Have you ever pondered the idea of raising your kids on a plant-based diet, but held off because you were unsure if it was the healthiest choice? Or maybe you’ve had some doubts about mealtime becoming even more complicated if you make the switch. It can seem overwhelming, but there are plenty of benefits from a plant-based lifestyle and even choosing plant-based snacks for your kids, and how convenient it can be.
What is a plant-based diet?
Following plant-based eating means to focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans.
A plant-based diet also means feeding your kids foods that are as natural as possible and aren’t over-processed. Simply because a food does not contain meat or animal products does not make it ideal for a plant-based diet; it’s all about being mindful of where your little one’s food is sourced and making sure it gets from the farm to your kitchen table in a sustainable way.
Why choose a plant-based diet for your kids?
There are many benefits to leading a plant-based diet including reduced body weight and blood pressure, as well as lower risk of diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. A plant-based diet also promotes better health due to its positive influence on gut microbiota, which is the bacteria that lives in our gut. A plant-based diet is also higher in fibre and consists of a more diverse range of plant-based foods, which is why this diet is so beneficial for our gut bacteria, therefore reducing inflammation and risk of diseases.
Raising your kids on a plant-based diet not only has many nutritional benefits but can also have a positive impact on the environment. According to the World Health Organization, by decreasing the amount of meat and dairy products we consume in our diet, and hence the number of livestock herds that exist, the closer we’ll be to preventing climate change. The less livestock we require means smaller amounts of water and land needed to sustain them, as well as lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions caused by livestock that will be released. By simply switching most of your family’s meals to be plant-based, you can directly have a positive impact on the environment, which is a beautiful thing to teach your kids as they grow up.
Tips for following a plant-based diet with your kids
We understand that switching to a plant-based diet can be daunting, especially when it comes to your little ones, which is why we’ve put together our top 3 tips to make this lifestyle switch easier.
- Introduce plant-based meals gradually
As with any lifestyle change for your kids, it’s critical to implement a plant-based diet slowly over time. This could look like initially removing meat from 1-2 meals per week or switching dessert to fruit a few nights each week. This also includes your little ones’ favourite snacks; rather than removing them altogether, it’s better to do so slowly, and still let them enjoy their usual treats every now and then. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to live a plant-based lifestyle, it’s all about finding what works for your family and your children.
- Variety is Key
As with any other children’s diet, it is so important that your kids’ plant-based meals remain full of variety, featuring many different textures, colours, tastes and smells. This can be as simple as choosing a few different coloured vegetables to have with dinner or experimenting with new plant-based recipes regularly. Variety can also be found not only in your child’s main meals but in their snacks throughout the day. Try purchasing different fruits each week at the supermarket or researching some fun snacks for them, with varying textures.
- Find Convenient, Plant-Based Snacks
Finding convenient, healthy plant-based snacks makes all the difference between an easy switch, and a more difficult one. When you have good snack options on hand that are just as delicious as your kids’ usual treats, leading a plant-based lifestyle becomes that much more convenient. We recommend looking at what snacks your child typically eats and researching some plant-based alternatives. Whole Kids has a wide range of plant-based snacks that offer great alternatives and staples, which you can explore here.
Although switching your little ones to a plant-based diet can seem overwhelming at first, there are many benefits in doing so. And with convenient and healthy plant-based snacks available to help you along the journey, making the switch has never been easier or more accessible.