Raising a child on a Plant-Based Diet

I became a mother at the age of 24. I was a vegan, and very idealistic.

I cared about the environment and cruelty to animals and then, as a mother-to-be, I became very health conscious as well.

We didn’t have a lot of support as vegan parents, everyone thought we were putting our baby at risk of malnutrition: “not enough iron…low B12” they said, but we did it anyway...

We made spirulina smoothies and cooked a lot of vegetables with the addition of tofu, seaweed and tahini.

Now I am a grandmother, my son Jasper and his partner Leah are young parents, at 21 years of age, to a beautiful 8 months old baby named Asa.

They are conscientiously raising Asa on a plant-based diet.

The term ”Plant-Based” is used to describe an eating regime of mainly vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, with attention to food sourced sustainably.

I interviewed them to ask how their journey has been for the last 8 months since Asa was born.

I asked the questions and Leah answered:

Q ~ What are you feeding your 8 month old son?

A~ Alongside breastfeeding, we feed Asa as many fruits and veggies as possible, with a focus on leafy greens/beans/lentils for iron. He basically eats what we eat. Most mornings, we’ll have porridge together, stewed apple or banana, and hemp seeds. He loves porridge, bean chilli, and smoothies. The other night, Asa had lentil popelettes, which are actually super easy and cheap to make! He’s been having plenty of winter produce lately too, like pumpkin and silverbeet.

Q ~ What is behind your choice of diet - is it an environmental decision or a personal health one?

A ~ A bit of both – there comes a point where meat-eating kids realise that they’re eating animals, and it doesn’t sit right with me teaching kids to love animals and then having to reconcile that love with eating them. You can get all the nutrients without eating meat. We do give him a bit of egg yolk or yoghurt here and there, but not any meat. And raising a kid in this ecological climate eating meat just doesn’t feel logical. We’re raising Asa to be equipped to live in the world he’s inheriting. We’re really working on reducing food waste, by saving up food scraps for stock, and composting the rest. Ideally, he’ll grow up with respect for the planet!

Q ~ Would you like to be strict with Asa when he is older? For example - will going to McDonald's with friends be ok? Or will you consider letting him eat meat "sometimes"?

A ~ It’s his decision – I want to raise him by example, fully aware and educated with his choices. We won’t give him meat or food like McDonalds at home, but if he is aware of what he’s eating and where it came from, then that’s his choice. I’m sure many parents would like to shelter their kids from certain things, but it’s a bit unrealistic – I think all we can do is try to nurture a love for plant-based eating early on.

Q ~ is there a growing movement of Plant Based Parents?

A ~ Definitely! There’s a huge community of plant based families on social media, some of which provide good resources for nutrition. We don’t know many personally, (we actually don’t know many other parents in general) but they are all over the world, and it’s certainly a growing movement, which is awesome.

Q ~ Do you find it difficult to find things to feed your boy?

A ~ No, not at all. Having a baby motivates us to eat well, since he eats what we do. He loves his food! He gets excited to eat, and is always so curious and trusting when it’s a new food. Asa is such a dream baby, we’re so grateful. As his parents, we’re very excited to nurture a healthy relationship with food and a plant-based, sustainable lifestyle for him.

I am a very proud grandma! These beautiful young people are such good parents, so wise, relaxed and healthy.

We can all be proud! Leah and Jasper represent a new generation of global citizens who are taking action themselves and not waiting for governments to take responsibility.

These young parents are aware of what the mission at hand is and are doing all the right things to raise a child in the present day of rising temperatures, unsustainable farming and industrial food.

The Plant Based Diet doesn’t have to be a strict regime of only plant foods (as the vegan diet is for example). The plant foods could be eaten as an addition to wild meats, free range eggs or organic dairy products.

It is a way of eating which is healthy for us and the planet, as we consider the environmental impact of the choices we make as consumers.