3 Myths about Raising Vegan

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.

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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! 

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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!  


Veganism Made Easy

Just as there are many reasons to live a vegan lifestyle, there are many ways to obtain this lifestyle.  Some people may be needing an immediate health-correct, in which case, switching to a whole foods plant-based diet would be indicated.  Others may also want the health benefits, but are not facing an imminent health crisis and can make the transition to a whole foods plant-based diet more gradually.  Based on Veganuary.com, the motivation for many people to become vegan is multifactorial: wanting to stop animal cruelty, lower the environmental impact of their diet choices, and improve their health.   I mention these scenarios as a preface to me proposing stages of veganism.  Hear me out.

For those who have been raised on meat and dairy products, the thought of quitting those foods up may be hard.  It may even seem impossible.  Despite knowing that the evidence and science supports their decision, it can be an internal struggle of self-doubt.  Many are faced with loved ones questioning their decision while being surrounded by ads for enticing meat and dairy products.  They many experience fear of cravings or failure.

This is why I am proposing stages.  Initially, when transitioning to a vegan diet, I recommend utilizing the vast array of products designed to mimic meat and dairy.  The food science has exponentially grown over the past 10 years.  Now you can find vegan burger patties that are juicy and sizzle in the pan (i.e. Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger).  You can find vegan cheeses that slice, dice, and melt, just like the real thing, but without the terrifying hormones and saturated fats.  The use of these items helps quiet the cravings and helps the initial feel of isolation from your omnivore loved ones.  Bring the Beyond Meat patties to a BBQ or offer a dairy-free cheese spread at your next party.  These are nice, easy ways to step into the vegan lifestyle.  The key is to incorporate these meat and dairy substitutes into a well rounded vegan diet, which is comprised of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and beans.

round logo Raising Vegan Tip- Beware of products packaged as dairy-free or lactose-free but are not actually vegan.  How is this possible?  Casein.  Casein is a milk protein that slips into seemingly healthy products but it is in fact milk.  Go Veggie is one brand that comes to mind that offers lactose-free (NOT vegan) and vegan products.  Be sure to ALWAYS read the ingredients.  


Stage 1 Meat Substitutes Dairy Alternatives
Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains, and Beans, Supplemented with Processed Foods Gardein, Quorn*, Beyond Meat, Carla Lee’s Nut, Tofurky, Field Roast, Morning Star*, Lightlife Chao Creamery, Silk, Follow Your Heart, Go Veggie*, Just Mayo, Trader Joe’s Vegan Mozarella, Tofutti, Daiya, So Delicious, Miyoko’s
Stage 2
Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains, and Beans, Supplemented with LESS Processed Foods Upton’s Naturals, Sweet Earth Natural Foods, Trader Joe’s 3-grain tempeh Some from above, nutritional yeast, nut cheeses
Stage 3
Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains, and Beans, Supplemented with FEW to NO Processed Foods Tofu, Seitan, Tempeh, Miso paste, Mushrooms, Jackfruit, Lentils, Beans Nutritional yeast, homemade nut cheese, tofu ricotta, etc

*Not all Brands are strictly vegan

**There are more brands than shown here.


It is amazing to me how the senses, especially taste and smell, change with a diet change.  After just a few months of quitting meat and dairy, vegetables and fruits are more favorable.  Even plain tofu tastes good, which I commonly serve to our Little.  My husband and I were preparing a Beyond Meat burger the other day, and we were astonished by the resemblance of a beef patty.  Flashback to when we first quit meat and we would have been thrilled.  But, now the fake flesh was no longer appetizing.  The smell and the way it sizzled was also a perfect replica of a burger cooking.  Again, this would have been very enticing long ago, but now not so much.  Our bodies crave different foods and feel better when they receive what they were designed to digest.  I proudly support the mimicking fake meats, because they are great transitional foods.  There are certainly plenty of veteran vegans that also enjoy them- so well done Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger!


Do you get enough protein?

This is a common question we get from our omnivore friends and relatives.  Once one educates themselves on the protein amounts in vegetables, legumes, nuts, and grains, the question becomes laughable.  In one stalk of broccoli there is over 4 grams of protein.  One cup of almonds has the same amount of protein (20 grams) as a T-bone steak, and almonds are high in fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, vitamin B-2 (riboflavin), and so on.

So, are there any deficiencies to worry about with veganism?  Yes, one vitamin missing in a whole foods plant-based diet is vitamin B-12, also known as cobalamin.  This vitamin is crucial for the nervous system and red blood cell production.  Only bacteria can produce B-12, so unless you are eating very dirty veggies, a supplement is needed.  It is very important for pregnant or nursing women following a vegetarian or vegan diet to take a B-12 supplement this will prevent the baby from having a B-12 deficiency.

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Click on picture to purchase B-12 using an affiliate link

Not all B-12 supplements are created equally.  Vitamin B-12 supplements in pill form may be swallowed and skip the gastric acids found in saliva and the stomach.  These acids are needed to breakdown the vitamin and allow it to be absorbed by the small intestine.  With this in mind, taking antacids, such as Pepcid or Prilosec, may reduce the absorption of vitamin B-12.  I prefer to take supplements in the most bioactive form, meaning the body doesn’t need to break it down or convert it to an active form.  For cobalamin, methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin are the most bioactive forms.  Find this in a liquid form and you are in business!  Now just make sure the product is vegan.

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Raising Vegan Tip-  The  recommended amount of Vitamin B-12 is 2000-2500 mcg/week.  Taking the B-12 supplement in the morning may give you a boost of energy.

 

Affiliate Link:
VeganSafe™ B-12 is a blend of the two most bioactive forms of vitamin B-12, an essential nutrient for normal energy levels and the cardiovascular system.


Prenatal Vitamins

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The prenatal vitamin that I took religiously prior, during, and after pregnancy.

Pregnant! Now, what? Prenatal vitamins! They are critical for providing the essential nutrients that our fast growing babies use from our bodies during pregnancy.  Our pediatrician once said that the mother’s body is altruistic and will allow the growing baby to take all the needed nutrients.  Therefore, we must replenish ourselves so we can continue to aid in the healthy development of our babies.

On the store shelves or online, there are hundreds of choices for prenatal vitamins.

The top 4 things I look for in a prenatal vitamin:

  1. Quality- I prefer plant-based vitamins
  2. Vitamins! Consult with your doctor or health expert for your personal needs
  3. Once a day dosing- with morning sickness, you do not want to have to swallow 3 pills a day
  4. Vegan- of course!

Some people may not be aware that animal by-products can be found in our supplements and vitamins as gelatin.  If the vitamin is in a capsule or chewable form, then it is likely made with gelatin.  Gelatin is a protein used to hold substances together and can act as a glue.  It can be found in a long list of items, from marshmallows to photo paper.  Where does gelatin come from?  Sadly, bones.  To avoid bones in your vitamins look for the  or “Vegan” declared on the bottle/package.  When in doubt scan the ingredients and don’t forget to read the inactive ingredients!

Click this affiliate link to purchase Rainbow Light – Prenatal One Multivitamin, 90 Count, Folic Acid, Probiotic, Iron

Side note regarding inactive ingredients, Brand name medications and generic medications do not have to have the same inactive ingredients.  And yes, inactive ingredients have the potential to cause unwanted side effects.  The active ingredients can also vary to some extent.  The FDA requires that blood concentrations of the brand and generic drug are within a 6% variance.  So, it is good to know what is in your medications and how well your body tolerates them.

Another buzz word to look for when shopping for supplements is carrageenan.  When shopping for my daughter’s pain relief OTC medication (teething time), I was horrified to find carrageenan as an inactive ingredient in various liquid acetaminophen formulas.  FYI, Infant Tylenol grape flavor is carrageenan-free (at least the last time I purchased it).  To learn more about this complicated substance, check out the dedicated post “Carrageenan”-coming soon!