Is Veganism Appropriate For Children?

If you’re pregnant, have a young child, are planning a family, or just want to switch your family to a plant-based diet, one thing on your mind is probably whether a vegan diet is suitable for children. Well, fortunately the answer is—absolutely!

In fact, a vegan diet for children is supported by health organisations around the world, including the world’s largest organization of nutritional professionals, the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the NHS in the UK, and the First Steps Nutrition Trust—an independent public health nutrition charity that provides information and resources to support eating well from pre-conception to five years. The trust states:

“It is perfectly possible for infants and children to get all the nutrition they need from a vegetable-based diet.”

Meanwhile, the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that well-planned plant-based diets are: “Appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes.”

As with any diet, especially for young children, careful planning is of course required. But this applies to everyone, whether vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, or other. And overall a vegan diet has been heralded by the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as “healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”

So, parents can be safe in the knowledge that leaving animal products off their children’s plates is a healthy option, especially when compared to diets high in processed meat such as bacon, ham, burgers, nuggets, and sausages. In fact, in 2015 The World Health Organization announced they had sufficient evidence to classify processed meat as carcinogenic to humans, while plant-based diets have been shown to reduce the likelihood of conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Eat A Balanced Vegan Diet

As with all diets, parents should ensure vegan children receive a variety of foods including sources of protein, calcium, vitamin B12, iron, and omega 3. All of these nutrients are possible to obtain on a plant-based diet. We’ve outlined some of the key foods that can help to ensure these dietary needs are met:


  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Chickpeas and products made from them, such as hummus
  • Soy and products made from them including tofu and soy mince
  • Quinoa
  • Seeds
  • Nut butters (do not feed whole nuts to children under five as they are a choking hazard)


  • Dark green vegetables
  • Wholegrains including brown rice and wholemeal bread
  • Beans and lentils
  • Dried fruits such as prunes, figs, and apricots
  • Fortified cereals and plant milks


  • Fortified foods such as plant milks
  • Tofu (if it was set using calcium)
  • Pulses
  • Tahini (also used to make hummus)
  • Figs
  • Ground almonds
  • Seeds
  • Leafy vegetables

Vitamin B12

From fortified foods including:

  • Soy and plant-based yogurts
  • Non-dairy milks, including oat, coconut, almond and soy
  • Yeast extract
  • Nutritional yeast flakes

Omega 3

  • Flaxseeds (otherwise known as linseed) and flaxseed oil
  • Walnuts or walnut butter (for children under five; whole nuts can be served to older children)
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Soy oil
  • Soya based foods, such as tofu

Vegan Children and Calories

Growing children need a high-calorie diet, as they burn a lot of energy. Therefore, it is recommended to offer foods which contain ample healthy fats. Options such as avocado, hummus, and nut and seed butters are a fantastic way of ensuring your child eats calorie- and nutrient-dense foods. Snacks such as apple slices spread with peanut butter, or rice cakes spread with hummus are often firm favorites.

Feeding children lots of food that is high in fiber but low in fat is not recommended as too much fiber can make little stomachs feel full quickly. And feeding children smaller but more frequent meals and snacks can help to ensure they consume more calories throughout the day. If you are worrying about calorie intake, meals can be cooked in oil to add extra calories or drizzled on pizza, veggies, or salads.

Vitamin supplements can also be offered to children, and the UK’s Department of Health recommends that all children age six months to five years are given vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D every day. It is also recommended that breastfed babies in the UK are given a vitamin D supplement from birth.

Life Lessons for Vegan Children

Many parents worry they could be taking away a child’s choice to eat animal products by feeding them a plant-based diet, but that works the other way round, too. When we feed them meat, eggs and dairy from animals, we are making a decision for them that they may not make for themselves. After all, most children love animals and they believe that farmed animals should be treated the same as people—with kindness and respect.

When we talk to our children about the impact of the foods we eat, we can see just how compassionate they are. We see they have a sense of justice and fairness, that they care about others, and wish to cause no harm. When we eat a plant-based diet, we are living those very principles, and encouraging our children to live them, too.


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