Are you Curious about Transitioning your Child to a Plant-Based Diet?
Parents who are plant-based curious have many of the same questions. Is a plant-based diet going to meet my growing family’s nutritional requirements? If so, how will I get my kids to eat these foods, and avoid the dinner time struggle?
Going against social norms can host it’s set of challenges. Anytime we try something new, our lack of experience doesn’t exactly foster confidence. Having someone in your life who can provide guidance and serve as a source of inspiration can make the difference between being successful or not. So find someone who can help coach you along, it’s always good to have a cheerleader in your corner! Some of my favourites are: Can I Eat At River’s?, Erin Ireland and Dr. Reed Mangles
Here are some of the common challenges and solutions families going plant-based face:
Information and Resources
Canada’s Food Guide now recommends people eat a primarily plant-based diet. Additionally, dieticians of Canada state a well-balanced plant-based diet is safe for any stage of life. This is fantastic, but not a lot of people are out there showing you how to clearly execute it for children or during pregnancy. This is why we wrote the Can I Eat At River’s? Cookbook: to serve as a guide for parents so they can feel confident they are meeting their children’s nutritional requirements. The cookbook will help you eliminate hours on the internet researching!
Find In-person Support
As I mentioned above, finding someone who can serve as a mentor for raising healthy plant-based children is a huge help!. Whether it is someone you know personally or someone you can follow on the internet, they can help you get started until you feel more confident. Additionally, they can provide emotional support when you encounter the misinformed opinions of others as it can be quite frustrating at times!
While the people near and dear to us may have the best intentions, most of the time they are not well educated in the areas of health and nutrition. Also, they might consider the dietary changes to be a fad and not take your new lifestyle choices seriously. My biggest piece of advice if someone doesn’t have experience or specific knowledge in a certain field, don’t let their opinions influence yours, stand strong!
Reprograming Those Taste Buds
Allowing your child’s taste buds to adjust to new flavours and textures might time some time in the beginning. There is no question full-fat milk is very different when compared to plant-based milk. Start the introduction slowly by cutting their regular milk with plant-based milk to allow for an adjustment phase.
Introducing New Food
When introducing new foods into your family's meal plans it might take time before your child will accept them. The biggest thing to remember as parents is that it can take up to 10 taste test before he/she will accept a new food. You just have to stay persistent and keep offering them to your child. You can try hiding things in smoothies or preparing them in different ways. Mashed vs roasted vegetables.
Be prepared when you are out! You need to have vegan-friendly snacks on hand. When someone tries to offer River something to eat and I didn’t feel like having the “oh we don’t eat that conversation,” I just flat out lie and say “oh thank you, but he is allergic.” This was way easier than getting into the whole “we’re vegan” conversation with someone I didn’t know. Most of the time it went something like “sorry but we’re vegan” and I would watch their head explode. “You mean you don’t eat meat, what about fish? You must eat fish, what no, what about eggs?” You just have to roll with it sometimes.
Accessibility to Vegan Options
Depending on where you live, some places are better than others and have more vegan-friendly options readily available. Just be prepared or know places nearby that have good vegan options or pack snacks.
It’s like anything, the more you do it, the easier it gets! Surround yourself and connect with like-minded people. They can be a wonderful support and lift you up when your struggling.