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Tips for a Vegan Lifestyle

Why vegan? You might choose the plant-based lifestyle for many reasons: for the animals, for our planet, for health, or for other concerns. One thing for sure is that plant-based food production is easier on the environment: It requires dramatically less land and water, helps reduce deforestation, emits fewer greenhouse gases, and conserves resources for future generations.

Feeding Vegan Kids

Vegan kid
  1. Support kids' higher caloric needs with foods like avocado, seed and nut butters, and by adding a little vegetable oil to cooked grains.
  2. Ensure adequate omega-3 intake for brain and vision development by using more soy bean or roasted walnut oil in recipes.
  3. Support their energy and protein needs with nutritious pulses (lentils, mung beans, and chickpeas).
  4. Ensure kids' vitamin B intake with low-salt yeast and non-dairy milks that are fortified with vitamin B12.
  5. Boost their iron and calcium intake with black molasses and green vegetables for healthy red blood cells and strong bones.
  6. Make sure kids get outside into the sunshine regularly, so they get enough vitamin D. Otherwise (especially in wintertime), consider vegan vitamin D-2 supplements.
  7. Make kid-friendly taste a priority! For example, try blending green veggies into a tomato-based pasta sauce if your child isn't keen on them.
  8. Help kids (and everyone else in the family) digest vegan foods more easily. For example, soak pulses and beans before cooking.

Feeding Vegan Teens

Vegan kid
  1. Stock up on tasty vegan grab-and-go snacks that don't require much prep: trail mix, pizza, hummus wraps, fortified plant milks and juices, seasoned baked tofu.
  2. Rather than create a separate, special meal for your vegan eater, add vegan twists on your usual favorites. For example, serve bean burritos with a variety of toppings, including vegan shredded cheese and guacamole.
  3. Keep an eye on key nutrients. Vegetables, fats, and legumes will supply your teen's body with most nutrients, but there are exceptions. Try to pay particular attention to nutrient-dense food combinations. Consider supplements for infrequently eaten nutrients, such as the omega-3s DHA and EPA, B-12, vitamin D, and iron. True B-12 is found almost exclusively in animal foods, so vegans often need supplements or to eat foods fortified with this essential nutrient to maintain a healthy nervous system and energy level.
  4. Pay attention to iodine. Omnivores receive most of their iodine, essential for thyroid health, from dairy or iodized salt. Dash small amounts of iodized salt over food or consider an iodine supplement.
  5. For best absorption, combine plant-based iron with vitamin C. Iron from plants isn't as well-absorbed as that from meat sources; adding a source of vitamin C to iron-rich recipes makes both nutrients more available to the body. For example, add tomatoes to bean soup, or sauté spinach with a splash of orange juice.

Eating Out When Vegan

Vegan kid
  1. When you're invited to a party, offer to bring vegan versions of party foods. You won't feel left out, and others might enjoy trying something new.
  2. Don't forget to specify your dietary needs when you book flights or tours. Consider taking food—or at least snacks—with you, in case your vegan meal doesn't materialize or isn't very substantial. Watch for non-vegan extras, such as margarine or coffee creamer, that can appear as side items.

Ask Questions in Restaurants

Vegan kid
When you're ordering food in a restaurant that doesn't cater exclusively to vegans, asking questions when you order is important—and can sometimes be even more appetizing:
  • Does the soup use meat, chicken, or vegetable stock?
  • Are the beans cooked with pork or another meat?
  • What kind of oil is used for frying?
  • Does the bread contain dairy or is it glazed with egg?
  • Does the pasta contain egg? Is the pasta sauce made with butter?
  • How is the salad dressing made?
  • Do the veggie burgers contain egg?
Get more tips from A Vegan Guide to Dining Out at Vegan.com
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, sure, or prevent any disease.