Tending to Our Future Vegans Part 1: The Great Milk Debate!!!

Yes, vegan kids DO have more fun!!!

As promised, I wanted to share with all of you a few vegan parenting tips I have learned along the way.  I don’t consider myself to be a “granola” or “hippie” kind of mom.  I like to call my style of raising a vegan child to be “realistic”.  I long ago accepted the fact that I can’t do it all, but I know I can make veganism work for her the same way it has worked for me.  I just need to keep things simple but also make it fun for the both of us.  Before I start on this blog post, maybe I should post some legal mumbo-jumbo and tell you all that I am not a licensed pediatrician.  In fact, I never held a license in nutrition…But one thing I do as a vegan mom is that I talk to other vegan moms and I also talk to Raegan’s pediatrician before I think about doing anything.  Luckily, Raegan’s doctor is pretty vegan savvy.  He’s not a vegan himself but I like to think he’s a well read guy who knows his stuff.  People often ask me about raising my daughter as a vegan and if you thought the usual vegan questions as an adult were stupid (Where do you get your protein/calcium, etc.), the ones regarding vegan children get even dumber… *sigh*

I’ll take the milk on the left!

The first misconception is that all babies MUST drink cow’s milk as soon as they turn a year old!!!  And no one raises the milk debate to a mother with a child with a dairy allergy, but they will always openly ask a vegan parent like as if what they are doing is negligent.  Rest assured, I have been trained with this VERY common question and my answer actually comes off as kinda inspiring to a non-vegan parent.  My answer is that my milk of choice with Raegan has always been unsweetened hemp milk mixed in with a little bit of rice milk for sweetness.  Then I inform the person about how hemp milk is LOADED with Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s that you will never find naturally in cow’s milk.  I have convinced a couple of moms to ditch the pricey formula/full fat cow’s milk and to try hemp milk and the feedback I have gotten has been AWESOME!!!  There are plenty of other vegan milks out there (in case hemp is not your thing) that are safe for toddlers such as soy milk, oat milk and almond milk (Disclaimer: Almonds are one of the least likely to cause allergies out of all of the tree nuts but you should be avoid this all together if nut allergies are an issue!!!).  There are also vegan supplements available that you can mix into your child’s vegan milk to boost the DHA and EPA content of their beverage.  Needless to say, the benefits of using vegan milk more than outweigh the lack thereof in dairy.

So as you probably noticed in the title, this will be a reoccurring segment on this blog aside from all the awesome food topics I usually cover.  I have to ask to all those with children, or those who want to raise vegan children (either now or in the future!), what challenges are you most concerned about???

7 thoughts on “Tending to Our Future Vegans Part 1: The Great Milk Debate!!!

  1. My daughter is 4, plant-based (vegan) since birth. We breastfed until she was 23 months, then just switched to rice milk. I think a lot of people were "concerned" about her diet, but never said anything to me because my brother (thankfully) is a pediatrician that advocates plant-based diets to his patients and families. I have yet to discuss it with our local pediatrician (we live in North Dakota, my brother in California) because I don't see the need. Our local ped knows we use rice milk, but has never pushed for the reasoning. My daughter is rarely sick, never been on antibiotics and only has had one ear infection, last year, that cleared on its own after 2 days laying around the house. 🙂

    That all being said, the only concern I have about raising my child plant-based is society. I know she is healthier than she could ever have been if she ate the SAD. My daughter has an outgoing, confident personality so I hope that can carry her through any questions/teasing she will likely face when she starts school.

  2. I often worry about Raegan's school years as well…My only hope so far are the YouTube videos I see of vegan kids speaking up for what they believe in. On that same note, kids have a tendency to make the connection a lot easier than adults and I wonder if I will be the mom with the angry phone calls from parents yelling at me for their kid turning away their non-vegan food.

    I definitely concur on the lack of sickness…One thing I notice with the other kids she plays with is that this time of year they all get the slimy green snot coming out of their nose, while she rarely gets colds and when she does, it's clear and just runny (a lot less gross!).

  3. You're totally right about kids making the connection easier than adults. While I'm not looking forward to calls from parents, I know what we're doing is right….so if they are confident in what they are doing (which they likely aren't since they're calling) they shouldn't get that upset.

    I just need to keep focusing on teaching her tolerance and standing up for what she believes is right. It's super easy for me since my whole side of the family is plant-based….she kind of thinks it's "normal".

  4. Thank you for this post. I’m not vegan, but I eat a mostly plant-based diet. I transitioned my daughter to whole milk at one (as directed by my GP and against my intuition) and the poor thing got so sick! I’ve been searching for alternatives and I love the idea of giving her hemp/rice milk! I make my own plant-based milks at home so I’m excited for her to try some of them. I will mix in fortified store bought “milk” to ensure she gets vitamin D and calcium.

    • I’m sorry to hear about your daughter’s troubles! I will admit that I am no pediatrician, but I am a vegan mom (with a VERY supportive family doctor who is not vegan himself) and my oldest daughter is currently 2 1/2 years old and has never consumed cow’s milk and has never gotten sick off of her vegan milk alternatives. 99% of all store bought vegan milks are fortified (never seen a vegan milk that wasn’t fortified with vitamin D)just like cow’s milk and as far as calcium goes, you’ll be amazed that there are studies from PCRM.org that suggest that cow’s milk actually leeches calcium from bones. Vegans get their calcium from leafy greens, tofu, beans and broccoli and with plant based foods you get more bang for your nutritional buck. I understand that making your own plant based milks are more inexpensive but if you are concerned about your child getting all of her vitamins, maybe it is better to buy store bought vegan milks until you feel confident that she is meeting her nutritional needs (I look for deals and I find the Whole Foods 365 brand plant milks are fairly cheap!). Bear in mind that milk allergies are on the rise in children and those same children thrive without milk and a majority of them do not need much in the way of supplementation. Definitely check out http://pcrm.org/health/diets/vegdiets/vegetarian-diets-for-children-right-from-the-start for more info. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me, I am more than happy to help 🙂

      • Thank you so much for your feedback! She is loving the rice milk so far so I’m happy she is able to get her calcium and vitamin D from that. I also give her green smoothies (Kale, banana, coconut water and mango) which she loves. She’s been eating lots of greens from the get-go so I’m not worried about her lacking any nutrients. So excited about all these alternatives that I’m going to try going 100% Vegan for 30 days in November. So I very well maybe messaging you for some tips 🙂 Thanks again!

  5. Hi Robin
    I am Vidya. Basically from India, residing in USA, NJ. I learnt about veganism and its benefits about 2 years back. My son is now 4.5 yrs. I ditched dairy as an experiment to improve my son’s cold/cough/wheezing/eczema. My son got over all those issues and when I learnt more of how it can help all of us, I turned vegan.
    My husband is a wonderful and supportive person of all the things i do but not of the plant-based diet nor for veganism. He thinks I am depriving my kid of all the things I enjoyed for so long. He is not ready to discuss with me the benefits of plant based diet. His parents are not supportive either. My Mom is on plant based diet and Dad is non-vegan but supportive of my choice. With lot of non-vegan junk food and others lying around in the house, it is difficult for me to monitor my son and avoid them. Even in school, I cannot control as my son loves to eat the things that his friends eat. I tried to tell him why he should avoid donuts. He was saying everybody that he does not want to eat donut as it has eggs and that means we are killing baby birds..
    please suggest…
    how do I educate my husband and his family about the benefits of plant based diet?
    how do I educate my son to avoid the dairy and other non-vegan junk food. how do I teach my son to stand up for himself once he goes to public school (he is not going this september).

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