Babies and children can get all the nutrients they need from a vegan diet. However, whether they are vegans, vegetarians, or meat-eaters, the impact of poor nutrition is magnified in children’s growing bodies and minds, so it is important to take special care.

If you are a non-vegan concerned about a vegan baby or child you know, try to be specific about what concerns you: if you feel uncomfortable with the idea of a vegan parent imposing their lifestyle choice on their children, consider that feeding children a meat- and dairy-based diet is also a lifestyle choice that parents inflict on their children. Perhaps you worry that their diet lacks a particular nutrient, or that the child is underweight? Read about specific aspects of vegan nutrition under What Vegans Eat and research how vegetarians and vegans can avoid/remedy your particular nutritional concern so that you are in a position to help and support the vegan parent or carer to assess whether they need to make any adjustments to their child(ren)’s diet.

If you are a vegan parent or carer, arm yourself with good information, but keep an open mind – don’t assume that a non-vegan friend, relative or health professional who expresses concern about your child(ren)’s diet is just prejudiced against veganism… encourage them to be specific about what concerns them, remember that their worry stems from genuine concern for your child, and consider whether their specific concern might have some basis in fact. Taking action doesn’t necessarily mean eating meat! Learn the particular nutritional requirements of children at each age and stage and educate yourself about any potential pitfalls with a vegan diet, and continue to monitor your child(ren)’s food habits as they grow to ensure their nutritional needs are adequately met as they get older.

Also bear in mind that children who have not made their own choice to be vegan may be less persuaded of the need to eat foods that they dislike in the interests of good nutrition. If mealtimes get too difficult, remember that what matters most is your children’s health and well-being – and that in the long-term a more flexible approach might lead them to have a healthier relationship with food and prove a more effective influence on the food choices they will later come to make as grown-ups – there’s no point battling over beansprouts now if that risks putting them off vegan food for life!