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I chose to wean my son using a variety of foods including meat, as a long time vegan myself this was a difficult choice and one which I didn’t make lightly. Ultimately the decisions you make as a Mum are personal to you and right for your child. However, I thought I’d outline here some pros and cons of both approaches which may help you come to a decision either way.
I feel personally a vegan approach to weaning is perfectly doable and healthy however it requires a lot more forward planning than traditional diets to ensure your child is still receiving all the nutrients they need.
One thing to note is that if you are unable to breastfeed your child for whatever reasons, it is not recommended to use vegan formula alternative if your baby is younger than 6 months.
Important Nutrients Most important nutrients for a growing infant are;
Although easily found in animal products, fortunately they are also readily available in plant based alternatives. Such as beans and tofu, fortified milk alternatives and cereals, flaxseed and rapeseed oils and dark green leafy vegetables such as kale.
Other Healthy Considerations As well as the correct nutrients you will also need to ensure your child is taking on board sufficient calories. The national health service warns that vegetarian and vegan diets tend to be high in fibre which may fill a child up quicker than more starchy foods or dairy products. If your child feels full too quickly they might not want to eat the calories they require to grow up happy and healthy.
Vegan Peer Pressure When you bring a child into this world, everyone and their mother will have an opinion on how to raise them, and they won't always keep these opinions to themselves (cue shocked face). Feel free to take into account the opinions of friends and family, but remember it should be your decision what is right for you and your baby. Every baby is different and every parent is different, try not to let others peoples opinions sway you away from what you believe is right. as It’s important that you feel happy and relaxed about your decisions. Getting the right nutrition is a key step toward that goal and it should never be overlooked, not just for your baby but also for yourself. Interestingly at 4 to 6 months your baby will start to notice you eating, so healthy eating could pave the way for them to eat nutritiously when they are older.
My Final Thoughts So if all this is sounding simple enough to you, you may want to know what I consider to be the cons of raising a vegan child. It was partly about choice, I chose at around 12 to become a vegetarian because I loved animals. I was old enough to understand where meat came from and I didn’t agree with it. I will make sure my son understands this too when he is old enough and leave it to him to decide. In the same respects you have to remember that if you decide to raise your child as a vegan there is no guarantee that once they are old enough to decide for themselves that they won’t want to try meat or animal products. I personally don’t believe as parents we should limit this freedom of choice.
Raising a vegan child may be right for you if they can eat a version of what you eat as long as your diet is well balanced. For myself however, I didn't feel this was the right choice, some may think I took the easy route and perhaps I have, but at the end of the day i'm only doing what I think is best for my individual child and you should do the same.