Healthy Kids    

A vegan diet may not be safe for kids

Cutting out all animal products requires vitamin supplements

While Dr. Herschel Lessin of the Children's Medical Group thinks a vegetarian diet is healthy for children, he’s expressed reservation about a vegan diet (one where there are no animal products – such as dairy, eggs or honey). “Lots of cultures have vegetarian diets, but very few have vegan diets – I don’t think a vegan diet is good for children. If you need to add supplements, how can you consider it healthy?” he says.

Nutritionist Ilyse Simon of Kingston believes that vegan diets can be healthy, but also has concerns, “Vegan families need to be very conscientious about nutrition – they need to make sure the child has dark, leafy greens each day for calcium and enough B12 through mother’s milk, supplements or yeast. Vegan parents need to be very intentional with their children’s diet – it’s got to be calorically dense.”

She says that one way vegan parents help ensure their children get enough calories is to use lots of nut butters in their diet, as well as to drink smoothies made with flaxseed oil and nutritional yeast. 

On the other hand, if you’re ready to make some changes to your diet, but not quite ready to become a vegetarian, you’ll be in good company, according to Simon. “Most of the world lives this way. Most cultures have a largely vegetarian lifestyle, one where meat is eaten – but there’s only a little of it in a meal.”

Sue Sanders is a mother of one living in New Paltz.