Why raise plant-based kids? Every family has a different set of reasons, and there’s no right answer. Here are some of them.
You may have seen our recent post explaining what we mean when we say predominantly plant-based and why this approach works so well for our families. But you may also be wondering why so many families are choosing to adopt a plant-based lifestyle, to begin with.
The plant-based movement has been around for a long time, but only in the last decade or so has it become more normalized and mainstream. The standard grocery store has countless plant-based alternatives to meat, dairy, and eggs. It’s easier now than ever before to go plant-based, let alone raise children who eat this way.
Most people adopt a plant-based diet for one of a few reasons, which may evolve over time. There’s no right or wrong reason behind doing so, and we celebrate every time we hear from a family wanting to put more plants on the plate.
For those curious, this week, we want to highlight some of the main reasons many families are adopting plant-based patterns and provide some resources for getting started.
Note that pointing these reasons out is not meant to be divisive or for comparison, but simply to shed light on why many households are shifting toward a plant-based lifestyle today.
1. To Support Their Health
Whole plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes, are the most nutritious foods on the planet. They provide an array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, unsaturated fats, protein, and carbohydrates. They are also the only source of fiber.
Furthermore, studies like the 2019 VeChi Diet Study and the 2021 VeChi Youth Study have found that vegan and vegetarian diets for kids can provide the same energy and macronutrients, leading to normal growth, as an omnivorous diet. In other words, the diet quality and health of plant-based kids in these studies were very good. Read more about this specific research in this post.
Does your child need to be vegan to reap these health benefits? No. Overall, there’s not enough science to definitively say that a fully vegan versus vegetarian diet is better for health. That’s why we advocate for a predominantly plant-based diet that meets the personalized needs and preferences of your family.
All we know is that a diet founded mostly on whole plant foods, that minimizes animal products and ultra-processed, nutrient-poor items, is substantially better for our health than the standard western diet pattern, which is high in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar.
2. To Advocate for Animal Welfare
There’s no way to sugarcoat the lack of compassion in large-scale modern animal agriculture. Today’s industrial animal farms leave little room for animals to live, significantly shorten their natural lifespans, and subject them to inhumane treatments during the time they are alive. Most of us are spared from seeing any part of this process firsthand, and only the end products at the grocery store.
Many families decide to go plant-based because this method of raising food animals doesn’t align with their values.
3. To Do Their Part for the Planet
Plant foods require substantially fewer natural resources to grow than animal products. Industrial animal agriculture is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases like methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide. This contributes to global warming and climate change.
Animal agriculture is also a major driver of Amazonian deforestation, making it a key player in biodiversity loss. Furthermore, the agricultural runoff from industrial farms promotes the development of ocean dead zones, areas in the ocean where there is no longer enough oxygen for life to exist.
4. They Just Like It Better
This is a perfectly acceptable reason, too! Sometimes there may not be a deep-seated reason for going plant-based at first, and that’s okay.
Many babies experience lactose intolerance or are uninterested in touching meat and eggs, which can be the initial reason parents make a shift toward a plant-based menu together. When this happens, perhaps they don’t miss those products and learn how much they prefer eating a plant-based diet.
Plus, many plant-based eaters got started out of curiosity. Learning more about why people make the switch in the first place, and then figuring out how to replace certain animal foods with plant ones, can be very fulfilling.
How to Get Started
If you’re considering raising a predominantly plant-based family, you’re in the right place. We believe doing so is a great gift, and we want to support you on that journey – whatever it looks like for your household.
Here are some helpful tools we’ve created for raising plant-based families:
- The PB3 Plate for Plant-Based Kids – Our printable version of ‘MyPlate’ for plant-based kids, complete with examples, explanations, and recommendations.
- Plant Based Juniors Supplement Guide – Our free downloadable guide for supplementing plant-based kids, including their importance, dosage recommendations, and our favorite brands.
- Predominantly Plant-Based Pregnancy Guide – Plant-based and pregnant? No problem. Everything you need to know to thrive with evidence-based advice, plus symptom management and tasty recipes.
- The Plant-Based Baby and Toddler – Our latest book on how to fill babies’ and toddlers’ plates with foods to support optimal nutrition right from the start.
- Recipes – We’ve got plenty of recipes ready for you to try on our blog, like our PBJ Balls, High-Calorie Smoothies, Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes, and White Bean Alfredo Pasta.
- Grocery Lists – Find plant-based shopping lists for places like Costco, Sprouts, and ALDI.
There’s No Wrong Reason
Remember that there is no right or wrong reason to move toward getting more plants on your family’s plates. If you don’t resonate strongly with any of the reasons above, that’s okay! Whether you want to be fully vegan and advocate for animals, start with Meatless Mondays for health purposes, or are just interested in what eating more plants may have to offer, we’re here to support you.
Chime In: What made your family curious about plant-based eating? What does this look like for your household?
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