Healthy Vegan Kids | Avocado

Let’s Answer the Big Question: Is a Vegan Diet Healthy for Kids?

Do you find yourself questioning whether a vegan diet really is the healthiest for your kids? I get it. In fact, I was so confused about whether a vegan diet was really healthy for my kids that I actually went back to uni to study nutrition! Yep! Really! So I totally get how overwhelming all the info out there can be! You google vegan diets for kids, and you’re hit with everything from “vegan diets are great” to “a child died on a vegan diet”. And, oh my goodness, don’t even get started on what the doctor says when you ask him… But you don’t have to doubt yourself anymore, or sign up for a uni course! I can tell you once and for all that a vegan diet IS healthy for kids. How do I know? Well, the national dietary guidelines of most countries around the world tell us that vegan diets are healthy for kids of all ages. Let’s take a look at what some of the major ones have to say!

So, what do the Nutritional Guidelines say about Kids and Vegan Diets?

Since I’m an Aussie, I’ll start with the Australian Nutritional Guidelines. They state that:

“Appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthy and nutritionally adequate. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the lifecycle.” (1) Note that the Australian Nutritional Guidelines class a vegan diet as a subset of vegetarian diets.

So, there’s one vote for a well planned vegan diet is healthy for kids.

Is a Vegan Diet Healthy for kids? Australian Dietary Guidelines
Australian Guide to Healthy Eating from the Australian Dietary Guidelines (1)

The Australian Dietary Guide also includes vegan options in all of their food groups, so you can easily follow the food groups on a vegan diet.

Let’s look next at the UK

The UK specifically talk about kids on a vegan diet. The Eat Well guidelines state that:

“Babies and young children on a vegetarian or vegan diet can get the energy and most of the nutrients they need to grow and develop from a well-planned varied and balanced diet.” (2)

The UK Eat well site even gives some great tips on how to find vegan sources of the important nutrients such as B12 (supplementation only), calcium, iron, vitamin D and omega 3 Fatty acids.

And another vote for a well planned vegan diet is healthy for kids.

Photo by Chantal Garnier on Unsplash

So, What do the US Dietary Guidelines say about a vegan diet for kids?

The US Dietary Guidelines do not specifically talk about vegan and vegetarian diets for kids. They do, however, have vegan options in all of the suggested food groups, like the Australian Guidelines (3). So it is possible to follow a vegan diet according to the US Guidelines.

Both the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Academy of Pediatrics endorse a vegan diet for children (4,5).

It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes.

So, more votes in favour for a well planned vegan diet is healthy for kids.

And Finally, What Do the Canadian Nutrition Guidelines Say About a Vegan Diets?

And lastly, let’s look at the Canadian Dietary Guidelines (6). You actually might have heard about these if you’re in any vegan groups. There was a lot of talk after they were released because they’re the first dietary guidelines to drop dairy as a food group. They also specifically talk about opting for plant based proteins (so beans, lentils, tofu, nuts and seeds) over animal ones. So it is definitely possible to follow these guidelines on a vegan diet!

Is a Vegan Diet Healthy for Kids? | The Canadian Dietary Guidelines
Canada’s Food Guide (6)

So there’s yet another vote in favour for a well planned vegan diet is healthy for kids.

A Well Planned Vegan Diet is Healthy for Children

So as you can see, a well planned vegan diet is healthy for kids of all ages. If you’re wondering what they mean by “well planned” my Essential Nutrients for Vegan Kids Guide gives you all the information on the nutrients and supplements that you need to focus on for healthy vegan kids. It also contains an easy print version of the information on this page to take to your next doctor’s appointment! Have it sent straight to your inbox below!

1. Australian Dietary Guidelines, 2013, p35

2. The Eatwell Guide: Vegetarian and vegan babies and children, 2019

3. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

4. Melina V, Craig W, Levin S. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016;116(12):1970-1980. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2016.09.025

5. Moilanen BC. Vegan diets in infants, children, and adolescents. Pediatr Rev. 2004;25(5):174-176. doi:10.1542/pir.25-5-174

6. Canada’s Food Guide, 2020

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *