As parents, we always want nothing but the best for our kids. We draw on the experience and knowledge of others and mix them with our own to decide what’s best for our offsprings. But how often do we look at science? Do we go through the painstaking process of keeping up to date with the latest scientific research to improve our understanding, or do we more readily accept the word of those around us? Do we consider facts, or do we give more importance to ill-founded beliefs? Studies suggest that humans are much more likely to do the latter than the former. One important topic of discussion that is deeply affected by our trust on ill-founded beliefs is nutrition for kids.
Prevalence of Dairy and Non-Vegetarian food in our diets
Right from their birth, most children in India are given milk and other dairy based products since it is commonly believed that dairy products are beneficial for one’s health, especially for the growth and development of kids. It is widely believed that a non-vegetarian, or at least a dairy supplemented, diet is essential for a child’s complete growth and development. Kids are encouraged and sometimes even forced to consume dairy products because of this notion. However, is there any scientific truth to this notion? Let’s dive deep into this query.
How did this prevalence come to be?
The reason for the prevalence of Dairy and Non-Vegetarian food is actually extremely complicated and can be best explained as an elaborate self repeating loop. We’ll explain the loop in extremely basic terms for the sake of making the process easy to understand.
The loop begins with simple yet clever marketing campaigns targeted at our trusting and simple elders. These campaigns are made to subtly convince its viewers about the benefits of dairy products or non-vegetarian foods, without much evidence to back any claims. This newly created trust becomes a sort of common understanding as it is spread amongst the people of a generation and is then shared with the next generation. The next generation, who has this ‘common understanding’ passed down to them from their elders, is also targeted with similar ads, which bolsters their common understanding and slowly converts it to a ‘common sense’. This loop then continues till the point where the benefits of dairy and non-vegetarian foods are converted from being non-scientific theories to a sort of universal truth which doesn’t have any actual scientific backing. This is how the prevalence of these foods is established.
Now that we’ve understood this elaborate process, let’s try and figure out whether these foods are actually as crucial to a kid’s nutrition as they seem to be.
The Reality Check
Ever ponder the question, what is it about food that helps a kid in growing? Is it some mysterious property of specific foods, or is it the nutrients present in the food. If, according to you, nutrients are the driving force behind the benefits of eating any food, then the next part will not be much of a shocker to you. Barring a few nutrients, plant based foods are as rich, if not richer, in most nutrients than all animal based foods. What plant based foods (especially the natural and not the processed ones) generally lack are things such as cholesterol, saturated fats, trans fats, galactose, high levels of iodine and elements such as IGF, all of which are known to cause serious diseases and even death. Therefore, the conclusion that has been sighted by many research papers is that a kid’s nutrition will not suffer any negative impact if a balanced plant based diet is given, just like is the case is for all other diets.
What all you need to take care of when following a plant based diet for your kids.
While kids need an extremely wide variety of nutrients for proper growth and development, both physically and mentally, there are some basic nutrients which are just too essential to ignore. Hence, we’ll be listing them for you, how they’re important, and which vegan sources you can get them from.
Calcium - Calcium is not only important for building bone strength, but also plays a significant role in other important bodily functions such as hormone secretion and central nervous system function. Spinach, Broccoli, Almonds and Sesame seeds are great vegan sources of calcium.
Protein - Contrary to popular belief, protein is not only essential for muscle growth, but instead is one of the building blocks of our body and mind. Also contrary to popular belief, protein is not limited to non-vegetarian food, it is also plentiful in plant based foods. Vegan foods such as beans, lentils, peas, tofu, tempeh, seitan etc. are all rich in protein.
Vitamin B12 - A lesser known nutrient, this vitamin is actually extremely important in some of the body’s most crucial functions such as production of red blood cells, supporting bone health and improving heart health. This vitamin is found in extremely few plant based sources some of which are tofu, nutritional yeast or other fortified vegan foods.
Vitamin D - This popular vitamin plays many important roles in our bodies which we are generally not even aware of. It reduces one's chances of getting diseases ranging from the flu to serious heart diseases and even multiple sclerosis. It also helps in calcium absorption and boosts weight loss. It can be found in oatmeal, orange juice and other fortified vegan foods.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids - These nutrients are extremely important as they promote eye health, brain health and even help in reducing symptoms of ADHD in kids, amongst the myriad of other health benefits which they offer. Vegan foods such as cauliflower, walnuts, brussels sprouts, oatmeal, flaxseeds and seaweed.
Iron - Iron is an extremely critical nutrient for everyone, but especially for children as it also helps in creation of red blood cells and in transporting oxygen to various parts of the body. It can be found in lentils, chickpeas, beans and many other vegan foods as shown below
Nutritionally speaking, you need to take care of the intake of vitamin B12 and iron. For this, you can add any of the vegan foods mentioned above to ensure that all of your kid’s dietary requirements are met.
Time for a Shameless but well-founded and well-intentioned plug :)
All the nutrients mentioned above are crucial for the growth and development of your kid. However, in addition to these, there are a lot more nutrients which also play important roles in your child’s proper growth and development. These can all be found in various vegan foods, but to save you the hassle, we created a formulation which we can proudly state is the best formulation for your child’s growth period. It has higher levels of almost all nutrients per serving than the competition, with lower levels of processed carbohydrates.
It has been made with the utmost care for your child because we believe that all children deserve the best of nutrition, and we believe that the best is natural and plant based.