‘We raise our child vegan, but is this possible?’

“During my pregnancy, the most frequently asked question to us was: are we going to raise our child vegan? Not surprising that our environment was curious about this. I’ve been vegan for years, but my boyfriend isn’t. How are we going to do this with our daughter? And is it feasible to raise her 100 percent vegan?

More than seven years ago I made the choice to become vegan. For a clear reason: for the animals. Cats, pigs, chickens and dogs: for me there is no difference. Why is one animal a pet and why is another animal used for factory farming? By asking myself this question, it was a logical step to stop consuming animal products. It’s a lifestyle with an important belief that I’m not moving away from.

The right vitamins and nutrients

Since my pregnancy I have been working on this subject a lot: how can I let our child grow up in a healthy way with plant-based food? Fortunately, my friend is positive about this. As long as it is responsible and she gets the right vitamins and nutrients, there is no problem.

Our daughter is now 16 months old. The days of full breastfeeding and pureed fruit and vegetable snacks are over. We are ready for her to eat (partly) with us. At home it is plant-based with sometimes a side trip to vegetarian. It is important that she does not develop allergies, such as an egg allergy. So if my friend makes scrambled eggs, she gets that too.

Health first

Her health is paramount and I would never do anything irresponsible. That’s why I thought it was important to visit a pediatric dietitian. She was impressed with our approach. For example, we give her vitamin D2 and Omega3 fatty acids (derived from algae), she gets B12 through my breast milk and we provide a varied diet. The Nutrition Center also indicates that it is possible to raise a child vegan. It is and remains important that you make sure that your child receives all the necessary nutrients. Because children are growing, you want to prevent shortages.

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, 53,000 people in the Netherlands eat completely plant-based. It is unknown how many children are involved. The last measurement is from 2020, so this is not completely accurate. Almost half of the Dutch population is flexitarian, which means that they eat less meat four days a week. The main reason to cut down? Animal Welfare!

Vegan at the nursery

Outside the door I’m less strict when it comes to plant-based food. The world is (unfortunately) anything but vegan, as the figures show and it can therefore not be avoided completely. An example: during the intake of her daycare we were told that vegan was no problem. In practice this is disappointing. I have discussed this several times without the desired result. As a mom you already have enough headaches and that’s why I let this go. She eats vegetarian there three days a week. Another example is that we don’t want to ban her from certain foods, should she be curious about them in the future. Only, I’m going to tell you honestly where the food comes from. Why do cows always give milk? What happens to roosters that don’t lay eggs?

My wish for the future is that better information is provided in schools about where our food comes from. I also hope that healthy, plant-based food will become the norm in public places, such as nurseries, schools and sports clubs. This is not only important to prevent animal suffering, but also for the climate and for the health of our children.”

Dilemma: ‘Shall I raise my child vegan or not?’

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