Vegan diet | Food and Cooking

Plant-based foods tend be low in calories. A child‘s caloric needs depend on age, size and activity level.

Consider food sources for these key minerals and vitamins:

Calcium is important, especially for bone health. Dairy is the easiest source of calcium, but there are other ways to get it, including foods like kale, bok choy and broccoli. Many “alterna-milks” such as soy milk and almond milk are fortified with calcium (and vitamin D), as are some brands of orange juice.

Iron is important to keep our blood and our bodies healthy and strong. Fortified cereals and some other plant products have iron, but it’s not a bad idea to give your child a multivitamin with iron.

This is another crucial nutrient that can be harder to get on a plant-based diet. While vegans can get it from soy beverages and fortified cereals, it’s another reason a multivitamin is a good idea.

While the main source of vitamin D is sunshine (really), most of us don’t spend enough time in the sun to get enough of it, and need to get it from our diet. If a child isn’t going to get it from fortified dairy products, then a supplement is the way to go. For younger children, the 400 IU that is present in most multivitamins is enough; older children may need more. Talk to your doctor about what is best for your child.

This is one thing that vegan diets may actually have too much of, given that plants have a lot of fiber. The most common problem with getting too much fiber is that it can fill you up, making it harder to get enough of the calories and other nutrients you need. Giving children some refined grains like cereals can help, as can giving peeled fruits and cooked vegetables rather than raw.

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