Raising a Vegan Baby

Raise your baby to be vegan while making sure they get all the nutrients they need!

Photo by Reg Vertolli

The Vegan Baby

What does vegan mean?

Vegans don’t eat meat, fish, eggs or milk – nothing that was once part of an animal or comes from an animal. Some vegans do eat honey, but most do not. Many vegans also avoid animal products (such as leather or wool) when buying clothing, footwear and other products.

Of all the mainstream special diets, veganism will get the most raised eyebrows from family, friends and even some doctors if parents choose this diet for their children. While there have been cases of vegan babies who have gotten seriously ill or died because of inadequate nutrition, parents shouldn’t be discouraged from raising their kids vegan as long as they’re aware of what their children need nutritionally for normal growth and development. Dreena Burton is a vegan cookbook author and a mom of three “weegan” girls. She used a baby-led approach to starting solids with her daughters and found it worked very well. “My naturopath gave us a schedule for starting solids that we modified for our plant-based diet,” says Burton. “In short, we introduced certain fruits and veggies first, followed by gluten-free grains and more fruit and veg, then legumes and grains [with gluten] as well as seeds, wheat and peanuts.” People questioned her about the appropriateness of vegan eating for babies. She and her husband had already been vegan for about five years when they had their first child, and some asked whether they were going to raise their children vegan, too. “I thought that was interesting because I chose a vegan diet for myself after researching and experiencing the health benefits of eating this way. Of course I would want to give our children those same health benefits!”

While Burton’s family and friends eventually understood this was a life choice, not a phase – in fact, one of her friends, along with her three children, later became vegan – she did face opposition from some health professionals. “There were a couple of times after doctor visits that I had a good cry in the car on the drive home. That was difficult, because intellectually and spiritually I knew I was doing the right thing – but when a health professional asks challenging questions, it is almost impossible not to feel emotional. I didn’t have any support with an online community or other vegan parenting groups or mentors at the time. So every time I felt insecure, I would revisit my research.”

Photo by Shutterstock_KaterynaBibro

Her girls ate the whole foods that she and her husband ate. Burton recalls that her daughters’ favorite foods when they were infants included sweet potatoes, peas, homemade pancakes, beans, corn, cooked pasta, pieces of tofu, fruits (like melons, berries and bananas), potatoes and homemade baked goods.

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