A recent CBC report called Breast milk in, cow’s milk out: Vegan diet can be healthy for children, discusses how a vegan diet can be healthy for children.
According to the report, a pediatrician at the University of Saskatchewan says she’s never seen health issues arise for a vegetarian or vegan child because of what they eat, or don’t eat.
Dr. Ayisha Kurji, a pediatrician with the college of medicine in Saskatoon, said: “If it’s done properly and if you meet all your nutritional requirements, then it can absolutely be a very healthy way for a child to grow and develop normally.”
The doctor added that there can be pros and cons – as with any other diet – especially if the child is a fussy eater.
She said: “When you’re going through picky phases and you’re already limited in terms of choices, you certainly can end up in a situation where kids won’t take things.
“Whereas with an adult, you can say ‘Here is a list of things you need to eat. You go and eat them’.”
Dr. Kurji talked about dairy – saying it is not necessary for a child’s development.
In fact, she said, she is often concerned when children drink lots of milk as it has no iron. The calories can fill them up, not leaving room for iron-rich foods.
She said: “Then they don’t eat enough iron-rich foods and they end up with low iron which causes low hemoglobin. It’s one of the most common things we see in pediatrics.”
According to Kurji, plant protein sources ‘aren’t as easily digestible as meat’, so she recommends more is eaten to reach the required amount.
However, the doctor added that vegans ‘tend to eat more healthy fats and vegetables than the average person’. In addition, because plant-based fast food is less available, vegans tend to eat less of it.
Dr Kurji added: “Having said that, you can also follow a diet that includes meat and have all those pros.”