Raising Animal Friendly Children (followed by a list of resources on the topic)

May 2018 UPDATE: NEW LINK to a new version of this:

There was an interesting article published on ABC/Radio National (Australia) on Saturday 6/12/2014: Is a vegan diet healthy for children?

“Raising children on a vegan diet has been criticised as misguided and even dangerous, but advocates argue it’s both a compassionate and healthy lifestyle choice. Maria Tickle meets some vegan-by-choice children to ask how they feel about the decision. (Read More)”

First, I am not criticising the mother but I think it is unfortunate that she is a naturopath as it reinforces the stereotype that animalists are into “natural” things and that she will be seen as less credible for it. But this is not the topic here.

I understand that raising animal friendly children from birth is a contentious issue and I think it is always going to be one — at least for as long as it doesn’t become commonplace. Already, without even worrying about making ethical choices, plenty of families are failing at providing their children with a balanced diet. As such, offering a much more restrictive diet that requires at least a little understanding of nutrition seems a long and perilous shot.
A significant part of the population heavily relies on a very simple (and sometimes unhealthy) diet they perceive as cheap and easy. In my opinion, omnipresent advertisement for junk food and sugary food mixed with a lack of a public large scale, decent food education is a recipe for disaster.
In this context, promoting a diet that excludes plenty of protein and vitamin rich food items can easily be seen as dangerous and extreme. I think it’s understandable.

Of course, the thing is that if you are animal friendly, it means you end up eating more fresh products, more fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts and less unhealthy food. It also means, or at least it should mean that you have done a little bit of research about it, and that you are making more of an effort than the average joe to come up with balanced meals. As a result, it is my opinion that animal friendly families are far more likely to be healthy and thriving.

Still, it is true that “vegans” have to take supplements or eat fortified food (for B12 it is a must, but it is sometimes recommended for Omega 3 as well, for instance). This is seen as a proof that it’s wrong and dangerous, even if we think we are being careful. Of course it is non-sense as it is easy and cheap to take these animal friendly supplements or simply to eat fortified products such as soy milks, cereals or fruit juices. And meat eaters do it too! The meat they eat may have been fortified by pumping supplements into the animals who are bred and slaughtered in factory farms.

Water and/or salt are usually fortified to help populations get enough iodine or fluoride. Supplementation is normal. The problem for us is that a veg diet is not normal just yet, so we have to rely on a slightly different supplementation (b12).

In a society where animal friendly diets have become mainstream, “vegan” specific supplements/food additives will also have become mainstream. In the meantime it isn’t rocket science to choose fortified food or take one tablet a day or one tablet a week.

It’s a matter of choice.

Many diets aren’t without significant risks (increased risks of certain cancers, obesity, cholesterol), and I am talking about your average meat eating diets here, with the considerable negative consequences on the environment and the mistreatment and slaughtering of large numbers of sentient animals.
Accepting B12 enriched products (and potentially Vit D, omega 3, zinc and iron if needed) the same way enriched products are already being accepted (milk, breakfast cereals, juices,…) is not far fetched. Let’s hope the future is animal friendly.

Everyone is welcome to care about animals and small steps matter: the most potent easy one step everyone can take is to stop eating chicken — find out more at One Step For Animals!

Note: the above picture is meant to be humorous!

Note: the ABC/RN article says that Dietitians Association of Australia doesn’t recommend a “vegan” diet for children in the first years of life. Well, judging from the information on their website, it’s a misleading statement: http://daa.asn.au/for-the-public/smart-eating-for-you/nutrition-a-z/vegetarian-diets/

Science Based Resources

Educational Resources

Good articles on animal friendly children

Meal ideas and recipes