Story by: Maggie Roetker on August 12, 2016
A proposed law in Italy would give a jail sentence to parents who feed their child a vegan diet. It follows on the heels of several cases in the country where children were hospitalized with severe malnutrition tied to the diet that eliminates animal-based products, such as meat, fish, cheese, milk and eggs — a key source of protein, among other important nutrients.
“Certain nutrients found in animal products are required for proper growth and development,” said Kim Cooley, registered dietitian with Norton Healthcare. “You have to pay special attention to making sure children get exactly what their growing bodies need. This can be challenging on a vegan diet, but it is possible.”
What are these nutrients?
Additionally, to be sure a vegan child gets enough calories for growth and energy, his or her diet should contain plenty of “good” fats from sources such as avocados, nuts and seeds.
“Before you consider starting a vegan diet for your child, or if you are vegan and are going to be breastfeeding, talk to your pediatrician about how you can ensure your child gets the necessary nutrients,” Cooley said.
Some plant-based foods high in vital nutrients:
“You can raise a healthy child on a vegan diet if you are educated on nutritional needs and proper meal planning to include the foods that meet them,” Cooley said.
– Maggie Roetker
Find out more about eating vegan or speak with your pediatrician if you are not sure your child is getting the nutrients he or she needs. Need a pediatrician? Find one by calling (502) 629-KIDS.