Problems of Vegan Parents

On June 10, 2008, a 12-year old girl in Scotland who was brought up on a strict vegetarian diet was admitted to the hospital. There have been instances of vegan parents being put on trial for making their children sick. In one such incident, a 6-month baby boy of vegan parents died of malnutrition.

What is veganism?

Veganism is a lifestyle which excludes the use of animal products for food, clothing or any other purposes. It is a strict form of vegetarianism.

Problems of vegan parents:

Vegan parents who are well informed may take care of their children well. However, vegan parents who are uninformed, who do not seek medical help, may harm their children.

Consequences of a poorly planned vegan diet:

Vegan diet lacks many vitamins, mineral which are found in milk, meat etc. A poorly planned vegan diet leads to the following problems:

  • Malnutrition
  • Anemia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Rickets
  • Cretinism
  • Neurodegenerative diseases

The reasons for the problems of vegan diet:

The following are the essential nutrients which are low in a vegan diet:

  • Vitamin B12 is low in vegan diet. Lack of Vitamin B12 may cause anemia and neurodegenerative diseases
  • Vitamin D and Calcium are low in vegan diets. Deficiency of Vitamin D and Calcium may cause rickets, fractures
  • Vegan diet does not contain much Iodine, which may lead to hypothyroidism.
  • Essential Omega-3 Fatty Acid α-Linolenic Acid and its derivatives, which are essential for developing the visual system are very low in vegan diets

Steps to be taken by the vegan parents:

A well-planned vegan diet meets all the nutritional needs of children. Fruits and vegetables present in vegan diet also keep the child healthy. The following steps can be taken by the vegan parents:

  • Make sure that your child is getting enough calories, as vegan diet has fewer calories than meat and diary products
  • Compensate Vitamin B12 by including food fortified with Vitamin B12 or use Vitamin B12 supplements
  • Compensate calcium by including dark green leafy vegetables or calcium supplementation
  • Compensate Vitamin-D by making sure the child gets enough exposure to sunlight or use Vitamin-D supplements
  • To prevent iron-deficiency anemia, include whole grain products, green leafy vegetables
  • Iodine supplementation should be done if the salt is not iodized
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acid Α-Linolenic Acid derivatives should also be supplemented in pregnant and lactating vegan mothers

Vegan diets are low in cholesterol, saturated fats and high in fiber. Vegans have a low risk of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and allergies. However, vegan parents need to ensure that their child gets proper vitamins, minerals from a vegan diet.

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