Common Myth #1
Vegan children will have stunted growth. False! According to a 1991 study, performed in Southern California assessing over 1700 children, vegetarian children were actually on average taller (by roughly 1 inch) than those raised on meat and dairy. These children were also leaner. The meat consuming children had an increased risk of obesity.
Source: “Attained height of lacto-ovo vegetarian children and adolescents.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010 May; 91(5):1525S-1529S.
Common Myth #2
Vegans are protein deficient. False. The protein requirements are not different based on the type of diet a child consumes. Complete proteins are found in plants. In a single cup of almonds you will find 20 grams of protein! That’s the same amount as a T-bone steak, but without the high cholesterol, fat, sodium, and so on. The reality is people don’t suffer from protein deficiencies. FIBER deficiency? Yes! So instead of worrying about the type or amount of protein, people should focus on their fiber intake. The same goes for our children.
Raising Vegan Tip- Think about this- Gorillas, Elephants, and Rhinos all eat plant-based diets and they are some of the strongest in the Animal Kingdom. PROTEINS COME FROM PLANTS!
Common Myth #3
Vegan children are overall malnourished or unhealthy. False. The health consequences of a child eating a Standard American Diet (SAD), which contains meat, eggs, and dairy is scary.
Obesity. Sadly, childhood obesity has increased by 100% in the US, as stated in Dr. Greger’s book How Not To Die. He also mentions that research shows that 75-80% of obese children will continue to be obese as adults. Childhood obesity also correlates with an increase risk of diseases (gout, colorectal cancer, arthritis) and death.
A study in 1989 showed that over 50% of children at the young age of 14 had early stages of atherosclerosis (plaque within arteries or blood vessels). 1989! We had this information 30 years ago.
“Evolution and progression of atherosclerotic lesions in coronary arteries in children and young adults.” Korean Circulation Journal. 1989.
Diabetes and Prediabetes. 20 years ago Diabetes was categorized as “Adult-onset” and “Juvenile”. It was assumed that children had Type I Diabetes, but since the SAD continues and obesity in children has been on the rise, Type II Diabetes has been diagnosed among are children and can no longer be termed “Adult-onset”. The harsh reality of children diagnosed with Type II Diabetes is the increased chance of these children suffering from secondary complications, such as blindness, kidney failure, limb amputation (neuropathy), and ultimately death.
You may be wondering how veganism relates to Diabetes since Diabetes Mellitus is a condition of eating too much sugar, right? Wrong! Science shows that it is NOT the sugar intake that causes Diabetes, but rather the FAT. The fat, also known as lipids, deposits into muscle and liver tissues. This results in insulin resistance. (I’ve skipped a few boring biochemical pathways here…but if you care to dive deeper into the biochemistry feel free to listen to the lectures by Drs. Neal Barnard, Michael Greger, Michelle McMaken, or Garth Davis. These EXPERTS all do a fantastic job of summarizing Diabetes and fat intake.) When you eat animal products such as meat, eggs, or dairy you are consuming a large amount of saturated fat with each bite. Therefore, the best way to prevent Diabetes is to limit FAT intake by eating a plant-based diet.
Ready to start Raising Vegan!?! Fantastic! Vegan meal plan options are available online, but be cautious of your source. I will be posting meal plans and nutritional goals soon. In the meantime, check out one website I trust- Physicians Committee to get your meal planning going!