According to research by BBC Good Food, more than a fifth of children in the UK would like to be vegan or have already made this choice. The study, which polled more than 1,000 children aged between 5 and 16 years, found that 8 percent have already embraced a vegan diet, while 15 percent are considering it. These findings represent a considerable shift away from meat-based diets. Michael Kern, Craniosacral Therapy Educational Trust co-founder, became a vegetarian in his teens, even though he was living in a meat-eating family.

Some parents and guardians may be worried about their children becoming vegetarian or vegan, based on a fear that cutting out meat and dairy might mean a lack of essential nutrients in their child’s diet, or that it may disrupt the rest of the family’s established eating plan. As such, a parent (or family) needs to know how to support children who wish to take up a plant-based diet.

Talk About It

Parents may hesitate at the idea of their child giving up meat, but such a decision presents an opportunity to have a conversation about what has motivated this wish. While a desire to fit in with their peers could be a factor, it’s common that children are worried about animal welfare and want to contribute in their own way. Whatever the reason, starting a dialogue can uncover a child’s thinking and feeling, which can lead to greater understanding all round.

As a parent of two children who are not fully vegetarian, but as a committed vegetarian myself, these conversations can also be the avenue to let them know that they have your support whatever their choices. Whether a child wants to eat meat or truly wants to avoid meat, we can respect these choices and find ways to make it work.

What Are the Benefits of Plant-Based Diets?

While meat and dairy products get a lot of attention as sources of protein, there’s a host of healthy options with plant-based diets, including whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, among others. In fact, protein from nuts and seeds has been shown to be better for heart health! With a bit of research and planning, a vegetarian or vegan diet provides all the necessary nutritional elements needed for healthy and strong growth.

This may involve finding out vegan-friendly foods to stock up, and which healthy snack alternatives to have handy. In the long run, these healthy options would probably be better for the entire household’s health and can contribute to better food choices for everyone.