Many parents adopting a plant-based diet might want to help their kids follow the same lifestyle! Whether for health reasons like minimizing the risks of chronic diseases, sustainability, or simply for ethical reasons. Though a plant-based diet proves to be one of the healthiest diets for adults, is a plant-based diet really safe for kids? 

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2016, "Well-planned vegan, lacto-vegetarian, and lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets are appropriate, and they satisfy the nutrient needs and promote normal growth at all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy and lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes." (1)

However, there are two crucial parts we have to keep in mind in adopting a plant-based diet for kids. First, different ages would need different nutrition requirements, and secondly, we have to ensure they get enough vitamins and minerals that can be affected by a not well-planned plant-based diet. It is also essential to start thinking about nutrition for kids very early, even during pregnancy. 

The mother needs to have good, adequate nutrition to be born healthy to nurture the baby before they are born. Nutrition needs during the first, second, and third trimesters are different because the baby needs to grow more and more. In the first trimester, the mother doesn't require additional calories, but in the second trimester, they need 200 calories extra and 400 calories extra during the third trimester. (2)

That being said, we can't also focus on just calories but also their specific nutrients. For example, protein. "Recommendations of 30% to 35% more protein for 1- to 2-year-old vegans, 20% to 30% more for 2 to 6-year-olds, and 15% to 20% more for children older than six years have been suggested." (3) But there are also many more nutrients that are as important and need attention, such as iron, zinc, vitamin B-12, calcium, and vitamin D." (4)

To achieve a well-balanced plant-based diet, you need to plan their meal so they would get enough. You can incorporate hummus, tofu, well-cooked legumes, and mashed avocado "as a complimentary meal, especially during breastfeeding. (5) Using fortified cereals or other baby foods would help as well to fulfil these needs.

The key is that parents need to learn more about a well-planned plant-based diet and preparing meals for their kids. Make sure the food tastes delicious while trying to incorporate lots of colour and texture to fulfil the needs of their children, so their loved ones can grow healthy and happy.