Vegans and vegetarians are able to get all the nutrients that need they need to survive and even thrive. Those that make the switch do so to help the environment, for ethical reasons, and also for health reasons. Many of us that eat meat regularly would benefit from reducing our consumption and replacing with plant alternatives. The biggest challenge with any form of diet that restricts a large food group like meats or animal products, is adequately replacing key nutrients. It can be done with a lot of research and trialling exactly what works for your body. However, a toddler cannot give feedback as to how they are feeling and if their diet is giving them enough of the nutrients they need to develop.
We all know how crucial the early years of a child’s life are in their development that will affect them for the rest of their lives. A vegan diet can hinder a child’s full growth potential as well as slow down their intellectual development. There have been reported cases of vegan toddlers being years behind in physical and mental development as well as obesity reports as their bodies go into starvation mode at such an early age to store calories in case they’re needed in the future.
The Australian guidelines for breastfeeding recommend exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months of age and then adding solid foods to their diet. Breastfeeding is recommended to continue until the infant is 12 months old and for even longer if the mother wishes to. There’s a misconception that vegan mothers don’t breastfeed their babies. Vegans believe that animals are not ours to use and therefore animals and animals products should not be consumed. They also believe that all mammals produce milk for the purpose of nourishing their babies, so there’s no moral contradiction in a mother breastfeeding her child.
As previously mentioned, the earlier the stage in a child’s the greater the impact it can have on the rest of the child’s life. I would not recommend for any toddler to start a vegan diet before the age of three and before commencing a dietician or paediatrician should be consulted to ensure that your child can receive all their nutrients they require on such a diet. Also they will be able to provide you with the correct information you need on what to feed your child and how to monitor their development. While the vegan diet is quickly becoming more popular, it’s important not to blindly follow influencers regardless of how much of a following they have. Social media influencers give incorrect diet and fitness advice 8 times out of 9 as it’s such a hard industry to regulate. While the diet they’re on may work for them, it may not work for everyone else, particularly toddlers.
When considering any changes to your toddlers diet that differ from the Australian guidelines, it’s important to do your research. And by research I’m referring to reading certified medical studies and consulting with health professionals. It’s important not to view the most liked social media post as the most reliable.