and switched to soy milk. Hospital tests revealed she had too much estrogen and was actually experiencing premature puberty. We have since restricted our use of soy and avoid processed soy products. It can be hard to overcome the brainwashing we received as kids about the need to drink milk. World wide, children don’t drink any milk once they stop nursing, and we need to keep that in mind when thinking we need to ‘switch’ to some other type of milk. Water is a the source of all life and it’s what my kids drink the most of. No empty calories or sugar. Your child will get all the vitamins and minerals they need from the whole food you feed them. Select organic, whole, fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, etc. and you’ll be on the right track! Fast vegan food can be attractive because it’s convenient and can allow your child to ‘fit in’, but these foods are highly processed and should used only on occasion; like cookouts or birthday parties. Forge ahead and don’t worry about what your pediatrician says. Be your own advocate and educate yourself about nutrition, food safety, vaccinations, etc. http://www.PCRM.org is a great place to start. Trust your instincts and know you’re providing your children with the BEST possible diet for their health, the planet and the animals.

  • Gabriela says:

    I’m not a mom, but I’ve heard from friends, articles and news that breast-feeding your baby as long as possible before introducing soy foods directly to them helps avoid soy allergies, which is obviously an awful thing to have if you’re going to be a vegan! My mom fed me a lot of sweet potatoes, bananas and cereal while I was just growing into eating real food. Although most of my protein resources came from drinks like formula and milk, my doctor said that was just fine as long as I was growing and functioning well. But be sure to ask your pediatrician if it’s right for your own children!

  • Amy-C says:

    Elaine, great advice about the ADA and how to deal with real world situations, like a birthday party. Thanks for sharing!

  • Elaine says:

    I’m raising my son vegan. The number one piece of advice I have is to find a doctor who is educated about vegetarianism and veganism and who supports your decision. This one thing will help tremendously as some people will question your choices. When you can say with confidence, “my pediatrician supports my choice to raise my son vegan and my son is growing well” that will help many people relax about it.

    My son drank soy formula for the first year and now drinks soy milk. Millions of kids around the world have consumed soy formula and soy milk in earlier years. It’s proven to be a healthy and safe option. Obviously, breast is best but when you can’t go that route, choose a commercial soy formula and feel good about it!

    I strictly follow the mainstream advice for raising vegan children from the American Dietetic Association as well as the information provided by the Vegetarian Resource Group and Vegan Health. I highly recommend those resources.

    Lastly, I have to say that as a vegan parent my primary aim of raising my son as a vegan is to foster compassion and empathy in my child as well as to nurture healthy habits so he can grow up strong and capable. So I steer him away from hotdogs and hamburgers, ice cream and soda, but if he wants to eat one slice of nonvegan birthday cake at a friend’s party I let him. Because it’s not about making life complicated or difficult, it’s about avoiding animal products as much as practical and possible in order to refrain from causing unecessary suffering and death for nonhuman animals. I have faith that when he gets older and has a better understanding of what is and what isn’t an animal product, he’ll choose to avoid nonvegan baked goods (which for all proactical purposes are indestinguishable from vegan baked goods) all on his own.

  • Amy-C says:

    Brazenbaroness, check out our guide to ‘Making the Transition’ to a vegan diet: http://www.peta.org/living/vegetarian-living/making-the-transition-vegetarian.aspx. I hope it helps.

  • Sarah with Veggie Kids says:

    Kudos to you!! I’ve been raising my three boys vegan and although there have been some challenges along the way (mostly when it involves outings or school functions involving group foods), it has been amazing and eye opening. My children have a vast appreciation for what they’re doing for their bodies, animals and our Earth. I love hearing stories about other parents raising their children vegan!!

  • Amy-C says:

    Maria,
    Overwhelming evidence indicates that soy foods are beneficial and none of my health care providers have advised against my son consuming soy. It’s packed with protein, has zero cholesterol and may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. And soy is only a part of his well balanced diet. He eats (and eats and eats!) lots of beans, grains and veggies too. I hope this additional info helps. :)

  • DC says:

    I’m raising two vegan kids. Their doctor worried in the beginning until she did blood work on them. Once the results came back she told me to keep doing whatever I’m doing because they are perfectly healthy! My kids are five and six years old now and have NEVER eaten anything from an animal.

  • Amy-C says:

    Taryn,
    I wish there was an easier way to find pro-veg pediatricians but I think your best bet might be checking out the VegFamily.com or BabyCenter.com message boards. Baby Center has several veg groups and city specific groups, so you could ask the moms there. Or you could call several pediatricians in your area before taking the time to schedule an appointment. Good luck!

  • Amy-C says:

    Rachel,

    My son is transitioning to a sippy cup at the moment and I’m giving him a combination of unsweetened almond milk and unsweetened soy milk. He loves them both!

  • Brazenbaroness says:

    I need help! I want to , cold turkey, become a vegetarian as of today. My 2 older children too. 9 and 7. Are there resorces out there somewhere to helpus get started?how you are raising your baby!

  • Jen13 says:

    I raised my boy vegan until he was 3 when his father and I had separated-His father up and decided it was best to feed him meat-starting with MacDonalds-ick! It was a complete nightmare for me.I honestly think his father really just wanted to wind me up rather than think of his son’s nutrition.I was so careful with my sons diet and he was in such amazing health-it was almost a lost cause then as the courts portray you quite wacky and marginal if you brought it up as an issue in a custody dispute-especially 15 years ago.I think times have changed now. I had a no smoking clause in my order to prevent smoke getting anywhere near my child..that was vaguely supported-now it is Law!TImes do change for the better!

    The long and short of it is, my son, who is extremely healthy and was a very healthy baby chooses vegan most of the time. I decided to let go of my anger towards his father and leave the issue. If I was too militant it would have looked poorly on me at the time. Fortunately my son has,by example, developed his own ethical stance based on learned compassion for animals from me and an exclusively vegan Mum.He does love my cooking!However he is still torn on pleasing his father with meat eating-or is rather afraid of offending him. I am confident the older he gets he will become more confident to just stick with what feels right for him. Having a solid 1/2 vegan upbringing has been nothing but beneficial.I think the best form of introducing change is by example,flexibility and great support for those just starting the process.

  • Rachel lukasavage says:

    What’s your plans for when you stop breast feeding? What source of milk do you plan on using?

  • @ALYSSA2192 says:

    When I get older and have a child of my own I would love to become vegan and to also have my child be vegan. It will benefit my child and my family in the long run.

  • TarynH says:

    Awesome! Any tips on finding the right pediatrician (one who supports veganism)? I am due in a few months and live in an area that is not very vegan or hip. I want to find a pediatrician who will not fight me on my choice to raise a healthy vegan child.

  • maria says:

    I have heard recently from medical professionals that giving soy milk to infants and children is detrimental because of the hormones involved in soy products. I actually remember hearing one source say that it is like feeding a child birth control pills. What is your response to this criticism?

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