Q&A With Susie
Hi Susie. My kids and grandkids are strictly vegan and dairy free on ethical grounds. They are constantly finding info to refute traditional eating patterns and I am finding it hard to keep justifying our choices. Internationally it seems to be the way of the future with better land use, cheaper costs, organic benefits, reduced greenhouse gasses, less animal cruelty and advanced science overcoming the diet deficiency arguments. What are your thoughts on this trend? Pat, WA
Thank you for your question, it certainly is an interesting one.
Decisions such as choosing to be a vegan, and feed your family vegan are complicated and cannot simply be viewed from a nutritional perspective, it is more of an ethical choice, or even a moral decision as opposed to only a health based one.
Nutritionally the biggest issue associated with total veganism is a low intake of Vitamin B12, which is crucial for the nervous system and virtually impossible to get from plant sources alone, for small children in particular this is a concern. The human body is very good at absorbing most other nutrients from plant sources, provided the vegan diet is well balanced.
The issue with small children is that they require specific nutrients in large amounts and if they are typical fussy eaters, they may not be getting these key nutrients. You're in a difficult position, but all you can do is suggest that the kids are monitored regularly by their GP to ensure there is nothing clearly lacking in their diets based on their growth records and general health and functioning.
It is up to an individual as to how they eat - there is no right or wrong answer. However, if veganism is done the right way it can be a nutritious diet, just as long as those key nutrient boxes are ticked.